Tips for Gastric Band Success
We know that successful weight loss after gastric band surgery requires commitment and effort. Changes to your diet, exercise habits and other behaviors take time to adjust to. There are a number of lifestyle tips that can be useful as you transition to a healthier way of life.
The following tips can make some of the necessary lifestyle changes easier and make you mindful of things to watch out for.
Tips for a Healthier Diet
Eat your meals at a table. This sounds simple, but dedicating time to eating meals and avoiding eating on-the-go can be difficult, especially if you already have a packed schedule. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes to actually sit at the table and eat your meals—if it helps to actually write your meal times into your agenda, do it! After gastric band surgery, it’s important to eat slowly to avoid overeating, and sitting down to eat can also keep you from mindless snacking.
Always hydrate. Consuming 48 to 64 ounces of fluids per day will help prevent dehydration, constipation and kidney stones. If you find that you’re having trouble meeting your daily goal, try using containers to your advantage. Sixty-four ounces seems less daunting when you think about it in terms of three 20-ounce bottles. It also helps to freeze water bottles. That way, the water will stay cold throughout the day as you sip.
Get comfortable with serving sizes. When following a restricted diet, it’s very important to know exactly how much food you’re consuming. Start by using measuring cups, or buy an inexpensive digital food scale. After you’ve measured for a while, you’ll be able to recognize the proper portion sizes without having to measure. Once you get to that point, check yourself every now and then just to be sure.
Expect to get hungry. Your appetite should increase about two weeks after your surgery. Most people also notice around this time that water is easier to consume.
Tips for Physical Activity
It’s important to work some exercise into every day as soon as possible after weight loss surgery. Walking is a great way to get physical activity into your day—after all, it’s free and easy to incorporate into your daily life. Next time you go to the mall or grocery store, why not choose a parking spot at the end of the lot and walk to the door? About three to four weeks after your surgery, you can add muscle-toning exercises that will help you build lean muscle mass as you lose weight.
Here are several questions to ask yourself as you are becoming more active:
- How many times a week are you exercising? You should aim for at least 30 minutes of activity three times a week.
- Could you manage to exercise more times a week than you currently are? Try fitting in an extra day of physical activity.
- Is 30 minutes all the activity you can manage? Try pushing yourself an extra 15 minutes or more. You may find it possible to exercise for up to an hour before becoming fatigued.
Is your exercise above and beyond? Increasing incidental activity is great, but your 30 minutes of exercise should be separate.
Tips for Mental Readiness
Attitude and mental health can be huge when it comes to making changes in your way of life after gastric band surgery. Following weight loss surgery, you will need to change the way you are thinking about your diet and exercise goals, not just the habits themselves.
Focus on building healthy behaviors by changing your perception of existing habits. This is a process often referred to as creating your “new normal.”
Healthy behaviors you will want to incorporate into your diet include:
- Recognize the early signs of fullness and stop eating as soon as you are no longer hungry.
- Carry a water bottle and make the habit of drinking water often between meals.
- Stay away from food in between meals.
- Stand more often than you sit.
- Be honest with yourself about your exercise and dietary habits. Do not exaggerate.
- Compliment yourself on your progress and practice accepting the compliments of others.
- Focus more on healthy living and less on dieting to lose weight.
Finally, remember to reach out as needed. Successful weight loss will usually mean making changes to your lifestyle. You may find some of these changes challenging. It’s perfectly okay to ask for help when you need it. Also, always listen to your body and notify your doctor of anything unusual, including vomiting, fever and pain while eating.