We asked Sue to tell us about her experiences with patients she’s helped following their weight loss surgery and what diet they need to follow at different stages of the process:
Sue Norton, Specialist Bariatric Dietitian
"Once my patients have recovered from their surgery and are a little further down the line in their weight loss journey, I usually ask them if they are pleased they had the surgery and the most common response I get is the phrase “I wish I’d done it years ago."
That’s because weight loss surgery can be life-changing and many of my patients often report following their weight loss, their confidence and self-esteem improve, they feel better, have more energy and often just say that they have got their life back.
Weight loss surgery is a big decision and not one that should be entered into lightly, it’s important to do your research about the different surgeries and ask questions in your consultation so you really understand what is involved. It still requires work and dedication on your part in terms of following a healthy lifestyle, but it really can give amazing results.
You will usually need to follow a pre-operative diet designed to shrink the liver prior to surgery. This has very clear calorie and carbohydrate limits and it can be quite strict to follow. This can be for a few days or a few weeks depending on your current BMI and surgeon’s recommendations. However, it does get you prepared for surgery and is an important part of the journey.
The dietitians are on hand to help make it easier where possible and sometimes might advise changing to a different dietary option that might suit you better. Weight loss isn’t the main focus at this stage as the diet is purely for its liver reducing effects, but it is most likely you will lose some weight during this phase.
There is lots of advice and support provided by our team of specialists. Unlike the pre-operative diet, there aren’t restrictions on calorie intake at this stage, but the focus generally shifts more onto protein. Protein is essential in the early stages to ensure everything heals properly so we advise nourishing, smooth fluids at this stage.
We advise against any lumps or bumps or using a straw this early on. It is important to sip then liquids slowly and have at least a 20-second rest before the next sip just so everything is passing into the stomach slowly and in small quantities.
Gastric band patients will move straight to a soft diet. Whereas gastric bypass and sleeve patients will do a puree diet first then progressing onto a soft diet. The pureed diet is basically like a thickened liquid (baby food consistency) and a blender is needed for this stage. It’s important to remember that only a small amount should be eaten at one time (no bigger than a 20p piece size) and rest between each mouthful.
The dietitians will discuss the correct eating technique in much more detail during consultations. By the soft stage, many of my patients are usually pleased to be on “proper” food again and often report this stage is much easier to follow.
Patients sometimes report they are a little nervous about this and others can’t wait to get back onto normal foods, but it isn’t a race and we advise making this a gradual progression. The dietitians advise on each stage of this in lots of detail and give support, help and advice as needed.
Sue tells us that “The aftercare really is such an important part of the weight loss journey. In order to get the best possible results from weight loss surgery, the follow-up consultations are invaluable”.
Advice on healthy eating, balanced meals, the correct eating technique, correct supplements, weight loss goals and meal ideas is just a small fraction of what the specialist bariatric team can offer. Our goal is to ensure the patients feel supported in their journey, so they reach their weight loss targets in a healthy way.
Gastric band patients also have the additional support of BandBoozled, an online slimming club for band patients run by Sue and her business partner Nic Harris – one of The Hospital Groups specialist nurses. This is a huge source of information, recipes, meal plans and weekly updates which can help you on your journey. There is also a weight login area where you can track your weight and measurements and a Forum where you can talk to others with a gastric band and ask questions.
If you are thinking about weight loss surgery, why not contact us at The Hospital Group and see if it could be an option for you.