Pretty much everyone that is having bariatric surgery is required to follow a restrictive diet for the two weeks before surgery.
The idea of the diet is primarily to help shrink the liver. The liver sits in front of the stomach and the surgeon will need to move it out of the way to perform the bariatric procedure. And an enlarged liver makes the operation more difficult for the surgeon, and potentially more risky. And so, even though the pre-op diet is hard to follow, it’s certainly worth the short-term sacrifice.
The diet itself is high-protein, low-carbohydrate, and low-calorie. The protein helps you feel full, and at the same time help maintain muscles in the body. And by cutting out fat, carbohydrates (which metabolises as sugar in the body), the liver will shrink enough to make the surgery easier.
Your nutritionist of dietician will probably give you a diet to follow, and it’ll be based either on certain foods, or on meal-replacement shakes or drinks – or a mix and match of the two. Some may also want you on a liquid diet immediately before the surgery. But the overall goal of all the different diets is to restrict you to 800 calories a day.
The average calories for an adult to maintain their weight is 2,500 for a man, and 2,000 for a woman. And as an obese person, I know that I’m used to eating and drinking a hell of a lot more calories than that every day! And so a limit of 800 will feel quite difficult.
My pre-surgery diet
In addition to limiting my intake to 800 calories, I’ll also be trying to consume at least 70g of protein a day, and I’ll also be starting on my course of multivitamins and calcium supplements to ensure I get all the nutrients my body needs.
My own surgery is just over 2 weeks away now, and so I’m about to start my pre-op diet in the next few days. My plan is to try the meal-replacement shakes for breakfast and lunch, and then have a proper meal of meat and vegetables for dinner. That’s the plan, but let’s see how it goes in practise!
A final blowout?
And with a only a couple of days left before the diet and then the operation, there’s a temptation to go crazy and eat loads of foods that I’ll not be able to eat after surgery. A bit like a last blow-out or a condemned man’s last meal! However I’m also trying to resist this urge to go crazy, as that’s just a manifestation of my food addiction, which is what got me to this point of being morbidly obese. I also think it might make transitioning onto the pre-op diet even harder.
I’ll be honest with you, the diet really scares me. I’m not sure if the meal-replacement shakes will satisfy me – physically or psychologically – and I might be tempted to eat other things. But I’m going to try my hardest to keep to it – and maybe make sure I have lot of low or zero calorie snacks available for when I might struggle.