For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, WLS is the common abbreviation for Weight Loss Surgery and Roux en Y Gastric Bypass is the type of Weight Loss Surgery my husband and I had. I had my surgery in October 2002 and he had his in December 2003. At the time of surgery, I was 180 lbs overweight and my husband was 150 lbs overweight. The average adult stomach will hold an average of 1 quart of food, or 32 oz. The surgeon reduced our stomachs to only hold a volume of 1 oz. This new stomach is referred to as a gastric pouch or "pouch". The surgeon also performed a Roux-en-Y gastrojejunostomy. This procedure removes a portion of the intestine and the duodenum, preventing absorption of fat and sugar, then the new pouch is attached to the small intestine. So not only does the volume of food we are able to eat decrease to a minimum, but there is also an issue with malabsorption. The diet immediately after surgery consists of only liquids. The solidity and types of foods allowed gradually evolves over the first 6-8 weeks.
Having this procedure has changed the way we choose which foods to eat. Because of the malabsorption, our diets should be high in protein, low in simple carbohydrates, low in fat, and minimal sugar. Too many carbohydrates, fats, and/or sugars at once causing "dumping syndrome" where our bodies essentially reject the food and we are left nauseated, breaking out in sweats until the offending food moves through the intestines. It's not fun to go through and takes about an hour before we are feeling normal again. The size of the pouch dictates that we need as many nutrients as we can get in as little food as possible. The size of the pouch causes pain when the wrong foods are eaten as well. Carbonated beverages, rice, pasta, breads (anything that expands when wet), medications, too much sugar, can all be extremely painful and if the food bites are too big, it can actually get stuck in the stomach, preventing other foods or beverages from being consumed.
Don't get me wrong, even with these limitations, I would do again today. We both lost approximately 150 lbs in the first year after surgery. I no longer have to take medications to regulate my blood sugar and his blood pressure is normal for the first time in a decade. Unfortunately, our bodies are very resilient and over the past 6-7 years, our pouches have expanded to 8 oz. While that's a far cry from 32 oz, it is enough that when combined with other factors, it has caused us to gain back 50% of what we lost. This is normal for most RNY patients and is still considered a successful procedure.
So what have we discovered in this process? We feel better when we are eating lean, good quality meats, fresh fruits and vegetable, and drinking lots of water. We read labels now before we buy a new product. Sometimes we have to take another look at the nutritional labels on products we've always used. We've become amazed at how many additives are in processed foods, how much sugar is in the most savory products, and fats that really do not need to be there. We buy All Natural and Organic as much as we can afford and have learned some fabulous ways to prepare our meals. But this isn't just for WLS patients.. everyone.. whether you are obese, overweight, needing to add an exercise program, or physically fit and running marathons, the recipes and tips that will be covered by this blog will fit your lifestyle.
For more information on Weight Loss Surgery and Roux en Y, please visit these and other sites available online. The RNY is not the only Weight Loss Surgery option available and information on those procedures is available as well.