In December 2009 I opted to have a gastric sleeve operation performed. It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, in fact it took me over a year to make the decision. But it’s proved to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
For those who’ve not heard of the procedure before it’s where a surgeon removes 80% of your stomach and leaves behind a tube of stomach. Unlike the Lap Band it’s irreversible. Which means that it’s about a life long commitment.
When I tell people about having had the procedure the news is met with a variety of reactions, but the predominant one is of curiosity. So in an attempt to help answer some of those questions I thought I’d put together a list of questions and responses. If you have anything else you’d like to know leave me a comment and I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Who knows I may even collect them up and do another post!
The following answers are just my experience with life after the procedure. I don’t know anyone else that’s had the procedure so it’s hard to compare experiences. This information does not replace medical advice, it’s merely my experience and if you’re considering the procedure you should talk to your medical provider and follow their advice.
1. What can you eat?
I can eat whatever my heart desires; just not in big proportions. Unlike the Lap Band the stomach isn’t restricted so there’s nothing for food to get caught on. Of course I couldn’t eat anything straight away I had to build up to it over a period of six weeks post surgery.
There’s been some significant changes to the food that I do eat. Prior to the surgery I was addicted to hot chips, after the surgery I really don’t enjoy them any more. I used to be a big milk drinker, now milk products make me sick. It was worse just after the surgery. I would have a mouthful of milk and I’d be sick. Now I can eat some cheese and it’s not a big deal.
I can eat bread, pasta and rice. I used to eat a lot of pasta prior to the surgery, now I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to. It’s just too heavy and fills me up too quickly. I tend to eat more rice now as I get a decent size portion before I feel full.
I can eat all meats, it’s just I can no longer eat a Hog’s Breath steak.
2. How much can you eat?
It varies. When I first moved on to solid foods after the surgery I was struggling to finish 250g of baby food. However these days I can eat a recommended portion size.
If I have a sandwich I try to have a maximum of three toppings on it, any more and I’m just not going to finish it. Even with three toppings I’m most likely only going to get two thirds of the sandwich in before I feel full. I try not to eat bread rolls as they are really bulky.
If we eat out in a restaurant I’ll normally only get half a meal in before I’m full. If we eat fast food, for example McDonalds, I’ll only be able to have a burger or chips – not both.
I can eat more rice than pasta. Unfortunately I can eat a lot of potato chips in one sitting, so I try to avoid them. Same goes with lollies or chocolates.
They recommend that you don’t drink while eating, but I’m yet to master that art. So if I drink either immediately before the meal or during the meal I’ll get a lot less food in.
I have found that the longer I go without food the bigger that first meal can be. It’s still no where near what I used to be able to eat, it’s not even a full plate of food, but it’s a lot bigger than what I can eat if I’m grazing all day. I don’t make a habit of going long periods without food, but it’s been an interesting observation.
Image source: Getty
3. Do you get sick?
If I eat to much I don’t get throw up sick, but I certainly get the “I’ve eaten too much and will now have to lie on the couch and make moaning sounds”. In the early days I used to go from eating to full in super speed and I didn’t see it coming. Now as time has gone on I have a better idea about when it’s time to stop eating.
Interestingly I’ve developed a physiological reaction to being too full, apart from the obvious full feeling. As I get close to being full my nose starts to run, if I don’t heed the warning and keep eating it turns into full blown sneezing attack. I have no idea why it happens, but my Father has the same thing happen if he drinks too much red wine, so I’ve assumed it’s a family trait. I’m actually getting to be quite fond of it as it makes me pay attention to what I’m eating.
4. How fast have you lost the weight?
It’s different for everyone, but I’ve managed to lose 33kg since 1 December 2010. I need to preface that with the fact that I haven’t watched what I’m eating at all and I haven’t done any other exercise apart from Roller Derby Freshmeat.
After the surgery the weight really fell off, however since May 2010 I’ve only lost 2 kilos. I think I’ve reached the point where I now have to start doing regular exercise and be more selective about what I eat. I am still eating a lot of junk food.
I only have another 10kg to go and I’m in the healthy BMI range for my height. I suspect the last ten are going to make me work for them, but I think it’s about time I did some hard labour.
5. What do you find most different since the surgery?
It’s been such an interesting experience, one that I wouldn’t trade for all the world. I have however really struggled with adjusting to the new portions.
We’re told all our lives that we should finish all the food on our plates, but now I rarely get a plate of food with the right portion on it so I find myself often starring at a plate covered in uneaten food. It can be really hard mentally to get past that.
There’s been times when my frustration level has gone through the roof because I just can’t eat the portion size that I want it. I know that it’s all mental, I’m actually getting all the calories that I need to survive. In fact I’m getting more than I need!
I don’t enjoy eating out like I used to. I just see it as such a waste of money because I end up throwing out a large portion of what I get served.
Image source: Getty
That’s the answers to my top five questions, I hope they’ve been helpful in some way. If there is anything you would like to know about living with a gastric sleeve please let me know either in the comments, or you can contact me via my contact button on the right sidebar.
Comments on this post are now closed due to reaching the comment limit. Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey.