Pre -Transplant Diet and Exercise Ideas

Posted by Rosemary, Volunteer Mentor @rosemarya, Jul 23, 2018

Once you find out you need a transplant, you will learn that there are some things that you can do before surgery to ensure that you are prepared.

-If you smoke, you should quit.
-Eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
-Exercise to maintain your energy level as you are able.
-Get plenty of rest.

Now..we all know that it is much more difficult to achieve success with our complications….but it is worth it to know it will make life much easier on the other side…and that you gave it your all!

Anyone who wants to share diet and exercise ideas..please do…be creative!

@mlmcg

I do not like the word sugar-free. Just what does it mean; no added natural sugar (cane, beet, honey or maple sugar), no added artificial sugars (chemically made), or things like corn syrup – it's not sugar because sugar isn't in its name. Just what is a sugar free Popsicle? I don't eat them so I don't know if you mean frozen fruit juices or flavored ice cubes with no added sweeteners? I need some help here. Once you got that new kidney it was too easy eating foods that you couldn't eat before and "chow down" on unhealthy foods now. I sat by a man, when I was no dialysis, who received a kidney when he was 19, and like all teenagers, he "chowed down" on everything in sight and ended up over 400 lbs. then lost his kidney. When I met him he was down to 300 lbs. and had to loose another 100 before he could be evaluated for another kidney.

If you believe eating "vegie soups" so you can have all the "snacks" you want will leave you with "no negative impact on your health" you could be so wrong. Once you were given a new lease on life, with the transplant, you need to care for your new kidney so it will care for you. Once you loose that kidney, for whatever reason, you may never get a chance to receive another one again. In order to keep our new kidneys we all have to have a new "life style", not a diet, which can change from day to day, but a "life style" which becomes our way of life for ever and ever.

mlmcg

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@jolinda thank you for posting. I was hesitant at first but found the group extremely understanding and a wealth of knowledge and experience. I have never been let down when asking a question I thought others would think silly. I am grateful to so many people that I will probably never have the pleasure of meeting. Never be afraid to ask a question or post an answer or experience. That is what makes this so special. To me anyway.

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@teresatopeka

I have had two liver transplants at Mayo Rochester. I am also a Physical Therapist with a specialty certification in Aquatic Physical Therapy. I have found from professional and work experience, that gentle aquatic aerobic exercise in therapy pools (warmer than lap pools) is very comfortable for patients and there are very few health risks. Something to consider before seeking this out is if you have an open wounds, ostomy sites or issues with fecal/urinary incontinence. Don’t worry about not being able to get into and out off the pool because most Therapy pools have a lift or a walk in/out ramp to make it easier. Often times for patients with extreme muscle wasting, this is a great way to ease back into exercise without stressing the joints too much and is often very relaxing. Plus, I may be biased here, Aquatic PTs are super friendly and fun! The goal with this is to refer you to a community based exercise program. Many hospitals have this integrated into their Rehabilitarion program in some way, shape or form.

I could not swim after either transplant because I had a rather large wound to heal, but what I did in the hospital was request a PT consult and started walking right away. It comfortable at the first, but the more you walk the better you will feel. I learned that the hard way after my first transplant where I refused to get out of bed and sat and pushed my PCA button whenever I had increased pain.The second time around I was walking a mile post op day 1 and had the PT bring in a little bedside bike pedal to use whenever I was sitting up and watching tv or reading. And depending on your platelets post op, you can begin gentle upper extremity stretching in a variety of positions which helps with healing, swelling, and mobility. I always tried to adhere to what is common referred to as “Sternal precautions.” This is a basic set of guidelines given to patients who have had open heart surgery but came somewhat apply to lost liver transplant patient with some modifications. Briefly, they are:

1. Protect your sternum. Hug a pillow to your chest or cross your arms over your chest when you laugh, sneeze, or cough.

2. Be careful when you get into or out of a chair or bed. Hug a pillow or cross your arms when you stand or sit. Do not twist as you move. Use only your legs to sit and stand. You may need to use a raised toilet seat if you have trouble standing up without using your arms. Your healthcare provider may teach you to use your elbow for support as you move from lying to sitting.

3. Ask when you may take a bath or shower. You may need to use a bath chair if you have trouble getting into or out of the tub. Do not use a grab bar. Depending on where you are transplanted at, they may have different protocols for when you can shower after surgery.

