My Gastric Bypass Experience: Useful Bariatric Lessons and Top Tips for Newbies

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Well, today I wanted to write about my Weight loss Journey to date as a gastric bypass patient. I feel I have learnt so much — and, I have so much more to learn. I’m sharing this for those interested in my Gastric Bypass Journey for some helpful and valuable gastric bypass tips.

weight loss journey

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Before my operation, I can honestly say I really wanted to lose weight. I tried over and over but really struggled while on steroid medication and stuck in bed unwell. After speaking with my husband, I honestly felt that bariatric surgery was the only way to lose weight. I would be able to get past the challenge I had of being morbidly obese. Eventually, I was referred to a specialist by my doctor.

Gastric Bypass Tips

On several occasions, I had been interested in the surgery as an option and asked for recommendations from my doctor. He told me to sign up to a gym, go swimming, get more active, try to lose weight, and even join a slimming club. While I was always told to make a bigger effort, mentioning bariatric surgery in passing was usually sidestepped.

While researching gastric bypass criteria on the NHS, I realised I was a good candidate. After going back to the doctor, I spoke firmly about my desire to be referred. The doctor once again responded back with pushing a weight loss program and possible traveling issues. I candidly stated my willingness to do what it takes. In addition, I shot back with having a right to be assessed and to please make the referral.

Lesson One: Check Gastric Bypass Requirements

If you want to be assessed for bariatric surgery, your doctor will need to confirm you meet the criteria before referring you. Do your research, look up the gastric bypass criteria including what your BMI needs to be for an appointment with the bariatric team. Then, do your best to push for the appointment.

Be aware, once you are seen by a specialist (if you meet basic criteria), they will refer you to a dietician for at least a year and you will need to lose a lot of weight on your own before being referred back to the bariatric team.

Losing Weight on your own

Here are some lessons on preparing for bariatric surgery tips, mentally and physically. Generally, a patient who meets the bariatric surgery criteria will be required on the NHS to lose at least 10% of their own body weight. This is before you can be referred for the bariatric surgery procedure.

Unless you are going to privately lose weight, it will be tough, It’s something you need to work very hard at. Yet, I was determined and reached 10% within 8 months and then struggled to lose any more after that.

By the way, I chose not to tell people I was preparing for a gastric bypass. Instead, I waited until I had reached my goal, assessments were completed and ready to go. The good news is, the weight criteria is based on your heaviest when you are first referred to the dietician.

Therefore, if you lose more than 10% of your body weight but it’s still a long way to go, don’t worry. You won’t be told you’re now healthy and can’t go ahead with the gastric bypass surgery.

I was told to try and lose what I could before and if I got down to the healthy weight range. Then, I could re-evaluate my options. Thankfully, I did lose the 10% body weight but still had a long way to go. My weight at the time of surgery was 19 stone 5 pounds.

Lesson Two: Lose Weight within a Year

Lose as much weight as you can while you do your one-year weight loss program. In addition, attend the bariatric meetings to learn about the operation during that time.

Bariatric Surgeon Appointment Expectations

Although I followed a weight loss plan for a year, it took longer before I saw the bariatric surgeon for assessment and approval. This was due to waiting times. I completed my one year in October 2015 but did not see the surgeon until December 2015. It was an extra 3 months before my bariatric surgeon assessment. Plus, there is a long waiting list and others were before me on the list.

At my assessment, I did not know what to expect. I met in a room with about 10 other patients. We all took in turns for weight and height measurements, MRSA swabs, psychological assessments, dietician assessments, blood tests and heart monitoring. I then spoke with the anesthetist and the bariatric surgeon about which surgery was best for me. I did not know what to expect but the session took a good 4 hours.

Lesson Three: Be Patient during Bariatric Surgery Assessment

Expect to spend the best part of the day being assessed for bariatric surgery. Do your research and learn about the different options before seeing the surgeon. I did and I was able to say what I wanted whereas some people were really unsure.

Be prepared for the surgeon to recommend alternative gastric surgery methods than what you’re planning. In other words, keep an open mind to all bariatric surgery options.

