You’ve made the decision to have vertical sleeve gastrectomy, and you’re so excited to get started. The first couple of days on the pre-op diet are going well; it’s definitely a change, but it’s worth it to prepare you for VSG. But then one day you hit a brick wall of ugh-this-is-hard. Some lucky patients sail right through the pre-op stage, but many have periods where they struggle. Here are some tips if you fall into the latter category.
Keep Your Eyes on the Big Picture
As I’ve mentioned many times, I prescribe the pre-op diet not to condition your mind and body to a new way of eating following gastric sleeve in Mexico, but to make the surgery itself as safe and effective as possible. The pre-op diet shrinks the liver (most patients have a condition called fatty liver, which can make the VSG procedure more difficult) and creates more optimal surgical conditions.
For many patients, the pre-op is the hardest part. The procedure itself is usually a breeze, and most don’t struggle with hunger pangs at all in the following weeks when the body is healing itself. Kayla can attest to that. “It’s easier after surgery,” she says. “You’re not hungry, and, if you are, it doesn’t take much to fill you up. I’m eight weeks out and here to tell you it was so worth it!” So count down the days until surgery on a calendar, knowing that when that date circled in red gets here, you’ll actually be entering an easier phase.
Focus on Yourself
If you’re the only one in your family prepared to make healthy changes, it can feel especially difficult to stick to the pre-op gastric sleeve diet. Some family members don’t realize they’re making it harder on you, while others may seem to be trying to tempt you deliberately. Either way, now is the perfect time to be a little selfish. Some ideas:
• If possible, stop cooking food for them that you can’t eat (unless you have small children and no one else to do it). They’ll do just fine with takeout or simple meals they prepare themselves, whereas you can set yourself back if you give into the understandable temptation.
• Do something else while they’re eating tempting food. Stephanie suggests going for a walk while your family is raving about the delicious mac ‘n cheese they’re enjoying for dinner. Or tuck yourself into a comfy corner of the house with headphones and your favorite TV show or movie.
• Call a sympathetic friend (or post on our Facebook page!) and vent away about the difficulties you’re having in the moment. Sometimes just feeling heard and being affirmed in your struggle makes it a lot easier.
Experiment with Food You Can Truly Enjoy
The pre-op caloric restrictions are pretty tight, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t yummy options for you to explore. We give you a fully detailed list of foods and even some recipes, but the Endobariatric Facebook page is a treasure trove of ideas when you’re feeling bored with the same old meals—or just not satisfied. Tami recommends the Endobariatric cult-favorite poblano soup. “Gave me the full feeling I was looking for and the taste is out of this world…the poblano soup will be on my menu forever now!” For Alysia, green beans were the answer. “Get a large can of Italian cut green beans and boil them with five beef bouillon cubes,” she advises. “They are AMAZING.”
It can be tough to remember when your stomach is growling and your loved ones are moaning in delight over carbs and sweets, but you’ll be feeling better than you ever thought possible very soon. The pre-op diet is a tiny blip in your VSG journey. I encourage you to believe the thousands of Endobariatric patients who say that it’s more than worth the temporary struggle!
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.