4.Do not lift or carry anything heavier than 5 pounds. For example, a gallon of milk weighs 8 lbs.

5. Try to use both arms and hands for any reaching or grabbing of objects around you. Do not let anyone pull your arms to help you move or dress.

6. Do not push or pull anything. Examples include a car door or a vacuum cleaner.

7. Do not drive while you are healing. Your surgeon will tell you when it is safe for you to start driving again.

Depending on how you heal, you age and previous strength and flexibility prior to transplant, the PT can modify these to fit your particular needs.

After two liver transplants I have learned that physical fitness and diet are keys to living a long healthy life after transplant. Whenever I don’t want to go swim my 2 miles in the pool or eat my greens, I always remember that I am not just doing this for me, but for the person and the family who gave a part of their life so that I might live a little long!

Be well,

Teresa H.

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Yes, you can! I used it in rehab, but at home I don't have a table big enough to use it, so I just knit.

mlmcg

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If the only exercise you are able to do is get yourself to the bathroom, the real one not the bedside commode, congratulations! You have completed your first step. The second can be to the table for a meal or even to your favorite chair can be a wonderful experience.
mlmcg

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@mlmcg

I do not like the word sugar-free. Just what does it mean; no added natural sugar (cane, beet, honey or maple sugar), no added artificial sugars (chemically made), or things like corn syrup – it's not sugar because sugar isn't in its name. Just what is a sugar free Popsicle? I don't eat them so I don't know if you mean frozen fruit juices or flavored ice cubes with no added sweeteners? I need some help here. Once you got that new kidney it was too easy eating foods that you couldn't eat before and "chow down" on unhealthy foods now. I sat by a man, when I was no dialysis, who received a kidney when he was 19, and like all teenagers, he "chowed down" on everything in sight and ended up over 400 lbs. then lost his kidney. When I met him he was down to 300 lbs. and had to loose another 100 before he could be evaluated for another kidney.

If you believe eating "vegie soups" so you can have all the "snacks" you want will leave you with "no negative impact on your health" you could be so wrong. Once you were given a new lease on life, with the transplant, you need to care for your new kidney so it will care for you. Once you loose that kidney, for whatever reason, you may never get a chance to receive another one again. In order to keep our new kidneys we all have to have a new "life style", not a diet, which can change from day to day, but a "life style" which becomes our way of life for ever and ever.

mlmcg

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@gaylea1 I agree with you wholeheartedly. On this forum people do not criticize each other or try to push their own solutions, they just offer what has worked for them in a non-pushy way. I participated in a different forum for a while and there was criticism and members who felt they knew it all and that everyone should be listening to their advice. This forum is helpful without being like that. It's a great atmosphere in which to share.
JK

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@jodeej

My husband had his liver transplant 17 days ago. He is doing fantastic and he attributes it to the fact that he was able to go out and jog / walk a couple times a week while waiting. He also ate healthy. It has made a world of difference for him!
Blessings,
JoDee

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@jodeej
Now that he has had successful transplant, I want to share a discussion where members have shared their ideas for living with their new organ. "Living Life After your Transplant,” https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/living-life-after-your-transplant/?pg=1
Or you can read it in a newsfeed post titled "Top Transplant Hacks: Patients Share Their Best Tips and Tricks" on the Transplant Page.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/top-transplant-hacks-patients-share-their-best-tips-and-tricks/

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@teresatopeka

I have had two liver transplants at Mayo Rochester. I am also a Physical Therapist with a specialty certification in Aquatic Physical Therapy. I have found from professional and work experience, that gentle aquatic aerobic exercise in therapy pools (warmer than lap pools) is very comfortable for patients and there are very few health risks. Something to consider before seeking this out is if you have an open wounds, ostomy sites or issues with fecal/urinary incontinence. Don’t worry about not being able to get into and out off the pool because most Therapy pools have a lift or a walk in/out ramp to make it easier. Often times for patients with extreme muscle wasting, this is a great way to ease back into exercise without stressing the joints too much and is often very relaxing. Plus, I may be biased here, Aquatic PTs are super friendly and fun! The goal with this is to refer you to a community based exercise program. Many hospitals have this integrated into their Rehabilitarion program in some way, shape or form.

