Practice Before Play

A friend of mine asked if it was possible to “practice before play,” in advance of such a life-changing surgery. The answer is, “Kind of.”

There are definitely some changes you can implement ahead of time. The easiest is getting enough fluid in each day. If you’re not drinking 64 ounces per day, it’s a good start. You can also practice not drinking while eating. That’s an important habit that needs to be in place. The literature says you can’t drink within 30 minutes, but it’s more true to say that you shouldn’t. I read that having liquid and food in the pouch at the same time can contribute to the stomach stretching out, especially if this is a habit that continues over time.

For most people, not drinking while eating is a big change. My husband previously consumed a lot of his water for the day at meals. I try to mimic many of the changes he’s made, but that’s not one of them (yet). At restaurants, we typically still order water for him, but we move it to my side of the table so he doesn’t accidentally reach for it. I try to remind him gently when I can, like when we’re making coffee before breakfast.

It turns out that this isn’t a totally alien concept for some families. My same friend’s family had a rule that they weren’t allowed to drink until after they had finished their meal. The thought being that they wouldn’t fill up on their drink. I’ve seen her do it at business lunches. She reminisced that it was funny to see her family’s glasses totally full while eating with other families.

I think it might be initially hard to create this as a habit, but it’s needed and gets easier over time. My husband actually mentioned that he needed to move his vitamins and calcium pills to a time other than dinner because they were filling him up too quickly, so definitely no room for liquid.

Another new eating practice is taking your time to chew more and eat slower. Before the surgery, my husband started to cut meats and vegetables into smaller pieces. That was helpful because now it’s second nature. I think comparatively, my husband eats quicker than most people who have had the surgery, but he is definitely slower than he used to be.

There’s no way to practice for the new normal, as far as the amount of food goes. The surgery changes the food relationship. He rarely feels hunger. He can get full on one egg and a piece of cheese and you can’t practice that in advance. The closest practice is the liquid diet before the surgery where you can have three protein shakes and one small sensible meal. It’s really the habit of making sure your body has the fluids and protein (and later, the rest of the nutrients) it needs to thrive.

Good luck wherever you are in this journey!

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