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Is it okay to cheat on your Pre-Op Diet?

7 Sep

This question comes up a lot on the various forums. You often see people seeking absolution or beating themselves up because they had a cheeseburger. People appear to view this from two extreme angles. On the one hand you have some saying “is it absolutely NOT okay to cheat on the pre-op” while others will give examples of how they cheated and nothing bad happened. So it is okay or is it not?

Pre-ops vary a lot from no pre-op diet to a full liquids diet, to some food allowed, to a clear liquids only diet.  Fair to say, anyone who has to do even a week of liquids does have a hard time. We’re given two reasons why we have to do the pre-op. Most commonly, it’s because it’s meant to shrink our livers so that they don’t interfere with the surgery on our stomachs. But even here, professionals do not agree. Some doctors believe it helps, others will tell you it takes longer than a couple of weeks to treat a fatty liver. We’ve all also heard stories about patients who did not follow their pre-op and woke up to find the doctor had not completed the surgery.

The second reason we’re given is to help us detox and learn new habits. If you stop for a moment and think of what you will be giving up during the pre-op, many of which you will not be picking up post-op for quite a well, here are just a few things:

1. No caffeine. Aaargh!
2. Carbs below 50 gms a day
3. Less than 1000 calories a day
4. Much more protein than we usually intake
5. Liquids only plus veg soup (in my case). Not easy.
6. No straws
7. No fat to speak of
8. No sugar
9. No fruit

10. No carbonated beverages

No wonder people struggle. But here’s the thing.

The pre-op is totally doable.

It’s tough, but doable. You sort of have to take it one day at a time. Here’s why I didn’t cheat.

First, I was facing a major change in my way of living, and I wanted to get ready for it. Second, I was facing major surgery. I am not a medical doctor, I have no idea whether it shrinks my liver or not, but if I trusted a doctor to take out 85% of my stomach, then I was going to trust his advice on the pre-op. Third, I needed to feel in control. My biggest problem with food was that I felt out of control with it. Not because I ate too much, but because no matter what I ate, I seemed to put on weight.

The liquid diet put ME back in control. I wasn’t being driven by food, I set a routine, and I drank my shake and ate my soup according to the clock .

The first four days were hellish. I needed a nap all the time, I was exhausted and I worried that I would never make it through and still be able to make a living.

On the fifth day, a switch flipped and all my old energy came rushing back. My experience is not unusual. Everyone tells you the first few days are no fun. Start your diet on a Friday and allow yourself to sleep through most of the weekend, and you will do better.

I went into the surgery feeling very confident that I could follow the rules set forth by my doctor, and I am glad I didn’t cheat myself out of that win. I felt in control, calm, and like I had a handle on what was about to come.

What if you did cheat though?

Again, people’s opinions vary. Some will tell you this means that you will fail post op, while others will tell you to get back on the horse and give it your best shot. No matter how you approach this, I do think you should let your surgeon know. Sometimes they can come up with slightly modified guidelines so your pre-op is easier, at other times they can give you tips on what to do.

We’ve all heard horror stories of people who ate before surgery and ended up with complications, leaks, etc. You don’t want to risk it. Let your surgeon know, and do what they tell you to. It’s all good. 🙂

Will I be on a diet for the rest of my life? Or can I eat in moderation?

5 Sep


This discussion comes up a lot amongst us sleevers. If you think of diet as what you eat, well, we all follow a diet, don’t we? If you mean diet as in restricting what you eat, then the answer is more complicated.

You will probably always have to eat your protein first. This is to fill you up quickly as well as to help you reach your protein goals. But after that, you do have some flexibility.

Let’s say our calorie goal is 800 calories with 80 gms of protein. That could be Protein/Fat/Carb ratio of perhaps 40/30/30. That translates to 80 gms protein, 60 gms carbs, 27 gms Fat. Let’s further say that we need at least 25 gms of fiber a day based on best practices but we may or may not get all of it from food, although we want to get most of it from food.

Well that pretty much dictates what we can eat, right?

You HAVE to eat protein first, you probably do need to add fruits and veggies at some point to get roughage, and healthy fats so you don’t look like a shrunken, dried-up mummy.

So where’s there that much room to play?

Pre-sleeve, I used to eat three slices of thin crust, half-the-cheese, veggie pizza. If I can eat one slice, and that puts me at 150 calories for my “splurge”, surely that’s doable? OTOH…I am a sugar addict. I cannot eat sugar without massively affecting my body chemistry and craving more and more sugar. I may choose to never eat it again because I don’t like how it affects me both physically and mentally. Or I may find that I can eat a bite and not crave more (only 4 weeks out, no idea how this will play out). Others sleevers don’t have that problem. They can eat a bite and what gets to them is not that bite, but telling themselves they can NEVER have sugar again which causes a binge.  Okay, here we have some room to play.

