10 Things You Can Do Today to Begin Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery
There are many essential steps you must take to prepare for weight loss (bariatric) surgery, and your commitment to lifestyle change begins before surgery itself.
Here are 10 things you can start doing today to begin preparing for weight loss surgery:
- Learn about weight loss surgery: Read books, view websites, attend a support group and talk with others who have had surgery to become informed about the procedures offered, risks and lifestyle changes. Visit our website for a list of resources and additional information.
- Research your insurance policy: Not all insurance plans offer coverage for weight loss surgery and the pre- and post-operative clinic visits. Many also have requirements for BMI, age, weight-related conditions and completion of a supervised diet.
- If you smoke, quit smoking and discontinue use of all tobacco and nicotine products: Smoking and the use of tobacco and nicotine products have been proven to dramatically increase the risk of complications during and after bariatric surgery. We require our patients to be tobacco-free as well as off all nicotine products for a minimum of three months prior to beginning pre-surgery education.
- Make changes in your diet: Try to eat three regular meals and one to two small snacks per day. When planning meals, be sure to include breakfast and try to avoid eating within four hours of bedtime. Focus on increasing protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, while reducing or eliminating sugar and high-fat foods, as well as fast-food and restaurant meals.
- Begin tracking your food and water: Recording your eating and drinking habits can uncover valuable information and help you identify opportunities for improvement.
- Drink more water and limit all other beverages: Follow your body's thirst signals. Adults need at least 64 ounces of water every day. Identify and limit or eliminate sources of liquid calories, including alcohol, soda, juice, energy drinks and coffee with cream or sugar. Eliminate caffeinated and carbonated beverages. Stop drinking liquids with your meals and wait 30 minutes after a meal before drinking.
- Begin an exercise routine: If you are not currently exercising, start small and create a consistent physical activity plan that fits your ability - short walks, chair exercises and small increases in daily activity can make a difference. Find an activity you enjoy and focus on frequency rather than intensity. Gradually build up exercise time by adding a few minutes of activity every day.
- Commit to not gaining additional weight: It is important to not gain weight while preparing for surgery. Avoid "last suppering" and overeating in anticipation of making diet and lifestyle changes later on. Your team of health care providers may discuss additional pre-surgery weight loss goals with you.
- Change your relationship with food: Begin to think about food as essential fuel for your body and pay attention to how your body reacts to the food you eat. Increase your awareness of external cues for eating, as well as satiation (fullness) cues. Eat mindfully - avoid eating while distracted (including at your desk or while watching TV). Focus on eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, really tasting and savoring your food. Work to reduce or eliminate "reactive" eating when bored, tired, stressed or using food to cope with emotions.
- Focus on your mental and emotional health: Begin thinking about what factors have contributed to your weight and what has been in the way of making changes in your life. Think about your readiness for change at this time. Consider starting a list or journal of healthy and motivating lifestyle changes you are making. Develop a support network of positive, caring people. Find alternative ways of coping with emotional eating. Remember that making lifestyle changes is a process that takes time - take small steps, set realistic goals and stay positive.