Nutrition & Exercise
A new approach to nutrition and exercise
After your procedure, you'll get a new nutrition plan. You'll learn about the positive changes you can and need to make in your diet and lifestyle from your doctor and/or dietitian. It's very important to follow your new eating and drinking instructions immediately after the procedure. Though doctors differ in their post-surgery diet recommendations, it typically takes about four weeks before you can go back to a “normal” diet of solid foods. Don’t worry, though — it goes by super fast!
Liquid Diet (1-2 weeks post-surgery)
In the first few weeks after your Lap Band procedure, your goal is to protect the small stomach pouch so that you can heal properly. It can only tolerate liquids at this time. It's also important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water (small amounts at a time).
Other liquids recommended during this phase include:
- Clear broth or soup (with no vegetables or meat, and not creamy)
- Skim milk
- Fruit juice
- No-sugar-added popsicles
Pureed Foods (3-4 weeks post-surgery)
Now, you can start adding slightly textured foods. Think of the consistency of baby foods. This stage will help you transition to more solid foods later. Protein is very important for maintaining muscle while you lose weight, so you should eat protein-rich foods first, and then move on to fruits and vegetables.
Foods in this stage may include:
- Pureed skinless chicken or fish
- Apple sauce
- Cottage cheese
- Low-fat yogurt or pudding
Soft Foods (5 weeks post-surgery)
Your meals can now include tender, cooked foods like fish and ground turkey. Now that you can chew, make it a habit to chew your food well. If you don’t chew your food properly, you may experience vomiting, stomach irritation and swelling. Inadequate chewing can also lead to a stoma obstruction (obstruction of the stomach opening created by the Lap Band).
Some products like bread, red meat, and rice may still cause you problems, so it is better to eat softer foods that are easier to digest. These might include foods such as moist white meat (chicken or pork) and fish. If solid foods cause any nausea and vomiting, go back to the liquid diet you had earlier. Then you can slowly add soft foods and eventually transition to solid foods. Keep in mind that vomiting may increase the incidence of band slippage, stomach slippage or stretching of the small stomach pouch above your Lap Band — so if vomiting becomes a persistent problem, be sure to talk with your doctor.
Once you can eat solid foods without problems, you will need to pay close attention to your diet. It is recommended that you eat only three small meals (typically about 1 cup of food, each) a day and make sure that these meals contain adequate nutrients. There are few real restrictions on foods you can eat, but you will need to learn how to make smart, healthy choices. You will also learn to avoid problem foods like high-fiber, high-fat, and dry foods, since these are more difficult for the small stomach pouch to digest. Good food choices include fruit and vegetables, lean protein, some bread and cereal, and some dairy products. Foods that have a concentrated supply of calories with little nutritional value, such as milkshakes, syrups, jam and pastries should be avoided as much as possible.
What about liquids?
Staying hydrated and drinking lots of water throughout the day is important, but there are things you need to know before you sip:
- Your Lap Band is designed to restrict solids, but not liquids. They pass right through your stomach pouch, so drinking liquids will not make you feel full.
- During meals, you should sip liquids in small amounts so your food is not flushed through your stomach pouch.
- Liquids like sodas, soft drinks and some juices can hide a lot of calories so choose wisely!
Adding exercise to your day
Incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine is as important as following your nutrition plan. Many Lap Band patients have been sedentary due to decreased activity tolerance, psychological constraints and, in some cases, physical disabilities, so starting an exercise program can be a big change. Talk with your surgeon and True Results aftercare team to find out which activity is right for you. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Start slowly! 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, three times a week, is usually recommended for beginners. If you can do more, great! And if 20 minutes is too much, start with 10 or 15 and work your way up.
- Walking and swimming are good, low-impact options. You can also bounce or jog on a mini trampoline.
- Add weight-bearing exercise to your routine to build muscle and burn calories more efficiently.
- Find simple exercises to do at your desk or during the commercials of your favorite TV shows.