Gastric sleeve surgery, aka sleeve gastrectomy, is a bariatric surgery procedure that involves removing a large portion of the stomach to help with weight loss. It helps individuals with clinically severe obesity lose weight and avoid potential life-threatening health problems.
As with any surgical procedure, sleeve gastrectomy requires basic recovery measures, such as taking ample rest, engaging in light exercise, and especially, adopting a healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy eating plan and being mindful of food portions is critical to prevent potential complications and achieving desired outcomes.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into six research-proven techniques to help you control portion size after gastric sleeve surgery. Whether you have recently undergone a sleeve gastrectomy or are considering it in the future, this article will assist you in your journey!
1. Use Smaller Plates and Utensils
Smaller plates and utensils can help reduce the amount of food consumed in one sitting. Research studies suggest that people tend to serve themselves larger portions on bigger plates and eat more when using larger utensils.
2. Don’t Eat Too Quickly
Eating slowly also aids in digestion. Chewing food slowly and thoroughly breaks down the food particles, making them easier for the stomach to digest. This can avoid consuming more calories than necessary and reduce the risk of digestive issues like bloating and indigestion.
3. Eat Protein
After gastric sleeve surgery, protein is an essential nutrient that helps the body heal and build muscle. It’s important to focus on consuming protein-rich foods like a protein shake, chicken breast, and fish to meet the body’s nutritional needs and support better blood sugar control.
Foods to Avoid Post-bariatric Surgery
After the surgery, steer clear of the foods listed below for a few days. Under the supervision of your doctor, you can gradually reintroduce these foods and beverages back into your diet.
- Raw vegetables
- Tough meats like steak
- Fresh fruits
- Carbonated drinks
- Sugar-containing foods and beverages like fruit juices
4. Avoid Snacking
It’s generally not recommended to snack frequently after gastric sleeve surgery. Snacking between meals can cause people to consume more calories than needed, leading to weight gain.
But, small, healthy snacks in moderation can be a part of a balanced diet and may be allowed after the initial recovery period, depending on the specific recommendations of your dietitian.
5. Follow a Diet Regime With Proper Portion Sizes
Here is a general diet regime that is typically recommended after gastric sleeve surgery:
Phase 1: Clear Liquid Diet (1-2 Days)
Only clear liquids such as water, broth, unsweetened juice, sugar-free gelatin, and sugar-free drinks should be consumed during this phase.
Phase 2: Full Liquid Diet (1-2 Weeks)
This phase involves consuming thicker liquids that are easy to digest, such as protein shakes, low-fat milk, and vegetable juice. Avoid sugary drinks and consume protein-rich thin and thicker liquids to promote healing and maintain muscle mass.
Phase 3: Pureed Food Diet (1-2 Weeks)
In this phase, pureed (mashed up) foods such as cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes can be added back to your diet.
It’s advisable to eat three to six small meals daily, each containing 4 to 6 tablespoons of food. Make sure to eat slowly and take around 30 minutes for each meal.
Phase 4: Soft Foods Diet (3 Weeks)
After three weeks, soft foods such as cooked vegetables, flaked fish, eggs, rice, cooked or dried cereal, canned fruits, and lean ground meats can now be added.
It’s best to have three to five small meals a day, each containing one-third to one-half cup of food. Chew each bite until the food reaches a pureed consistency before swallowing.
Phase 5: Solid Foods (After 8 Weeks)
Once you have followed the post-operative diet for two months, you can gradually reintroduce firmer, solid foods. However, it’s crucial to chew these foods thoroughly, eat slowly, and stop before feeling full.
During this phase, you can consume three meals daily (or more, depending on your dietitian), consisting of one to one and a half cups of food.
Phase 6: More Solid Foods (After 6 Months)
After six months post-surgery, you can start consuming 1 ½ cups of liquids and 1 ¼ cups of solid foods. This can consist of 3 servings of low-fat meat, 3 servings of low-fat dairy products, and 1 serving of fruit. Make sure to measure all your portions using a scale or measuring cups.
It’s important to consult your doctor for recommendations on other foods to include in your diet.
What Happens if I Don’t Follow Proper Portion Size After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Failure to follow the dietary guidelines after weight loss surgery can lead to various complications. These include:
- Weight regain – not following the recommended diet can stretch the stomach pouch, allow larger meals to be consumed, and slow metabolism.
- Dumping syndrome – eating foods high in sugar or fat can cause rapid emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine, resulting in dumping syndrome. Symptoms of dumping syndrome include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating.
- Dehydration and constipation – to prevent dehydration and constipation, it’s important to sip on 48 to 64 ounces of liquids throughout the day. Just make sure not to consume all of the fluids at once.
Read more: Constipation After Gastric Bypass Surgery
6. Listen to Your Body
Listening to your own body can help you make healthier choices. By paying attention to how different foods make you feel, you can make more informed decisions about what to eat and avoid foods that may cause discomfort or negatively impact your health.
Things You Can Do to Recover From the Surgery Quickly
Listed below are steps you can take to improve your recovery.
In the first few weeks after surgery, it’s normal to feel weak and experience fatigue. And, engaging in frequent, non-strenuous activities like short walks is helpful to aid in recovery.
After a few days, you can gradually increase the distance of your walks to help you quickly get back to your baseline energy level.
By the sixth week, continue walking at least four times daily, aiming for 30 to 45 minutes daily.
If you have weight-bearing joint issues, such as ankle, knee, or hip problems, you can consider water exercises like water aerobics and aqua zumba once your abdominal incisions have healed, usually three to four weeks post-operation.
Avoid Strenuous Activity
During the first six weeks, avoid strenuous activities like running, jumping rope, and lifting objects that weigh more than 15 to 20 pounds.
Do Breathing Exercise
After any bariatric surgery (such as sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass surgery, or gastric band), breathing exercises are important. They can aid in preventing post-operative complications such as pneumonia and atelectasis (partial or complete lung collapse).
Deep breathing exercises can also improve overall lung function, reduce pain and discomfort, and promote faster recovery.
After the surgery, your incisions will have deep skin sutures (stitches) and surgical glue on top. The sutures will dissolve over time, while the adhesive will start to peel off one to two weeks post-surgery.
Letting the incisions get wet during a shower is safe, but it’s advised to avoid submerging them in water until they have fully healed.
Keep the incisions moisturized with Vaseline or Aquaphor as the glue starts peeling off to prevent scabbing and accelerate the healing process.
Watch out for symptoms of infection, such as increased redness or foul-smelling fluids coming from the incision, severe pain at the incision site, and a fever of over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If you suddenly experience any of these symptoms, immediately contact a medical professional.
Regular intake of vitamins and nutritional supplements is crucial after bariatric surgery to account for the altered digestive process. To prevent and detect potential vitamin deficiencies, attend follow-up visits and lab work with your bariatric surgery team and consistently take your supplements as prescribed.
Join Support Groups
Support groups provide a safe and welcoming environment where you can share your experiences, ask questions, and receive emotional support from others who have undergone similar situations.
They also provide a wealth of information and resources to help you navigate your post-surgery journey. Members of these groups can share tips, strategies, and advice on many things, from managing food cravings and sticking to a healthy diet to dealing with complications and side effects of the surgery.