How To Prevent Cheating On Liquid Diet Before Gastric Bypass

How To Prevent Cheating On Liquid Diet Before Gastric Bypass

If you are pursuing gastric bypass surgery, it is important to know that you will need to adhere to a strict liquid diet before surgery. Following a liquid diet can be challenging if you are not ready to fully commit to the dietary changes required after surgery. Indeed, cheating on liquid diet before gastric bypass can be highly tempting. Here are some tips to help you avoid gastric bypass pre-op diet cheating.

What Is A Liquid Diet Before Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Before you can have gastric bypass surgery, your bariatric surgeon will require that you follow a liquid pre-op diet. Typically, you will need to begin this diet 2-4 weeks before your surgery date. The length of time, you must follow a liquid diet is based on your surgeon’s recommendations. Usually, patients with a body mass index (BMI) >50 will be on a liquid diet 4 weeks before surgery, whereas patients with a BMI <50 will be on it for 2 weeks.

A pre-op liquid diet aims to give you high-protein, low-carbohydrate “meals” to help you prepare for surgery. For example, high-protein lean shakes, broths, and some “full liquids” such as hot cereals and yogurt may be included in your diet. Indeed, many bariatric protein shakes are available to purchase at the store. Your bariatric surgeon and dietician will have specific recommendations for you. Furthermore, if you have diabetes or kidney disease, you will likely have different liquid recommendations during the pre-op phase.

Person holding a cup of liquid food.
Following a pre-op liquid diet is essential if you are having gastric bypass surgery.

Why A Liquid Diet Before Gastric Bypass Is Essential

Following a liquid diet is essential if you want to undergo gastric bypass surgery and meet your weight loss goals. The reasons why you must follow a liquid pre-op diet include:

  • Reducing body fat - It is crucial to lose as much fat in your abdomen and liver as possible before surgery. Decreasing fat can improve your overall safety in surgery.
  • Shrinking the liver - When you are overweight, your liver increases in size. By following a liquid diet, you can decrease the size of your liver so that your surgeon has more space and visibility to work with when performing your surgery.
  • Making gastric bypass surgery safer - A pre-op liquid diet 2-4 weeks before surgery can prevent major complications from surgery, including leakage, infection, readmission to the hospital, and re-doing surgery.
  • Minimizing the “last supper syndrome” and preventing weight gain - Many people will binge eat on all of their favorite foods before surgery as they know they will have to cut these foods out after surgery. It is important to know that you will still be able to have good food after having gastric bypass surgery. However, what and how you eat will need to change if you want the surgery to be successful. Interestingly, your food preferences will likely change after surgery when you start seeing the pounds drop on the scale. Your tastebuds will be less excited about sweet, fatty, processed foods, and you will likely be more interested in healthy foods. Similarly, your mindset will change. You will begin to focus more on food quality rather than food quantity.
  • Meet the 5% weight loss goal - Your bariatric surgeon may set a weight loss goal for you to meet before operating. The purpose of losing weight before surgery is to ensure you are ready to make the necessary lifestyle changes to succeed, as well as to increase your safety and enhance the outcome from surgery.
  • Establish healthy habits before surgery - The pre-op liquid diet is quite similar to the post-op diet you will follow in the days after surgery. Thus, having success in following a strict diet before surgery will increase your chances and confidence in following your post-op diet. Furthermore, choosing to undergo gastric bypass means that you also are choosing to make a lifelong diet and lifestyle changes.
Vegetables and fruit on a table with a smoothie in a glass.
Establishing healthy habits before surgery improves your chances of meeting your weight loss goals.

What Happens When You Have Been Cheating On Your Liquid Diet Before Gastric Bypass?

If you have been cheating on liquid diet before gastric bypass, you will need to let your surgeon know. Cheating on your pre-op diet can increase your risk for complications during and after surgery. Similarly, cheating also indicates that you may not be mentally and emotionally prepared for the changes that you must make following gastric bypass surgery. Your surgeon may postpone your surgery if you have cheated on your liquid diet. However, the decision to delay surgery is based on information about how you have cheated. Your surgeon will likely ask:

  • What have you been eating that is not on the liquid diet?
  • How long ago did you eat the food(s) that is not on the diet?
  • How much did you eat that is not on the diet?
  • In general, what have you been eating while you have been on the pre-op liquid diet?

To stay accountable, as well as to make your diet clear to your surgeon, it is a good idea to keep a food log or journal before surgery.