I could not swim after either transplant because I had a rather large wound to heal, but what I did in the hospital was request a PT consult and started walking right away. It comfortable at the first, but the more you walk the better you will feel. I learned that the hard way after my first transplant where I refused to get out of bed and sat and pushed my PCA button whenever I had increased pain.The second time around I was walking a mile post op day 1 and had the PT bring in a little bedside bike pedal to use whenever I was sitting up and watching tv or reading. And depending on your platelets post op, you can begin gentle upper extremity stretching in a variety of positions which helps with healing, swelling, and mobility. I always tried to adhere to what is common referred to as “Sternal precautions.” This is a basic set of guidelines given to patients who have had open heart surgery but came somewhat apply to lost liver transplant patient with some modifications. Briefly, they are:

1. Protect your sternum. Hug a pillow to your chest or cross your arms over your chest when you laugh, sneeze, or cough.

2. Be careful when you get into or out of a chair or bed. Hug a pillow or cross your arms when you stand or sit. Do not twist as you move. Use only your legs to sit and stand. You may need to use a raised toilet seat if you have trouble standing up without using your arms. Your healthcare provider may teach you to use your elbow for support as you move from lying to sitting.

3. Ask when you may take a bath or shower. You may need to use a bath chair if you have trouble getting into or out of the tub. Do not use a grab bar. Depending on where you are transplanted at, they may have different protocols for when you can shower after surgery.

4.Do not lift or carry anything heavier than 5 pounds. For example, a gallon of milk weighs 8 lbs.

5. Try to use both arms and hands for any reaching or grabbing of objects around you. Do not let anyone pull your arms to help you move or dress.

6. Do not push or pull anything. Examples include a car door or a vacuum cleaner.

7. Do not drive while you are healing. Your surgeon will tell you when it is safe for you to start driving again.

Depending on how you heal, you age and previous strength and flexibility prior to transplant, the PT can modify these to fit your particular needs.

After two liver transplants I have learned that physical fitness and diet are keys to living a long healthy life after transplant. Whenever I don’t want to go swim my 2 miles in the pool or eat my greens, I always remember that I am not just doing this for me, but for the person and the family who gave a part of their life so that I might live a little long!

Be well,

Teresa H.

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@mlmcg, I love to knit, too. Before my transplant I became so swollen and fatigues, that I could only knit one row on a scarf in basket stitch I was making. After my transplant, when my strength returned, I finished it in almost no time. Right now I'm trying to remember what I did with that shawl!

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@mlmcg

If the only exercise you are able to do is get yourself to the bathroom, the real one not the bedside commode, congratulations! You have completed your first step. The second can be to the table for a meal or even to your favorite chair can be a wonderful experience.
mlmcg

Jump to this post

@mlmcg
You are right! Sometimes, just doing something is a victory. – "Baby Steps" and "Count your Blessings"!

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You did "basket stitch"! I just knit. I figure if I can get it looking good again I will go on to something else, besides it keeps me off the streets.

mlmcg

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@kequick

Great topic, Rosemary! Last year we interviewed Heather Bamlet, RDN, LD, transplant clinical dietitian at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester on the topic of weight gain AFTER transplant. She had lots of good tips for getting the scale to go down, and I assume many of these are relevant to patients looking to get healthy before their transplant too.

Cooking and Meal Planning:
-Plan meals ahead of time.
-When designing a meal, follow the MyPlate method.
-Use cooking methods that will keep the foods out of reach for snacking, such as a slow cooker.

Eating:
-Be aware of your portion sizes.
-Eat more fruits and vegetables.
-Choose whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products most often.
-Keep treats like cake, candy, cookies, chips or soda to a minimum.
-If still hungry after meals using the MyPlate method, reach for more fruits and vegetables.
-Make sure you are drinking enough noncaloric fluids.

Exercise:
-Get active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly. It is better to split this up and do at least 20 minutes most days of the week.
-Do weight training. Add this in to boost your muscle mass after your surgeon clears you to do so, since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.

Here's the link to the full post: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/weight-gain-after-transplant-where-does-it-come-from-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it-2/.

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@kequick
Lots of good ideas.. I just use my fist for measure. Water aerobics is on my schedule too…as soon as PT says ok. Bone spurs and nearly torn achilles..ugh!

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@kequick

Great topic, Rosemary! Last year we interviewed Heather Bamlet, RDN, LD, transplant clinical dietitian at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester on the topic of weight gain AFTER transplant. She had lots of good tips for getting the scale to go down, and I assume many of these are relevant to patients looking to get healthy before their transplant too.

Cooking and Meal Planning:
-Plan meals ahead of time.
-When designing a meal, follow the MyPlate method.
-Use cooking methods that will keep the foods out of reach for snacking, such as a slow cooker.

Eating:
-Be aware of your portion sizes.
-Eat more fruits and vegetables.
-Choose whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products most often.
-Keep treats like cake, candy, cookies, chips or soda to a minimum.
-If still hungry after meals using the MyPlate method, reach for more fruits and vegetables.
-Make sure you are drinking enough noncaloric fluids.

Exercise:
-Get active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly. It is better to split this up and do at least 20 minutes most days of the week.
-Do weight training. Add this in to boost your muscle mass after your surgeon clears you to do so, since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.

Here's the link to the full post: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/weight-gain-after-transplant-where-does-it-come-from-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it-2/.

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@jodeej I had a very cheap kitchen scale so I asked for a better one for Christmas. My husband got me one that I love. I just googled the brand, Accuweight, and there a number of them on Amazon. I believe mine is the 207. The nice thing about it is that I can put my salad dish on the scale and as I build my salad I can set it to zero (tare) after adding each ingredient.
My almost daily salad is greens, white meat chicken, strawberries and goat cheese crumbles. I've become addicted to it. Unfortunately I have suddenly started getting cankers so I googled the cause — according to the Mayo site, it could be the strawberries. 🙁 On that site or another, it also mentions being on immunosuppressants.
JK

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@kequick

Great topic, Rosemary! Last year we interviewed Heather Bamlet, RDN, LD, transplant clinical dietitian at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester on the topic of weight gain AFTER transplant. She had lots of good tips for getting the scale to go down, and I assume many of these are relevant to patients looking to get healthy before their transplant too.

Cooking and Meal Planning:
-Plan meals ahead of time.
-When designing a meal, follow the MyPlate method.
-Use cooking methods that will keep the foods out of reach for snacking, such as a slow cooker.

Eating:
-Be aware of your portion sizes.
-Eat more fruits and vegetables.
-Choose whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products most often.
-Keep treats like cake, candy, cookies, chips or soda to a minimum.
-If still hungry after meals using the MyPlate method, reach for more fruits and vegetables.
-Make sure you are drinking enough noncaloric fluids.

Exercise:
-Get active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly. It is better to split this up and do at least 20 minutes most days of the week.
-Do weight training. Add this in to boost your muscle mass after your surgeon clears you to do so, since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.

Here's the link to the full post: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/weight-gain-after-transplant-where-does-it-come-from-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it-2/.

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@jeanne5009 I hope you find a good place for your water aerobics. The health club I go to has such a good group of women (and a few men) that it really helps to make it enjoyable, and most of the instructors are great too. We are considering moving — downsizing — and if we do so we could possibly move to a location too far for me to go to this club. If so I hope I can find a comparable one.
Even with your bone spurs and nearly torn achilles, I am sure you will be able to do the water. At my club they very consciously tell you to do what you are able, and to tailor the exercises to your own abilities.
JK

Liked by jeanne5009

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@jeanne5009

@rosemarya @colleenyoung
Thanks ladies for helping us discuss how important it is to be in shape for the changing moment of our lives. We will need all of our energy just to get thru the operation!
For me, that was a big wake up call. I somehow…managed to put on 20 lbs in 1 yr after diagnosis of Stage 4 Cirrhosis. I was and still am dead tired…not even able to get out of bed some days. No appetite…didnt even want to see the kitchen let alone go to the food store. As a young woman I was always athletic and active..cheerleader..aerobic dancing instructor…didnt know what a diet was! Suddenly I find myself in strange territory. Some of the answers are there..water retention…portal hypertension and throw in a little HE for fun! So after my evaluation at Mayo Jax…things are changing…
Because each of us has our own special set of complications… ie diabetes, etc. each of us has a different plan of attack.
I am now on the Medditeranean Diet. It's not too hard on me because I always ate pretty healthy food. The water weight was killing me so Im now reading labels and eliminating sugar and salt…best I can. I spent a whole day researching before I even attempted the grocery store. Remember nothing in a box, bag, or can is your friend. Read the labels. Fluids are very difficult for me. I never drank coffee, gave up
beer and soda years ago…not a big fan of water as I don't think it's a good idea to switch around especially when traveling. Thought fruit juice would work … still too much sugar…switched to lemonade watered down…didnt work. So…..I found bottled water that I add fresh berries or fruit and a pinch of Stevia …seems to be working. Diuretics were increased and now Im losing weight and have a little more spunk. Exercise is a whole other subject that I will talk about next time I get the motivation to get on here again.
That's part of what I am doing. I cant tell you how important finding motivation is. We each find it differently. We just have to be receptive to desiring to make the effort….
It is worth it…you WILL, of course, make yourself ready for receiving that gift of life. The former owner of my new liver deserves it….
Carry on…..

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@rosemarya
This is the real deal diet. It's not about losing lbs….its all about being healthy when it's my turn. Adaption is regulated by motivation and I have it! I have cut sugar and salt to the bone…I read every label…I stopped drinking juice and lemonade and went to 0 calorie flavored water. Sometimes I add a scant pinch of Stevia and berries. The Medditeranean Diet has enough REAL food that I don't starve and I switch menu plan items around.
I have lost 8 solid Lbs. The Dr. increased my spirolactone too so Im sure that accounts for most of it. I feel better too.
Except…for the bone spurs in both feet ..one with a tiny Achilles tear…Ugh.. Have to wear braces and PT 3 X wk for 1 Mo.
It is what it is…I thought only athletes got this stuff.
Imperative to repair and strenghten for down the road….Feet don't fail me now!!! LOL

REPLY
@kequick

Great topic, Rosemary! Last year we interviewed Heather Bamlet, RDN, LD, transplant clinical dietitian at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester on the topic of weight gain AFTER transplant. She had lots of good tips for getting the scale to go down, and I assume many of these are relevant to patients looking to get healthy before their transplant too.

Cooking and Meal Planning:
-Plan meals ahead of time.
-When designing a meal, follow the MyPlate method.
-Use cooking methods that will keep the foods out of reach for snacking, such as a slow cooker.

Eating:
-Be aware of your portion sizes.
-Eat more fruits and vegetables.
-Choose whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products most often.
-Keep treats like cake, candy, cookies, chips or soda to a minimum.
-If still hungry after meals using the MyPlate method, reach for more fruits and vegetables.
-Make sure you are drinking enough noncaloric fluids.

Exercise:
-Get active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly. It is better to split this up and do at least 20 minutes most days of the week.
-Do weight training. Add this in to boost your muscle mass after your surgeon clears you to do so, since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.

Here's the link to the full post: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/weight-gain-after-transplant-where-does-it-come-from-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it-2/.

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@contentandwell
I sure hope they don't change your class. That happened to a friend of mine who takes Zumba. She found a new place and likes it even better. I used to teach aerobic dancing classes and it can be great fun! Let us know what happens.

REPLY
@kequick

Great topic, Rosemary! Last year we interviewed Heather Bamlet, RDN, LD, transplant clinical dietitian at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester on the topic of weight gain AFTER transplant. She had lots of good tips for getting the scale to go down, and I assume many of these are relevant to patients looking to get healthy before their transplant too.

Cooking and Meal Planning:
-Plan meals ahead of time.
-When designing a meal, follow the MyPlate method.
-Use cooking methods that will keep the foods out of reach for snacking, such as a slow cooker.

Eating:
-Be aware of your portion sizes.
-Eat more fruits and vegetables.
-Choose whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products most often.
-Keep treats like cake, candy, cookies, chips or soda to a minimum.
-If still hungry after meals using the MyPlate method, reach for more fruits and vegetables.
-Make sure you are drinking enough noncaloric fluids.

Exercise:
-Get active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly. It is better to split this up and do at least 20 minutes most days of the week.
-Do weight training. Add this in to boost your muscle mass after your surgeon clears you to do so, since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.

Here's the link to the full post: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/weight-gain-after-transplant-where-does-it-come-from-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it-2/.

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@jeanne5009 It's not them changing the class that I am concerned about, it's that if we move and I need to find a new club, will I find one that I like as much as the one I go now. Plus, being in NH, my club is less expensive than many will be if we move to MA. I pay about $70 a month and for the club I go to that is pretty reasonable. All the classes I take are included in that cost.
JK

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@jeanne5009, How are you feeling? I have so much I want to ask you about: dietary changes, bone spurs, PT, and how you are navigating Florida's Red Tide? I know I am asking for a novel – but I would love to have a glimpse of what's happening with you. Hugs, Rosemary

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