Setting an Operation Date

You could get an operation date on your gastric bypass assessment or you could have to wait several weeks. Either way, you will need to prepare to go on a Liver Reduction Diet usually for 2 weeks before the operation. Sometimes operations are cancelled at the last minute. Mine was cancelled 3 times. On the fourth time, I got lucky.

Lesson Four: Get prepared for the Liver Shrinking Diet

Be prepared to do the Liver Shrinking diet for some time and don’t start it until you have to. Enjoy a final meal before you start the diet. I had steak and I’m glad I did as I’ve never been able to have it since.

My Gastric Bypass Operation Results and Struggles

My operation went well, however, I had a very painful experience in comparison to some. I have read about many bariatric surgery experiences: some have little pain whereas others are in the worst pain of their lives.

I wrote about the painful truth about gastric bypass surgery and my experience. It was very hard for me. For several weeks I suffered and regretted the surgery. But, once the surgery pain had subsided it became physically easier pain and mentally wise.

Lesson Five: Gastric Bypass is not easy but worth it

It will get easier and will be worth it eventually but a gastric bypass is never an easy option.

Eating After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Eating after surgery is mentally and physically tough. I have written a series of posts on my own experiences but you start with a liquid diet and move onto puree foods and then soft foods and eventually solids again. I struggled through these phases and I think most people do. It’s hard to get used to retraining the mind, changing eating habits, not drinking and eating at the same time, chewing many times and taking breaks between mouthfuls.

I found it so tough until 16 weeks when things got a little easier. I’m still on this journey and learning what works for me and does not {and it is tough!}. I found by 20 weeks I could eat most foods again.

And, my focus now is to get my head around measuring protein and counting calories. I realised I had not been eating as much as I needed to and I think that’s why my weight stalled over the last few weeks.

Lesson Six: Carefully follow Bariatric Bypass After Surgery Diet

Follow the diet plan you’re given the best you can. When you start solids, measure out your proteins and count calories. Check labels for sugar and fat content. I did this but got slack and when I thought I was eating right it turned out not quite enough. This is my focus for the coming month.

Life is forever changed – A New Beginning after Gastric Bypass Surgery

After bariatric surgery, your relationship with food is changed. You cannot eat a large meal in one sitting like a normal person. My meals are the size of a side plate now. I can go out for a meal and eat half a kid’s meal. Plus, I can eat a whole can of soup or 4 pieces of sushi. And, I can’t eat a whole meal so it’s baby portions for me. This can be frustrating and takes months to get used to but it does get easier. I’m slowly getting used to this. It’s a process and takes time but so worth it!

Lesson Seven: Slowly chew your food to avoid pain

Don’t eat too much in one sitting or you will be sick, feel stabbing pains and or stretch your pouch. You will get used to the new way of eating and I recommend exploring fun options and healthy treat size snacks such as Chicken Salad Cucumber bites, broccoli cheese bites or protein balls. There are plenty of gastric bypass cookbooks with healthy bean, vegetable and chicken soups to help with protein and so many options you just need to be willing to put in the time and find what works for you. It’s a life-changing process but it’s worth it in the end.

Bariatric Surgery is Not for Everyone

Bariatric surgery is not for everyone and this is simply my own experience and some of the things learnt. The journey is not easy but there is support out there online, in forums and Facebook groups and via the hospital. Find support and people you can talk to. However some will share different experiences and opinions and others may consider different plans. Stick to the plan from your doctor and any concerns, speak to your dietician. If you can exercise once you’re recovered from surgery then do- it will help your weight loss.

Lesson Eight: Find Ways to Add Exercise

Exercise is limited due to my health but it’s a great thing to do alongside the healthy eating plan and other life changes. Start off small and work your way into something manageable. If you mess up and eat something otherwise restricted, just pick yourself up and keep going. Don’t give up and enjoy your bariatric journey. If I can do it, you can do too!

Angela x

About Angela Milnes

Angela Milnes is a Qualified Early Years Teacher who has specialised in teaching. She has a wealth of experience teaching young children and adults. Angela has also taught cooking classes and loves to share both family recipes and easy instant pot recipes here on The Instant Pot Table. Follow her on Pinterest!

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