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Establishing New Lifelong Eating Habits After LAP-BAND Surgery

Jun 29, 2008
While LAP-BAND surgery is the first step on the journey towards weight loss and healthy living, there are many dietary guidelines that patients need to follow to ensure long-term success. During the first few weeks after surgery, patients will be limited to clear liquids and soft foods. After the initial recovery period, patients will be encouraged to eat three healthy meals each day and develop healthy eating habits. To help you make the most of your LAP-BAND experience, utilize both the guidelines featured here and the advice offered by your bariatric surgery center to develop lifelong eating habits.

The First 4-6 Weeks after LAP-BAND Surgery

Immediately after LAP-BAND surgery, patients may suck on ice cubes or take small sips of water. The next day, you should be able to increase the amount of fluids you consume. However, to prevent nausea, your doctor will instruct you to limit how much you drink at one time for a few days after surgery.

Approximately one week after surgery, you will be able to incorporate other liquids and some soft foods into your diet. Many LAP-BAND patients use clear broths or soups - without any type of vegetables or meats - as diet staples from the first week after surgery until they are cleared by doctors to consume more traditional foods about 4-6 weeks after the procedure. Your doctor will help you determine both how much fluid to consume and how often for the first few weeks after surgery.

LAP-BAND patients are encouraged to incorporate very soft foods into their diets as they prepare to transition into their healthy diets. Foods such as gelatin, yogurt, skim milk and certain fruit juices or purees can be enjoyed by patients within the first few weeks of surgery.

New Foods, New Eating Habits

About 4-6 weeks after LAP-BAND surgery, your doctor will allow you to begin consuming more regular meals with solid foods. Beginning with foods such as creamy soups, you will soon be able to transition into meals with fresh fish, chicken and pork.

As you begin eating new foods, you will also be directed by your doctor to follow several new healthy eating habits. The most important guideline to follow for a lifetime of healthy eating will be three small daily meals, each consumed without any beverages. The focus should be on building regular meals with fruits, vegetables and lean protein and to avoid snacking throughout the day. With a properly adjusted LAP-BAND, this should not feel like a diet but rather very satisfying and energizing.

In addition to learning about healthy ways to prepare your meals, you will also need to develop the ability to take tiny bites of food and chew slowly and completely. After LAP-BAND surgery, you might have difficulty digesting certain whole foods if you eat too quickly or fail to chew each bite approximately 15-20 times.

Between your meals, it will also be important to stay hydrated. While you may enjoy occasional cups of coffee (without cream or sugar) or tea, you should spend most of your day drinking water. Both free of calories and cost, water is the best thing to drink between meals as a lifelong healthy eating habit.

Good Foods for LAP-BAND Patients

The staple of any healthy diet should be an assortment of fruits and vegetables. LAP-BAND patients should try to incorporate 1-2 servings of fruits and 2-3 servings of vegetables each day as part of the three recommended meals.

One of the three daily meals should also include one small serving of lean protein. After removing the skin and fat, meats should be grilled or steamed to ensure that the protein remains low in fat.

When your meals include dairy products, you should use low-fat yogurt or skim milk instead of full-fat alternatives. However, try to limit your dairy consumption to 2 cups of skim milk, 2 cups of low-fat yogurt or 1 ounce of low-fat cheese each day.

In the morning, you can also enjoy simple cereals without added sugar. When shopping, look for cereals such as corn flakes, but check to ensure that your choice is free of excessive sugar. Whole wheat and rye bread also represent healthy options for grains. One or two slices of bread can be enjoyed as part of a healthy breakfast or used with fresh vegetables for a lunchtime sandwich.

Bad Foods for LAP-BAND Patients

To remain committed to healthy eating and meet your weight loss goals, there are a number of foods that you'll need to avoid after LAP-BAND surgery. The most obvious exclusions from a healthy diet are items with high fat content. As high levels of fat can be found in many foods that may seem healthy, it is important to track your consumption of fat and choose low-fat alternatives whenever possible. For instance, purchase only low-fat salad dressings and sauces and limit your use of items like margarine and olive oil to only 3-4 teaspoons daily.

Another obvious item to avoid when pursuing healthy eating habits is sugar. Generally speaking, most pastries and sweets include large amounts of sugar and should be avoided. Yet, items such as jam, honey and soft drinks also pack a sugary punch and should be eliminated in favor of healthier foods.

Foods that are fried in oil represent the last obvious exclusion from a healthy diet. While it is easy to recognize unhealthy foods like French fries and fried chicken, there are plenty of fried foods that can fool us. If you are dining out and can't determine how an entrée is prepared, ask the waiter or chef for healthy recommendations.

Lastly, there are two more types of food that should be avoided by LAP-BAND patients, but these items often seem like healthy options. Tough meats - such as certain cuts of beef or pork - should be avoided as it is difficult to chew these foods well enough for healthy digestion. Also, fibrous vegetables- such as asparagus - should also be avoided because they can be difficult to breakdown enough for easy passage through the LAP-BAND.

Though preparing healthy, delicious meals might seem like a challenge for many LAP-BAND patients, establishing new lifelong eating habits can also be enjoyable. After learning about all the healthy options and practicing your cooking techniques, you will be able to immerse yourself in new, exciting flavors every day and look forward to a lifetime of healthy living.
About the Author
Carole S. Guinane, a Chief Clinical Officer writes articles about obesity and weight loss for New Hope Today.
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