Losing weight can sometimes be a lonely and isolating process; especially as food often comes into play in social situations. (Really, who wants to be the only person having celery sticks instead of nachos at a party, or passing up dessert when dining out with friends?) Bariatric surgery, however, is one weight-loss tool that you won’t have to struggle through alone. The Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program offers a comprehensive support staff before and after the surgery, including a team of dedicated nutrition specialists.
“Dietitians spend the majority of their time working with patients and prepping them for healthy eating and lifestyle changes,” says Emily Newell RD, LDN, CNSC, a staff dietician at Pennsylvania Hospital. Their goal is to guide you to make choices about what, how, and how much you eat that will ensure you’re getting adequate nutrition while you achieve weight loss in a healthy way.
You will typically first meet your dietician three to six months before surgery, to help prepare mentally and physically for the procedure. “We like to get a feel for how long they’ve been trying to lose weight, and what gets them off track,” says Newell. Topics you discuss may include your current eating and exercise habits, lifestyle, and any diet attempts you’ve made in the past.
Beginning the day after surgery, you’ll have regular follow-up visits with your dietician to check your progress and answer any questions you might have. “Patients can come back for as long as they’d like,” says Newell. “And we’re always available by phone or email.”
Bariatric patients often have special needs that a trained professional can help address. For the first two weeks after surgery, you’ll be on a diet of protein shakes and clear liquids; for two weeks after that, pureed foods. As your stomach heals and gets used to thicker-consistency foods, Newell says you can slowly add in yogurt, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, scrambled eggs. About a month post-surgery, you can start on what she calls “soft solids” such as ground turkey, canned tuna, or soft cooked vegetables.
As you recover and begin to eat more regular meals, the personal, one-on-one advice you can get from a dietician can help you continue to make the kind of healthy choices that lead to lasting weight loss. “A lot of times, people don’t see instant results and get discouraged so they go back to drinking soda and binge eating,” says Newell. “Dieticians can help get them back on track.”
Many patients have already lost hundreds of pounds and improved their overall health and quality of life thanks to the Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program and its strong support team. Learn more information by signing up for a free weight-loss surgery information session today.