How To Fast At Ramadan After Bariatric SurgeryMay 17, 2017
You've made it through bariatric surgery and you're plugging along. Now that you're a bariatric post-op patient, and you come upon Ramadan, it's understandable that you may not be sure what to do.
Do you Fast? Do you NOT Fast?
What's the next step?
How to get in Water? Food? Exercise?
First, and foremost, it is important to discuss your intentions to fast with your surgeon, bariatrician, or primary care physician to ensure you are ready to fast after weight loss surgery. Most individuals don't fast their first or second year following their bariatric surgery because these first two years are critical for the body to reach it's new point of homeostasis and for continued weight loss.
Additionally, ensuring that you are hydrated will probably your physician's biggest concern due to the day time water restriction. However, this is why your follow-up with a physician is important because each individual's medical needs will vary and be taken into account in this consultation.
Following surgery, your body is jolted into a state of malnutrition and the body is attempting to readjust to a much lower caloric intake. Additionally, it's important that you meet the requirements for protein, water intake, and supplements to ensure you're getting what your body needs.
Once it's determined you can fast, then it is important that you take the necessary steps to ensure you are fasting best for your bariatric surgery pouch.
Ramadan After Bariatric Surgery - Water Intake
It is recommended that each bariatric post-op patient drinks at least 64 ounces of water per day. For the post-op bariatric patient who is fasting during Ramadan, this can be challenging. Additionally, when Ramadan falls during the summer months, this can be especially challenging for maintaining hydration.
You may have been used to guzzling down the water before WLS surgery, however, after surgery, it's a different ballgame altogether.
It is important that you wait for 30-minutes before and after your evening meal (Iftar) to start drinking your water to ensure you are not flushing food through your pouch. Similarly, you'll want to give your body time again before and after Suhur (morning before the sunrise meal) to drink water as well.
Realizing this process will take approximately 8 hours to get in the necessary water intake, some individuals will set an alarm every 1-2 hours to wake up just to drink some water and then go back to sleep.
Ramadan After Bariatric Surgery - Nutrition, Protein, Supplements
Just as with drinking water, the days of shoveling in the food and eating tons at Suhur and Iftar are over. This is the time to be wise with your food selections to stay on track long after Ramadan ends.
You've chosen to have bariatric surgery bariatric for a reason, and most likely it is that you've wanted to get healthier, lose weight, and feel better in your body. Therefore, staying on track during Ramadan for your health is as much a spiritual experience as a physical one.
Many of my clients have reported having protein filled meals for Suhur and Iftar that they enjoy without feeling deprived. Recipes that include high protein foods like chicken, turkey, lamb and beef or vegetable proteins such as beans/legumes/lentils and hummus in the evening while having eggs and halal sausage in the morning keep their protein high during Ramadan. One of my clients raved about making a protein hummus and dipping it with carrots made her feel that she wasn't missing out and was able to eat the necessary protein that her post-op body needed.
It's also important to plan what you'll be eating and if you are attending Iftar at someone else's house, you may want to call and let them know you'll be looking for the protein and will be steering clear of the rice and heavy carbohydrate dishes due to your lifestyle change. You cannot expect people to know what you need. You'll need to be open and very clear about any dietary restrictions, or bring your own dish (like a potluck) to ensure there is something there for you to eat.
Be sure to take your bariatric supplements at both Iftar and Suhur so that you don't forget to take them. Some of my clients got in the habit of taking their supplements during the day and taking them at Iftar and Suhur during Ramadan helped them maintain consistency so they did not forget to take them.
Ramadan After Bariatric Surgery - Fitness
Ramadan can be a time of great spiritual renewal, however, it's also very exhausting. Many of my clients share with me how tired they are and while this gives them a good amount of time in spiritual reflection, it can also be a time where they are very sedentary.
Making sure that you stay active (and hydrated) during Ramadan is very important. Scheduling 15-20 minutes twice a day - before or after Suhur and Iftar for some walking or indoor exercise will help you maintain your weight loss progress during Ramadan.
Here are a few very SIMPLE recommendations:
- You can put on YouTube and do a walking workout or yoga workout that will help you stay active and burn calories.
- Use a step tracker and walk around your house.
- Utilize resistance bands or a balance ball for a strength training routine
Without a plan, it's easy to fall off the wagon with your routine, and so implementing a plan for your continued exercise progress is essential.
Observation of Ramadan After Bariatric Surgery
The month of Ramadan is a very special month for spiritual renewal and reflection. I know many of my clients have felt bad they could not fast, however, for your health it is essential that you follow your physician's recommendations to ensure continuity of care. Use this time to focus on yourself because there's always next year. There will be time for fasting when your body is up to it.
Also, if your doctor recommends that you DO NOT fast, you may want to discuss this further and your Imam as this is a very personal medical issue that could impair your ability to fast long-term and should be taken very seriously.
However, if you have been given the green light, and you are planning to fast, please be sure to utilize the recommendations that are best suited for your post-op pouch for your health and wellness. You may be eager to be back to your old self and get into your old Ramadan routine, however, you won't be able to eat or drink like your friends and family anymore, and that's okay.
You have a different mission now and that is to take care of your body as a post-op bariatric patient. Ramadan may also be a time where you reflect on your own growth as a bariatric patient and look inward to how you are progressing and what you'd like to gain from your personal journey that may help you grow spiritually as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHORKristin Lloyd, MS, LPC/LMHC, PhD-Candidate is a licensed psychotherapist and certified transformational mindset mentor guiding individuals to embrace healthy habits, better relationships, and fuller richer lives after WLS. As a WLS surgery patient herself, Kristin understands the challenges experienced by the WLS/bariatric patient. She is the founder of Bariatric Mindset which aims to help individuals live a fuller richer life after WLS.