Posted by Richard Coleman, Partner
Five post-bariatric surgery suggestions for eating well during lockdown
Dr Mabel Blades, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist who has experience working with bariatric surgery patients, gives her tips for post-surgery diet in lockdown.
The first, and most important, thing to mention is that there is no diet that prevents coronavirus – so warns The British Dietetic Association! (COVID-19 being the condition caused by the coronavirus). However, you can aim to maximise things like health and enjoyment with what you eat.
Also, if you are following a special diet, or are on medications, do please check with your dietitian or health professional should you have any queries.
If you have had bariatric surgery you should have had advice and support from a dietitian and be well on the way to a normal programme of eating. A schedule for eating should also have been provided for you. It is important to remember that you cannot take the large portions of food that you may have consumed in the past. Usually follow-up is provided for some time after the procedure and contact details provided if you want advice.
If you are suffering from even mild symptoms of coronavirus you are likely to not feel like eating; you may have a sore throat or cough and generally feel unwell, not to mention fatigued. But whether you are coping at home with symptoms of coronavirus or not, here are some tips to make life more comfortable:
Take enough fluid, a minimum of two litres per day for most adults (unless you have been told to restrict fluid for a medical reason).
Lack of fluid can make you feel irritable and fatigued, which is not what you want to feel at present. Water is ideal for hydration but most other beverages also contribute, except for strong coffees and alcoholic drinks.
It is better to sip fluids through the day and often a sports bottle is ideal for this. You can even get motivational bottles with marks on them.
Fizzy drinks tend to fill you up and so does drinking a large amount at once, especially with meals. Alcohol does tend to upset people after bariatric surgery so do avoid this.
If it is difficult for you to keep making drinks, make a flask up and keep that near you. Drinks can be hot or cold whichever you prefer. Sometimes trying different flavours tempts drinking so some ideas include:
- fruit juices, squash or fruit teas all made up with warm water can be soothing;
- warm milky drinks like Cappuccinos you make up with hot water, hot chocolate, malted milks and milk shakes may appeal and are easy to drink. You can also obviously let any of these cool and add ice for variation;
- ordinary milk can be enriched by adding 4 tablespoons of milk powder to 600ml of milk. You can buy milk powder at supermarkets. This milk can be used in making all drinks like tea or coffee as well as on cereals. It adds extra protein which is important;
- it is useful to have one of the vitamin enriched milkshake powders in the cupboard to make up a milkshake once or twice a day if you do not feel like eating;
- savoury hot drinks like ones made up with meat or yeast extract can add variety.
Meals can be difficult following bariatric surgery, for obvious reasons, so some suggestions include:
- soups (you can add milk powder to these) can be helpful to eat and are easy to make and items like lentils add extra protein. Depending at what stage of diet you are on will determine how chunky soups can be. Remember lumps of meat can cause blockages for some people;
- eggs scrambled, omelettes, in pancakes, as well as boiled are easy to eat;
- casseroles and stews can be made in slow cookers or pans and it is useful to make extra portions to freeze;
- fish dishes are often easy to eat especially in white sauce;
- cauliflower or macaroni cheese.
Puddings and sweet snacks
Sweet snacks are also possible, for example:
- whippy puddings made up with fortified milk;
- jelly of all types which you can set fruit in or make up with milk and serve with evaporated milk, ice cream, fruit or yoghurt;
- stewed fruit and custard.
No matter what you are eating, make sure you chew things well before swallowing. It is important to keep your dental health good with oral care plus regular check-ups with the dentist.
Vitamins and minerals
If you have had bariatric surgery it is important to take a multivitamin and mineral preparation and soluble, liquid or chewable forms are preferable.
Make sure you book for regular vitamin B12 injections at your surgery or health centre. Due to the present situation a number of these are closed for injections, however the pernicious anaemia society has helpful advice about what to do as regards self -administration of injections and other substances like lozenges which contain vitamin B12. Do check with your health professional first, though.
Post-bariatric surgery can be a difficult time even without a global pandemic, so make sure to look after yourself and manage your diet carefully. So whether you’re at home with coping symptoms of coronavirus or not, I hope these tips help you to manage your diet and stay healthy during lockdown.
Dr Mabel Blades is a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist with a specialism in diet and diabetes.
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