Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine
6 Top Things to Avoid after WLS and Why
Having Bariatric surgery is a steep learning curve - there’s a lot to learn in a short space of time, and often we know the “rules” about certain foods and products we should avoid - but often we either are not told why, or can’t remember!
Let’s have a look at 6 things to avoid, when to avoid them and why - remembering that your professional team knows you the best - so if in doubt, always ask directly, and use all other information as a guide.
1. Processed Foods:
Food is the key to our vitality, and the further it is from its natural state when it reaches your plate - the less “life” you will find there.
Examples of processed foods include:
- Processed cheese
- Breakfast cereals
- Refined bread
- Savoury snacks, such as crisps, sausage rolls, pies and pasties
- Meat products, such as bacon, sausage, ham, salami
- Microwave meals or ready meals
- Cakes and biscuits
An important step in your weight loss journey is eliminating the ultra-processed food items from your diet.
One common cause of weight regain after gastric sleeve surgery is the resumption of processed food intake.
Not only does it pack a punch for sugar, carbs, wheat, and unhealthy fats, processed food does nothing for your delicate gut health which now needs all the love you can give it.
2. Soft Drinks and Cordial
Soft drink is off the menu for a few reasons - one of the most hair raising - it poses a risk to the suture sites in your pouch or bypass and is deemed unsafe - some surgeons recommend this for life, others for a certain period after surgery. I tend to lean towards “does it have anything good to offer?”
High in calories, these risky bubbly concoctions really offer no nutrition benefit. Once upon a time they were a 'party treat’ but now are an “everyday item” and this is where the problem lies.
When the key to losing weight and keeping it off is based largely on limiting insulin levels and reducing calories - these drinks really have no place in the healthy and balanced food plan you are looking for after WLS.
Sugar laden drinks and foods are known to cause DUMPING SYNDROME which is a very uncomfortable situation where cramping, sweating, vomiting, headaches, and diarrhoea can result either immediately or soon after overconsumption.
Not knowing about slider foods can be a huge stumbling block for anyone about to embark on their bariatric weight loss journey, whether you're having a gastric bypass or sleeve, understanding slider foods is super important.
So what constitutes a “Slider food?”
Simply put - foods that take up space in the packet, but once ingested turn to a carby mush that takes up no room in your tummy and adds nothing really form a nutrient perspective.
Here’s some examples so you know what you look for:
- Chips or crisps
- Crackers, Salada biscuits rice crackers/cakes, ritz, jatz, crackers, bbq shapes
- Pretzels and Popcorn
- Sweet biscuits
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Potato chips
- Sweets, Candy and Lollies
These foods often come packed with trans fats, calories, salt, and will leave you HUNGRY later on because they don't stay in your tum long enough to keep you satisfied.
The end result - heaps of extra calories you don’t want, little in the nutritional bank account we so desperately need and an empty hungry tummy that is asking for more of the same in no time at all.
“The industrialisation of food and the increased consumption of highly processed meat, dairy and refined wheat products have greatly contributed to the obesity epidemic”.
It’s recommended that patients abstain from alcohol for the first 12 months after surgery, when new habits are important to form and the focus is on rapid weight loss.
Alcohol and the things we like to mix it with are high in calories , spike insulin levels and acts as an appetite stimulant - Bariatric Surgery 101 is about quelling insatiable appetites, so adding alcohol can be quite a contrary idea.
Some patients find that they are more heavily affected by alcohol, so it needs to be done carefully if you do introduce an odd social drink.
Make sure you have had a substantial meal, and enough water.
Drinking alcohol with a gastric sleeve is a personal choice and can be safe when done in moderation and with caution. Before you fill your glass though, it’s always a good idea to consult with your surgeon to discuss alcohol use in your specific case.
5. Greasy/Deep Fried Foods
A major part of Gastric Sleeve and Bypass surgery is the impact on digestive secretions - Enzymes, Bile and acid are required to:
Break Down Food and Draw as much nutrition from it as possible
Manage Protein Breakdown
Emulsify Fats and make them digestible.
The lack of enzymes and acid can leave you with a lowered capacity to manage fats. The signs of this are pale and pasty stools, feeling of fullness or distention directly under the rib cage and smelly gas and diarrhoea.
Deep fried foods are again high in calories and unnecessary fats, but are also quite hard to digest.
Gall bladder issues are prevalent after WLS and the best methodology to help prevent complaints like gallstones is to reduce the work the gallbladder needs to do by removing fried foods/ overly fatty cuts of meat from your meal plan.
Ideally your daily meal choices should be geared to improving gut health, and reducing the burden of digesting processed and overly fatty foods so your body can work on healing and weight loss.
6. Ibuprofen / NSAIDS
The reduced stomach size with all types of gastric surgery presents a major problem with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Administration of NSAIDs after WLS carries an increased risk for serious damage to the stomach pouch, which may result in gastric ulcers. Always consult your team when you are considering any type of medication after weight loss surgery.
And always remind your prescribing doctor that you have had WLS to avoid any adverse effects.
BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine