If you ask anyone in the bariatric community, there’s a good chance that you will get a handful of different responses when it comes to the “rules” they were told to follow prior to surgery. Even so, there are a handful of these guidelines that seem to be exactly the same across the board, regardless of the surgery type or the doctor. Here are the ones that we found almost everyone followed (and if you don’t, you probably should!)

1. No Drinking While Eating. At one point, our doctor even said that taking a sip while eating was okay, and even he has since gone back to the original idea of waiting 30-45 minutes after eating to start drinking again. The industry standard also throws in not drinking 15-30 minutes before eating.

2. High Protein Meals and Eat Your Protein First. With the exception of a few doctors that are now recommending plant-based diets after the first year, MOST WLS docs tell their patients that this WOE (way of eating) is pretty much lifelong.

3. Avoiding Carbonation. Some doctors OK carbonation after the first six months, but most doctors will tell you to completely avoid it. And this is actually a good idea since most carbonated beverages contain either sugar (which can cause dumping syndrome in many people) or artificial sweeteners, which can cause other physical issues. Additionally, for those with the RnY or the Gastric Band, excess carbonation can cause their pouches to stretch over time.

4. Take Your Vitamins! Taking your vitamins is a MUST. A good multi vitamin and a B12 supplement may be all you need. Some doctors will also prescribe extra calcium (which is great for those that are lactose-intolerant) and maybe even extra iron and/or magnesium. Be sure to check with your surgeon, and don’t be afraid to have some blood work done if needed to find out what vitamins your body needs more of!

5. Sip, Sip, Sip (Your Water!) While some doctors okay the use of sugar free drinks such as Crystal Light, Mio, or sugar-free Powerade or Gatorade, most agree that PURE water is best for hydration. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 64 oz of PURE water, and then drink other beverages on top of that.

6. Get Up And Move!! This is not-negotiable. Weather you go out and take a walk every day, do yoga or pilates, or do a full-blown workout, movement is 100% a necessity. It keeps your metabolism moving, it helps the digestive system, it helps with sleep patterns, and it boots your immune system. Additionally, exercise has shown to relive some mild depression symptoms. That being said, most doctors agree to NOT RELY ON EXERCISE FOR WEIGHT LOSS. While exercise can and does help with that aspect, it’s not meant as a substitute for good nutrition.

7. Watch Those Portions! Even with a smaller stomach, it’s still possible to overeat. A good rule of thumb was given to Jen at her psych evaluation in 2012: Eat 7 bites of food (yes, this is how we got our name!) – 4 bites of protein, two bites of veggies, and one bite of starch. If you’re still hungry, go back for 3 more bites of protein. And these are SMALL bites – use a tapas/appetizer spoon or a baby spoon for at least the first year to gauge how small or large your bites should be. After the first year or so, you may eat a little more – up to a cup of food at a time. But you might not. Never force yourself to eat beyond your full point and remember: IT’S OKAY TO THROW IT AWAY! If you’re struggling with portion sizes, remember that you should be eating, total, about 4-6 oz of food. So that will be about 3 oz of protein with 1-3 oz of veggies or 2 oz veggies and 1 oz starch. Remember that if you have RnY or Gastric Band, your pouch is only about the size of an egg. For those with the Gastric Sleeve, our sleeve is about the size and shape of a small banana. Use small plates, measuring utensils, and scales until you can get the hang of it!

8. SUPPORT! Weather your find a good support group locally or join one here on facebook (or other online support groups), having the support of those that are experiencing the same thing you are, or who have experienced the same thing you are, is imperative. We all need someone to uplift and encourage us and also to “kick us in the rear” every once in awhile.

We hope that you guys found this guideline helpful! Do you have any rules that aren’t on this list? Let us know in our group at www.facebook.com/groups/7Bites