Mindful Eating Programs and Training

Mindful Eating Programs and Training

How Do I Eat Enough Protein after WLS?

Michelle May

Woman Cooking On A BarbequeEating enough food may not be as easy as it sounds after WLS! Eating enough protein after WLS may be particularly challenging.

For the first few months after WLS (weight loss surgery), the capacity of your stomach is much smaller (only about the size of an egg after bypass, and about the size of a banana after the sleeve), making it difficult to eat more than a few bites at a time. It may take 3 to 6 months—or more—before you’re able to eat a palm-full amount of protein at one sitting comfortably.

In addition, after surgery, particularly gastric bypass and the sleeve, you may not feel very hungry, further affecting your ability to consume enough protein. You’ll probably find it easier to eat six mini-meals a day rather than three larger meals. Your surgical team may also recommend protein shakes right after surgery to help you consume enough protein after WLS.

Some people find that certain protein-containing foods are difficult to tolerate. For example, fatty meats can delay the emptying of your stomach and cause a heavy feeling and/or loose stools. Dry, tough, or grilled meat, pork, or chicken may increase the chance of food getting stuck.

Here are some ideas you could try to help prevent these symptoms:

  • Experiment with preparation methods that keep lean meats moist and tender, such as braising or cooking them in a slow-cooker.
  • Have a small bowl of hot low-fat or no-fat (if fat bothers you) sauce or gravy at the dinner table to add as needed to keep it from getting cold and dry as you’re eating.
  • Eat slowly and mindfully, chewing each bite carefully and thoroughly.

If you are still having difficult consuming enough protein, a protein supplement can be used in place of a meal or two when necessary. (Keep in mind that after gastric bypass, some people will develop dumping syndrome if they drink a highly concentrated protein shake. If that’s the case, thirty grams of protein at a time is generally the upper limit that won’t cause problems.)

However, most people find that chewing their food leads to more satisfaction than drinking it. In addition, whole foods are recommended for nutritional balance and variety.

(This excerpt is from Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery Companion Workbook and Journal.)

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