Sign that says D.I.E.T. Did I eat that?
Keeping a food log or journal is a great way to track how much you eat, as well as what you eat.

Following Your Pre-Op Diet Can Be Challenging

The decision to have bariatric surgery is life-changing. It means that you are willing to change behaviors that have been detrimental to you in the past. It also means you are proactive in achieving optimal health and wellness. However, that does not mean it is easy. These changes can be so challenging. And trying to avoid gastric bypass pre-op diet cheating is hard. Being proactive with behavioral and environmental modifications is one of the best things you can do to overcome gastric bypass pre-op liquid diet cheating.

Strategies To Minimize The Risk Of Gastric Bypass Pre Op Diet Cheating

Prep Your Home

Clean out your pantry - Do this with family or friends to help hold you accountable and make it more fun. Clear your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator of unhealthy foods. Consider donating items or giving them away, so you do not feel guilty about wasting these items. If you live with other people who eat foods that you should not consume, designate a space that is out of sight for these foods.

Get smaller plates - You will be eating much smaller portions before and after surgery. Therefore, it is a good idea to use smaller plates so that your plates look more full at mealtimes.

Purchase some useful cooking tools - You may need to get some items that help you make foods on your pre-op and post-op diets. For example, a blender, ice cube trays to store pureed foods, a crockpot, and measuring cups and spoons are useful kitchen tools. Also, gather some great recipes to help you think about meals that you would like to prepare.

Get familiar with supplements - Bariatric surgery patients must take supplements to replace essential vitamins and nutrients they do not get from food following surgery. Talk with your dietician and surgeon in advance about what supplements you will need to take.

Picture of a woman squeezing a lemon into a container.
Make sure you have cooking tools that help you make healthy meals in your own kitchen.

In general, when it comes to preparing your home for your pre- and post-surgery lifestyle, aim to make your home your safe haven. Remove anything that may trigger you to make poor dietary choices.

Change Your Shopping And Social Habits

Grocery Shopping - Always take a list with you so that you plan ahead and buy only what you need, not what looks appealing while your shopping. Similarly, do not grocery shop on an empty stomach. Finally, try to stick to the outer perimeter at the grocery store. The healthiest foods tend to be placed on the outside walls while the processed, high-sugar foods and drinks are down the aisles.

Socializing - In most cultures, socialization occurs over food or libations. Talk with your family and friends about your weight loss goals and that you will need to change your socializing atmosphere to help you achieve your goals. That is to say, if your regular meet-up with friends is at a restaurant, see if they would be willing to meet up at your house, or even for an outdoor activity.

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial to your overall health. In our do-it-all, be-it-all, busy culture, sleep has ranked lower and lower on most of our priority lists. However, studies have found that getting enough sleep has been found to help with weight control. Other benefits of sleep include:

  • Reducing risk for chronic illness
  • Improving mental clarity and focus
  • Improving immunity
  • Controlling blood sugar and metabolism
  • Decreasing pain
Woman asleep laying in a field of flowers.
Quantity and quality matter with sleep. Make sure to get enough rest each night to improve your overall health.

Exercise

Exercise is just as important as diet for long term success after gastric bypass surgery. There are numerous benefits of daily physical activity, aside from weight loss. If you are thinking about cheating on liquid diet before gastric bypass, force yourself to walk outside for at least ten minutes. The fresh air and oxygen-rich blood delivered to your tissues and organs may help you forget about the temptation to cheat.

Reduce Stress

Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Many times, we use food and high-calorie drinks as our crutch when times are tough. Take some time to figure out what causes stress for you and think about ways to reduce or eliminate those sources of stress.

Find support

A strong network of supportive individuals in your life can be what makes or breaks your success with achieving your health goals. Your support system may consist of family and friends, your bariatric surgeon, dietician, psychologist, and bariatric support group. If you feel like you may cheat or have been cheating on liquid diet before gastric bypass, reach out to your support network for encouragement and outside strength. Finally, make sure to attend all of your appointments with your health care team. You can do it!

Julia Rae Walker, RN, BSN, BA

Author

Julia is an experienced critical care nurse with a background in pediatric and adult patient populations. Her passion is helping patients maximize their quality of life.

Gintas Antanavicius, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Medical Reviewer

Dr. G is a co-founder of BariBuilder. A US-based expert surgeon with over 10 years of bariatric experience, he regularly publishes research in medical journals like SOARD, Obesity Surgery, etc.