Some of us have trigger foods, some don’t.

But no one seems to disagree that we have to monitor total calories and get our protein first. So perhaps this diet vs.moderation is not reality, but rather perception. Is it about how we like to see ourselves? (I control my intake carefully vs. I eat what I want in moderation)

Image courtesy of artemisphoto/

Day Eight of Post-Op: Trying to do too much

11 Aug

tired puppy


We make soup today! Shrimp Bisque and Chicken & Mushroom, both pureed. I don’t know how to shop or cook for small meals. I barely have pots in the house small enough for our new meals. I take out the cauliflower I bought. I picked the smallest one at the market. The WLS Surgery recipe calls for 1 cup for four people. That’s about a fourth of the entire dang cauliflower. What am I supposed to do with the rest?  The chicken soup recipe calls for 1/2 lb of chicken. I have no idea what size pot I need to cook that little chicken. I’ve been cooking for a family since I was 14, and here I am at 47,  I can’t guesstimate the right pot size for so little food.

I’ve been telling R he will have to stop going to Costco but I don’t think he quite believed me until he saw the proportions of food we’re cooking. Forget Costco, I think I may need to start buy veggies at the Salad bar instead of at the grocery!

And after all that? I eat 2 oz and R can get in 4 oz of the soup before we’re too full for more!

Friends want to come visit to check on us. We start to clean the house and to cook something for them. After several hours of whirl winding around, we are SO tired that my tummy hurts. R is cranky and over-sensitive and has to go lie down after he loses it with the kids and me over nothing. The hormone thing is doing a whammy on him for sure. We give him hugs and reassure him we still love him, and then sit down to eat as a family.

I decide we will have to let our friends know we are not up for company yet. We’re really, really not. At all.

We may not hurt, but we tire easily and then we get cranky. Need to tread slowly still.  R and I go to lie down in our bed at 1 pm. The kids follow as does the dog. We spend the rest of the day hanging about together, all of us on our computers, chatting occasionally, resting, reading, and playing with the dog. From time to time, I get up to make food/snacks for the kids, and R gets up to make our soups.

THIS is how you recover on a Saturday after surgery my friends. Soul-food time, with no food, just love to feed your soul.

And a little soup maybe.

TODAY is the day!

2 Aug

sleeve gastrectomy




All right people, this is it. My husband and I go in today. I slept surprisingly well last night and feel ready to face this. More worried about my husband being okay than about me, but that’s for no good reason except that I love him dearly.

I’m going into this feeling very good, except for a niggling doubt that this too, may not work for me. I’ve tried everything. I haven’t even lost anything for the last 8-10 days on a liquid diet of 800 calories, so part of me thinks, I will be that freak of nature for whom this wont work. Again, probably illogical but that’s my fear.

So asking my fellow sleeves for your thoughts and prayers for us, for a successful surgery, and a positive outcome afterwards.

What made me choose VSG?

1 Aug




I’m 47. Potentially more than half my life is over. I wanted to live like a thin person. After years of yo yo dieting, I could no longer lose weight, pretty much no matter what I did pre-sleeve. After losing 45 lbs due to almost dying, I put it ALL back in 3-4 months! There is no way a person can eat enough to put on 45 lbs in 3 months  I know I didn’t.

At that point, I had to accept my metabolism, my body chemistry, something somewhere was broken. I could control my behaviors, but I could not control the outcomes. I could eat like a normal person, I could restrict calories, I could exercise, but I could no longer effect my weight.

There are things I want to learn and do. I want to learn to scuba. There are many places I want to snorkel. I want to fly overseas without having to buy a business class ticket because we are too big to comfortably sit side by side in economy for 10 hours at a stretch. I want many more years with my husband whom I met late in life, but who brings me so much joy. I want to go hiking and take in the view from mountaintops.

I don’t want to be diabetic, have high blood pressure, and be an old, sick person. I want to be healthy and active because that’s how your brain stays sharp. I don’t want my children to have to take care of a mother who is completely losing her marbles, but manages to retain her stubbornness and independence.

And that’s the main thing. I want to be independent and not have to rely on others to take care of me. I need that, and the sleeve gave me a path to all of it.

Tough Day on Liquid Diet Pre-Op VSG

27 Jul



Add ex husband”s wedding reception and 12 hours of travel to get there, to day 10 of liquid pre-op. Surround yourself with cake, cookies, peanuts, M&Ms, fruit pies and pretzels. Watch everyone around you tuck in. Eat nothing. Go home starving.

