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LapBand Surgery. The Rules of the Road...Part 1

When you begin the decision making process to have Weight Loss Surgery (WLS), and specifically LapBand Surgery, it is vital that you fully understand the changes you must make in your lifestyle. WLS is never the magic pill. It is something that you must work at to be successful.

There are several rules and circumstances that a "Bandster" must follow and understand to see success and have a high quality banded life.

Drinking Before and After Meals

By far this is one of the most important things to learn and is vital to your weight loss success. It is also one of the most challenging.

You should stop drinking all liquids at least 30 minutes before your meal. This allows all that is in your pouch to drain through to the lower stomach. Therefore your pouch is empty when you eat allowing the food to fill you up properly.

During your meal you want to forgo all beverages. This is one of the hardest habits to break. Drinking during your meal simply flushes the food through your band and the band is unable to function properly.

For most of us we will have 2, 3 or even 4 glasses of a beverage with our meals. Servers in restaurants, trained to keep us happy, will keep our beverage full throughout our meal. As bandsters we need to stand up for ourselves and ignore the strange looks we get when we say, "Nothing to drink for me."

You must also not drink for an hour after a meal. The main reason is the same as drinking during your meal. Liquids wash the food through the band defeating its purpose. Another reason not to drink after a meal is if your pouch is full the beverage might not have anywhere to go?except backwards resulting in a spit-up. Suffice it to say that food and liquids making a return visit is not satisfying.

Start practicing this new behavior today. Start at your next meal. This will get you ahead of the game and help your success instrumentally.

Smaller Bites. More Chewing. Slower Eating.

If you watch most Americans eat, including myself pre-band, we don't chew our food, heck we barely taste it. In my case a big bite, 4 cursory chews, and down it went.

The next thing you need to start getting your mind around and practicing is what a Bandster Bite is. At your next meal look at your bite size. Look at the amount of food on your fork and remember it. Now, cut that bite in half. This is your bite size after surgery. Now, cut that bite in half. This is the size of your bite after your first fill or adjustment. Each fill your bite size will get smaller until each bit is as if for a toddler. The reason for this is so the bite can be chewed completely to a liquid before swallowing.

This brings us to the next point, chewing. It is very important that your food is completely chewed. Before you swallow you want to make sure the food is a liquid. As you progress through this journey the opening from your pouch to the lower stomach will be getting smaller. Therefore you need to chew more thoroughly. If a piece of food is too big to go through the stoma, or opening, it will get "stuck". Let us just say it is painful and you do not want this.

Finally with the smaller bites and the more thorough chewing comes the inevitable slower eating. Just slow down. If you eat too fast the bites get too big, you don't chew properly and we are back to the food being stuck. Over a year in and I still find myself falling into this trap. We get excited, chatting with friends and just forget.

The quicker you create these habits the happier you will be in your banded life.

A Bandster's Eating Order

As a bandster you have a specific order in which to eat your food. It is important that we get enough protein in our diet to keep our bodies moving properly. Therefore, you will need to make sure you are eating your protein first.

As WLS patients we need 40-60 grams of protein every day. We can get this in a variety of ways. Protein shakes, cheese, fish, beef, chicken, soy. The challenge comes when we can only tolerate certain foods. Also, it is important that we get as much "hard" protein (chicken, beef, and fish) as possible. We shouldn't get it all from protein shakes and cheese.

When we sit down to a meal we need to eat our protein food first, vegetables second, and carbohydrates/starches last if there is room. Proteins last longer in the pouch and take longer to process through the band allowing us to feel full sooner and maintaining our satiety longer. As it turns out hard proteins are sometimes the most difficult to work with for a Bandster.

The hard proteins need to be more moist, more tender and chewed more completely than any other type of food. Generally, but not exclusively, the proteins are the foods that get stuck the most and cause spit ups. The reason for this is simple. The bite isn't small enough and/or we haven't chewed it to a liquid before swallowing.

For the record?Beef is generally the most difficult for bandsters. Beef is one of the most difficult foods for humans to digest. It can take several days for a piece of steak to actually work it's way through the digestive track. And that's on an unbanded person! So, if you eat a piece of steak and you don't chew it up completely, which is difficult as steak is so fibrous, it can sit in your pouch for an extended about of time and your stomach acids are not there to help break it down. Eventually, this piece of food can fall over your stoma and get stuck. This piece of steak that you ate two days ago can still be in your pouch and you can still spit it up at this late date.

Remember each and every person is different so you will have to test your own waters. I'm not here to tell you what to eat or what not to eat. Some Bandsters have no trouble with beef whatsoever; others won't go near it. Trust me you will figure out what you can tolerate and what you can't. Trust me too when I say these things change. One day ground beef is fine and the next you realize it isn't any longer. You must be willing and able to adapt to sudden changes.

Robin McCoy was banded on February 3,2004. She has reached her weight loss goal of 110 pounds. Robin is Vice-President and Senior Writer for Lapband Lifestyle, a resource and support group for LapBand patients.



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