Everyone has to meet with a dietitian before Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) to meet insurance requirements. Some people may look at this as a box they need to check or another hoop to jump through along with all the other specialists they need to see to get approved for surgery.
Instead, look at these meetings with your bariatric dietitian as a chance to learn as much as you can about how your diet will change and how you can begin making those changes. Meeting with a bariatric dietitian is an important part of your WLS journey to begin to learn a new way of eating. Nutrition is the cornerstone of WLS success — even with surgery — if you are not following the bariatric way of eating, you will not maximize your weight loss and will regain.
Below are 5 questions you should ask at your meetings with your bariatric dietitian:
- How will my diet change once I have WLS?
The goal of WLS is not just to lose weight, but to lose mainly body fat and maintain muscle. Losing too much muscle is a mistake that can slow down your metabolism (make weight loss harder and weight regain easier), not to mention make you weak. Your muscles are made out of protein, so the meal plan for WLS is to eat protein based meals and protein supplements. Protein needs to be eaten at each meal to maintain an adequate protein intake to sustain muscle and lose body fat.
- How much protein do I need?
Most bariatric patients need approximately 60-100 grams protein daily depending on your height, weight, gender and physical activity level. Your bariatric dietitian will tell you how much protein you need.
- How do I get in the amount of protein I need each day?
You need to eat/drink protein at each meal. WLS makes your stomach smaller, so you get full faster. To reach your daily protein goal, you need to eat protein first to get in the protein you need. If you eat other food groups first or eat a little of everything on your plate, you will get full and not be able to make your protein goal. Once you eat your protein, you can then have a non-starchy vegetable and if you still have room, a healthy carbohydrate. Your dietitian will give you a list of non-starchy vegetables and healthy carbohydrates to choose from.
- How do I know I am getting in the protein and other nutrients?
Your bariatric dietitian will teach you how to count your grams of protein so you can keep tabs on how much protein you eat or drink. You will also learn which foods are your best sources of protein to help you reach your goals. In addition, you will learn how to correctly read food labels so you can make more informed food choices to pack in as much nutrition as possible.
- How/when do I start making these changes in my diet?
When you meet with your bariatric dietitian before surgery, they will have you start eating “the bariatric way” to begin getting used to the new meal plan. The specific types and amounts of foods you should be eating and drinking will be discussed. Additionally, you will be taught the best cooking methods, how to eat at restaurants (yes, you can still eat out!) and strategies to help you make these important lifestyle changes.
Changing habits is hard work and takes patience and perseverance. Don’t wait until you have your WLS to make changes – habits change the longer and consistently you practice them! When you start you WLS journey at your first nutrition visit – you have taken the first step in a healthier, happier you!
Prime Surgicare’s Comprehensive Bariatric Success Program
Prime Surgicare’s one-of-a-kind Bariatric Success Program offers a five-pronged approach to preparing and ensuring your long-term weight loss success, including private visits with a bariatric nutritionist.
Start your journey by joining us at an upcoming free bariatric patient seminar or webinar.
If you prefer a private consultation, call our friendly bariatric medicine specialists at (732) 982-2002 to schedule an office visit within the next seven days.
Dietitian’s Corner is a monthly column for post-op and pre-op patients of bariatric surgery in NJ written by Prime Surgicare’s Lori Skurbe. Lori has been a dietitian for over 20 years with an extensive background in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education.