Ugh. Fortunately we found a soup place near our hotel and ate some veg soup and tomato basil soup that filled us up,  but I just got yet another glimpse of what life after surgery will be. I will be surrounded by tempting food, and I will have to not eat any of that junk unless I want to jeopardize both my weight loss and my health.

No one said it would be easy, right?

7 days of liquid pre-op, and I haven’t killed anyone yet

27 Jul

It’s almost getting to be a routine. Veg soup and Protein at every meal. An SF popsicle to wash down dinner. Yesterday was the first time I didn’t need a nap and was alert, and productive throughout the day. The previous few days, I’d really started to worry about how I was going to work because I couldn’t string two thoughts together and all I wanted was a nap.

It’s funny, I’m not really hungry, but today, I want to BITE into something–or someone, when I’m feeling cranky :) I haven’t been as cranky as I thought I would be–but I want to CHEW something.

I feel grateful that I have this opportunity to do something that seemed impossible, and win at it. It sends me into surgery with a feeling of power and control. And I need that. Being–or feeling–powerless over my weight for all these years really affects my self-image. I don’t feel this helpless about anything else in my life.

Tomorrow, we drive 11 hours to go to my ex-husband’s wedding reception. Then Sunday we do it all over again, except in reverse. I can’t eat anything at the reception. R and I will just have to have our shakes before. He’s in the kitchen, getting the “travel soups” ready.

Anyone who says this is the easy way out has no idea what they’re talking about. I have a feeling i will be saying this with even more vehemence after the surgery when I’m in pain :)

But hey, 7 days down, and I’m still on track. Yay me!

Pre-Op VSG Horrified by my before pictures

23 Jul

fat cat



So took some pics today of myself and my husband so we can start to document the journey. If I wasn’t a tough broad I’d be crying my eyes out.

Oh. My.

I have lost 7 lbs on pre-op which I have NEVER before been able to do in a week. So I’m feeling pretty good about myself, right? Fix my hair and my makeup and I’m all like, wow, I’m looking better! Because in my head, I’m a skinny person I guess.

But in fact, I’m not skinny of course.

We take these pictures with clothes and then just with undies. Can I just say…I look soooo unattractive to myself! I look fat, and out of shape, and blobby. All of which I am, but seeing a picture of me made it a lot more real than looking at myself in the mirror, not sure why. I have a friend who used to say he needed to lose weight and when we told him he looked fine, he always joked, “You only say that because you haven’t seen me naked”. Today, I know exactly what he meant.

And it also looks like I’ve been that woman who wears too-tight bras without even knowing it. My husband took back pictures of me and I was like, I’m surprised my bras just haven’t cut me in half all these years! Maybe if I’d taken more pics of myself it would have pushed me into surgery sooner!

I’m trying not to obsess about it and just remember that THIS is why I am getting the surgery. But really I cannot imagine EVERY posting pics of myself in undies for befores and afters. I hope I get there.

Down 7 lbs on the liquid diet

23 Jul

So I’m past the day 4 hurdle everyone talks about. I had to take a two hour nap yesterday before I could function! My brain was fuzzy and I really couldn’t string two thoughts together properly.

Then I started thinking about all the changes i was making all at once.

1. No caffeine. Aaargh!
2. Carbs below 50 gms a day
3. Less than 1000 calories a day
4. Much more protein than I usually intake
5. Liquids only plus veg soup. Not easy.
6. No straws
7. No fat to speak of
8. No sugar
9. No fruit
10. Constantly having to hydrate (i drink a lot of water anyway but now having to focus on it).

Yeah, it’s okay to have a hard time with that!

On the plus side I’ve lost 7 lbs over the last 12 days that I’ve been easing into this. It makes me feel confident that I will lose weight when I’m sleeved.

it’s all good.

Starting two-weeks of liquids today

20 Jul

Chocolate protein powder



Today, I start two weeks of liquids so that I can keep R. company for his two weeks. I’ve eased into it by replacing one meal with a liquid all last week, which was a week of travel. I’m really happy that I was able to stick to that even with four days on the road, long days and nights, and delayed airplanes, etc. I ate almost no sugar last week, just two oreos (oops) on the delayed flight.

I feel ready. The house is stocked with unjury chicken soup, all kinds of protein shakes, SF jello and popsicles. But most importantly, I’m not as hungry as I was before I started, thanks to easing in slowly. I want to feel in control of food, not the other way around. I’m feeling that right now.

I know the next three days will be the hardest, and I’m prepared for that. I just want to show myself that I can do this too. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve lost 3 lbs by just that meal replacement and reduced carbs.

Let’s do this!

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