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Nutrition for Bariatric Patients

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Joining us is Jennifer Traub, RD, CNSB at Hurley Bariatric Center.  Jennifer will be discussing the importance of diet and nutrition for bariatric patients.


0:00 Ilene Cantor

This Think Healthy, Think Hurley interview was brought to you by Hurley Medical Center, the region's premiere public teaching hospital in Flint, Michigan. This Blog Talk Radio is another way Hurley is educating the greater Genesee County Community about health and wellness. For more than a century, Hurley has been providing the most comprehensive clinical and compassionate care for patients and their families. I'm your host Ilene Cantor and today's topic is How Important Diet and Nutrition Are for Hurley Bariatric patients. Joining us now is Jennifer Traub, a Registered Dietitian at Hurley Bariatric Center, the first facility in Genesee County to offer bariatric surgery. Thank you for joining us today.

0:38 Jennifer Traub

Thank you.

0:39 Ilene Cantor

First question Jennifer, Hurley surgeons have completed more than 4,000 surgeries. How important is following the right diet for success in these patients?

0:48 Jennifer Traub

Well, following the diet recommendations and guidelines, they're critical for weight loss success, but they're also very important to help prevent complications after surgery.

0:58 Ilene Cantor

And what are some of the dos and don'ts that you like to tell patients?

1:02 Jennifer Traub

For example, do you get your protein in daily? Do you take your vitamins and minerals as recommended? Don't drink carbonated beverages. Don't drink beverages with your meal, but rather wait 30 to 60 minutes before and after drinking to drink your fluids.

1:20 Ilene Cantor

What are some of the other things that you like to tell patients before surgery and are some of the dietary request different depending on the type of surgery you have?

1:33 Jennifer Traub

Yeah. The dietary guidelines do vary based on the procedure someone has. For example, if someone has a gastric bypass procedure or a sleeve gastrectomy. They generally will be eating smaller portions after surgery than someone who has had a lap band placed.

1:53 Ilene Cantor

Now, you mentioned earlier the importance of vitamins. Are certain types of vitamins that are often important to be integrated into a bariatric diet?

2:03 Jennifer Traub

Absolutely. Depending on the procedure that is done, patients might not absorb all the vitamins and minerals from the food that they eat or they won't be able to eat the quantity of food that they need to eat each day to meet 100% of their nutritional needs. So initially, I will recommend patients to start taking multivitamins, calcium and vitamin D before surgery, and then we monitor their lab work on a regular basis after surgery and make additional recommendations as needed.

2:33 Ilene Cantor

What would you say the biggest adjustment is? Would it be the types of foods that they're implementing into their diet or the portion? Can you give me maybe perhaps an idea of what a common dinner meal would include and how big a portion like the size of your fist that type of thing?

2:51 Jennifer Traub

Well again, the portion size is going to depend quite widely depending on the surgery that the person has had, and depending upon how far out they are from surgery. Someone who is, let's say, if six weeks out from surgery, he is going to be able to eat substantially less than someone who might be three months or six months out from surgery. In terms of what the meal might look like, I always stress that a meal starts with protein. Protein is vitally important after having a bariatric procedure, not just to help someone heal, but also to help protect their lean muscle mass. So, starting the meal with protein is a good way to ensure that the person isn't getting filled up on other sorts of foods, but rather they're first making sure that they're getting in that protein that they need so much of. So, starting the meal with protein, things that are low in fat like chicken, turkey, fish, maybe some dried beans like black beans or lentils or black-eyed peas, or even low-fat dairy products, so they are all good protein sources, and then making sure that they're adding some non-starchy vegetables to that meal. Something like salad, broccoli, carrots, green beans and then finishing the meal off with some whole grains. So the starches that they're having have more nutrition, added protein and are a little more easily digested after having a bariatric procedure.

4:21 Ilene Cantor

What's the biggest misconception you would say about having surgery as far as the food is concerned?

4:28 Jennifer Traub

I would say that the biggest misconception is probably that people think of surgery in and out of itself is going to take care of their struggle with weight, that maybe the diet isn't quite as important as it is. But it does play, like I mentioned earlier very, very vital role.

4:49 Ilene Cantor

What kind of advice do you give patients right up going into the surgery as they're being wheeled in? Because I'm sure you get questions last minute as well.

4:58 Jennifer Traub

Yeah. I have patients sometimes asked me to remind them what exactly will they be able to eat or drink when they wake up from surgery or even just in the coming days after. They are provided with quite a bit of education. We do provide them with education. They have classes with me both before surgery and after surgery as well as information in writing, but it is overwhelming and sometimes just getting a refresher of what things they should stick to just to keep them safe in those initial days while getting that protein and fluids that they need.

5:31 Ilene Cantor

And how important would you say in this journey is family support? I know that some families I've spoken to have members that have not had the surgery and actually just the menus at home out of respect for the loved ones' health and a lot of times family has become healthier together. Do you see that often as far as the importance of that support role?

5:52 Jennifer Traub

I do. Actually, that is an ideal scenario that you just described. Support in general is extremely important after someone has had weight loss surgery. The person having surgery has to learn to eat a new way. They're often incorporating more activities into their days and they will need encouragement in finding new ways to cope with maybe situations that were previously tempting for them such as holiday meals or social gatherings that might involve food or beverages. So, I think really whether the support is coming from family or friends, that support regardless, plays a vital role in that person's overall success. But you are right, Ilene. Many families are positively impacted when one of their household members decides to have bariatric surgery. There's usually new healthier foods that are routinely brought into the home as well as an overall increased awareness of nutrition. And because, as you probably well know, impractical to have more than one dinner meal prepared, many families make those dietary changes together at dinner time and that does help all family members form healthier food habits.

7:03 Ilene Cantor

So you mentioned the holidays, with the holidays coming up around the corner. For bariatric patients, what is the bottom line, most people say, "Well, I have to watch my portion size." It's a little bit beyond that when you're a bariatric patient and you're going to someone's home and it's filled with a lot of the foods that are in the don't category. What parting words do you have for someone that knows they're going to a party?

7:28 Jennifer Traub

Well, I always tell my patients, prepare. We often heard the cliché: "Failing to plan is planning to fail", so plan ahead. Make sure that you've had a healthy snack or a meal before you go to that event, so that you weren't tempted to make poor choices or foods that might not be ideal for you. And ideally, all foods can be eaten in moderation as long as the person tolerates them well. So watch those portions. I do encourage my patients to keep a daily food journal so that they can track their calories and protein intake and that really is no different at the holidays.

8:07 Ilene Cantor

Thank you so much for your time. Jennifer Traub, Registered Dietitian at Hurley Bariatric Center. This Think Healthy, Think Hurley interview was brought to you by Hurley Medical Center. If you would like to find a Hurley physician, please call 888-611-4HMC.