Healthy Habits before Weight-Loss Surgery

May 3, 2022 | Tara Schmidt | @taraschmidt

Written by Margaret Gall, a Mayo Clinic Registered Dietitian 

Weight-loss (bariatric) surgery is an effective treatment to help you lose weight, though the surgery itself is only one part of an overall treatment plan.  Maintained weight loss after surgery depends on your ability to change behaviors in eating, physical activity, and other habits.  Working on lifestyle changes before surgery provides you with time to consider motivation, willingness, and the ability to make changes that can help you optimize surgical success.

Lifestyle Changes

Plan for healthy eating

  • Eat 3 meals a day as close as possible to planned times. Do not skip meals.
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Include a source of protein at each meal.
  • Use smaller plates and utensils to help with portion control.
  • Limit foods and beverages that are high in fat or added sugar.
  • Have no more than one dessert or sweet a week. Make it something you truly enjoy.
  • Practice mindful eating to avoid unplanned or mindless eating episodes. To be a more mindful eater:
  • Before you eat, ask yourself, “How hungry am I? Am I eating out of hunger, habit, or for comfort?” Monitor your mood. Soothe yourself with a non-food alternative such calling a friend, taking a walk, or listening to music.
  • Pay attention to what and when you eat. Are you engaged in other activities when eating, such as watching TV, reading, or working?  Avoid distractions and eat at a table.
  • Eat slowly. Allow at least 30 minutes for each meal - take small bites and chew your food well.
  • Pay attention to the feeling of being full.

Stay hydrated

  • Unless your health care provider tells you otherwise, drink at least 64 ounces (8 cups) of fluids daily – best option is water.
  • Instead of chugging or gulping beverages, sip them slowly.
  • Choose beverages you can continue to have after surgery:
  • Do not drink beverages that contain alcohol, added sugar, or carbonation.
    • Reduce caffeine intake slowly. Limit intake to no more than 2 caffeinated beverages daily.
    • Choose sugar-free, non-carbonated beverages.
    • Drink fluids between meals, not with meals. Practice the following: Do not drink fluids for 30 minutes before or after meals.

Follow healthy habits

  • Monitor dietary intake and activity. Keep food and activity records or use tracking apps.
  • Be physically active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefit - try a few bouts of 5 to 10 minutes. Any activity is better than not at all.
  • Reduce sitting time. Sitting too much can negatively affect your health
  • Make getting enough sleep a priority. Aim for 7 to 9 hours.
  • Practice daily self-care.
  • Manage your stress in enjoyable ways.

How did you prepare for bariatric surgery? 

Related posts:

Maintaining Hydration after Bariatric Surgery

Why do I have to follow a liquid diet before bariatric surgery?

How Might Weight Loss Surgery Affect Body Image?

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