Pre-Op Diet

Some surgeons want their patients to do a pre-op diet.  I’ve heard of doozies – six weeks of a graduated diet – baby stepping to a week of clears only.  I’ve done a pre-0p diet from hell when I was in pre-ops with a local surgeon – long before we learned our insurance would not cover the cost of WLS and I became a self-pay patient and was blessed enough to find Dr. Baltasar!  That diet was AWFUL.  I followed it to a T, lost 20 pounds, stayed on it in total compliance, and gained 25.  I could always diet with the best of them – and even lose some weight – but keep it off?  Nope.

But – DUH! – that’s why I needed weight loss surgery!  Hello!?

Back in the day, there weren’t that many surgeons offering Lap DS – so few of us ever heard of doing a pre-op diet.  In fact, a lot of us were doing “The Tour” (of restaurants) – convinced food would never taste good again, or would be forbidden, or some other stupid thing like that – and eating everything in sight cause this would be our last chance!

Today, Lap DS is the standard of care.  It just makes so much more sense.  I’ve had the great privilege to scrub in on both open DS and lap DS surgeries – and let me tell you – Lap DS in the hands of a great surgeon is a thing of beauty.  Not only that – but the recovery is as well.  But that’s a totally different topic.

So – like I was saying – many more DS surgeons are offering the surgery as a laparoscopic procedure.  Awesome for the patient!  BUT, a patient can make a small investment in helping to make their surgery less risky, and their recovery much more smooth.  Something as simple as a pre-op diet.

How does that help?  It helps to reduce liver size.  Not just any old diet, and the goal here isn’t so much “lose this many pounds” or “be miserable and hungry” it’s about giving your body what it needs, and making your surgery a raging success.  Did you know that two weeks of an adhered to pre-op diet can reduce liver size by up to 30% by the time of surgery?  That’s pretty impressive, huh?

Here’s the diet:

  • Low or no fat
  • Good quality dairy (yogurt and yogurt drinks)
  • Low or no simple carbs (although complex carbs are GOOD)
  • High protein
  • High water intake (64 ounces)
  • You may eat as many vegetables as you like

Remember, this is not about starving yourself.  If you’re hungry, have a cup of soup broth, or some vegetables to munch on.

It’s also important to stay mobile.  Try to walk a little bit each day.  Start out with ten or fifteen minutes invested.  Work up until you can walk 60 minutes each day.  This will serve you well as an early post-op!

Avoid sweeteners – natural or artificial.

In Europe, they have something they call the “yogurt diet.”  A lot of European women swear by this.  It’s somewhat similar.  You can read some about it here.

So – okay – seems doable, but then you think:  “What the heck CAN I eat?!”  The real key here is to start reading labels.  Look first at protein counts – you want as much protein as you can get.  But not just any protein, you want lean protein.  So make sure that there’s very little – and maybe even NO – fat.  And definitely look for food items that are high in dietary fiber.

Here are a few food suggestions:

  1. Chinese BBQ pork – high in protein and virtually no fat.  You can dip it in the hot mustard sauce – yummy!  You can, of course, get this at a Chinese restaurant, but Costco and most grocery stores sell it as well – and you can buy it, slice it up, and have it available for a quick snack!
  2. Albacore Tuna, and other mild white fish.  I be honest with you – you couldn’t pay me enough to eat tuna without slathering a bunch of mayo on it to make into a wonderful tuna salad.  But guess what?!  You can make tuna salad using an alternative like Greek Yogurt.  A lot of people actually prefer it this way.  You will need to jazz it up a little, add some dill pickle, some diced celery, maybe some green onion or chives.  But it’s pretty tasty.
  3. Good quality deli meats.  We have a local grocery store that carries Boar’s Head products.   They’re amazing.  I get them thinly sliced, and then you can roll a slice of say, black forest ham, with a thin slice of baby swiss cheese, and a pickle spear – and you’ve got a great little protein rich snack!  This would be a great snack as a fairly new post-op at about the four week post-op stage.
  4. Whole grains and foods rich in dietary fiber are your friend!  Whole grains include:  brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, whole wheat cereal, muesli, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat crackers, whole wheat tortillas, wild rice, quinoa.  Foods rich in dietary fiber:  beans, bran cereals, dried figs, beets, broccoli, garbanzo (chickpeas) beans, lentils, spinach and other dark leafy greens, yams, etc.
  5. Salads.  The caviot being you need to remember to not load it up with a lot of salad dressing – we’re trying to eliminate fat these two weeks, right?  So, as an alternative, you could try making a salad dressing with a greek yogurt and some seasonings.  I know someone who uses the ranch dressing mix packet and mixes it with greek yogurt and loves it enough she’ll never buy commercially prepared Ranch dressing again.  If you are going to use a traditional salad dressing that is full of fat, then revert back to the old Weight Watchers days way of things – you know, dipping your fork tines into the salad dressing, then taking a bite of salad.
  6. Soup broths – look for low fat varieties.  They can give you a nice little pick me up as a snack.

That gives you an idea at least.  Really, the key is to pay attention to food labels and make wise choices about keeping the protein intake high, the fat intake low, and avoiding simple carbs.  You’ll be amazed how doable this is.   Beside that, it’s an excellent investment toward an excellent surgical outcome.


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