Get the most out of your bariatric nutrition visits
By Lori Skube, Rd, MPH, CDE, Sterling Surgicare Bariatric Dietitian
All patients having weight loss surgery have special nutritional needs. It’s important to come to your weight loss surgery nutrition appointments prepared so you can learn about the lifestyle changes you need to make before you have weight loss surgery.
It is equally important to come to your nutrition appointments AFTER your weight loss surgery. As a post-op, you and your nutritionist will discuss food choices and nutrition requirements your body needs after bariatric surgery. As you progress through your weight loss surgery journey, you’ll have questions along the way that we can discuss at your appointment too. Reviewing your nutritional intake along with your vitamin and mineral supplements are key to avoid nutritional deficiencies and maximize your weight loss.
Here are four things you should do to get the most out of your pre-op and post-op nutrition visits:
- Get your blood work done. Aim to have your blood work done about one week prior to your visit. We check certain vitamin and mineral levels that are most likely deficient in post-op weight loss surgery patients. If you get blood work done by your primary doctor or another specialist, it may not include the specific vitamin levels we need as a bariatric center to evaluate your complete nutritional status. Please use the prescription provided by your surgeon because it is very specific to bariatric patients.
- List your supplements and their dosages. Write down all of the vitamin and mineral supplements you take and the dosage. Alternatively, bring the bottles of the vitamins and minerals you take. Not all multivitamins have the same amounts of vitamins and minerals. Some lack iron or do not have the right amounts of other key nutrients you need. Knowing what you take as far as supplements makes it easier for us to help you stay healthy. Also, avoid any type of “gummy” vitamins — they typically are not nutritionally adequate for people who have had weight loss surgery. If you have a question about which vitamin or mineral supplements to buy, call your surgeon or nutritionist’s office for advice.
- Note your protein intake. If you use protein bars or drinks, write down the brand and the amount of protein. Getting enough protein each day is vitally important and using supplements helps many people reach their protein goals. There are many protein supplements on the market — not all are the best choices for people who have had weight loss surgery. Some are too high in calories, and many do not have adequate protein or are made from a poor quality protein. Having this information at your nutrition visit allows us to better assess whether you’re reaching your ideal protein needs.
- Keep a food journal. Keeping track of what you eat and drink helps to monitor your diet and keep you focused. It’s also useful to share these journals at your nutrition visits so your nutritionist can more accurately see what you’re eating. Food journals are especially important if you’re having difficulty tolerating foods or having poor weight loss or weight regain. ObesityHelp’s Health Tracker can be used to keep track of your food and activity, plus share it online with your nutritionist if you choose to. Health Tracker can also be accessed from your mobile devices. Using smart phone apps like My Fitness Pal, Fit Day, Spark People or Lose It are also tools to use for keeping track of your diet.
Your nutrition, health and success are very important to your bariatric surgeon and nutritionist. You’ve invested in your health by having weight loss surgery and your nutritionist appointments will maximize that investment now and as a long-term post-op of many years. Coming prepared to your nutrition visits allows us to best help you along your weight loss journey!
About the Author
Lori Skurbe, RD, MPH, CDE, is on staff at Sterling Surgicare in Holmdel, NJ, a bariatric and laparoscopic/general surgery practice headed by Ayotunde Adeyeri, MD. She has more than 20 years of experience in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from Penn State University and a Master of Public Health from Rutgers University/UMDNJ.