Surgery can be an overwhelming experience. The process can be nerve-wracking and challenging from managing pain and discomfort, taking medications, and undergoing changes in your body, such as weight gain. Proper recovery is critical for ensuring you do not get any complications or slow down your recovery process. Lack of proper nutrition can also affect your overall health and complicate your healing process.
While it is key to ensure you are eating well to ensure your recovery process is smooth, you might start noticing that you have added a few extra pounds. Weight gain is a common side effect of surgery which could result from certain medications, lack of movement or exercise, and fluid retention, among other reasons. Weight gain also depends on the type of surgery you had, medical history, stress, change of feeding pattern, and prolonged recovery time.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for overall health and a fast recovery. While it is not an ideal time to focus on weight loss, it is important to try and maintain a healthy weight for your overall health and quality of life.
What Causes Weight Gain After Surgery?
After surgery, you may notice that you look bloated, especially on your feet and arms. While this may look like weight gain, it is really not. Fluid retention, also called post-operative edema, is a result of surgery and occurs when fluid builds up in your body as a response to inflammation and promoting healing. It may also be caused by medication side effects such as some IV drugs or staying sedentary for a long. Edema can occur in one area(localized) or throughout your body (generalized), and you may notice swelling, puffiness, and decreased joint mobility in the ankles, fingers, or wrists. You may also experience rapid weight gain and low urine output. As you continue to recover, the water retention will gradually subside. If it does not go down on its own, you may ask your doctor to write you a prescription or review the medications that might be causing edema. Your doctor may also recommend wearing a compression garment, minimizing salt intake, elevating the affected areas, or some minimal movements.
Trauma is a bodily response to the distress caused by surgery. Post-surgery trauma causes inflammation (it induces water retention) and hormonal imbalance. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also cause weight gain.
Hormonal imbalances can be triggered by psychological and physical stress. Stress can also induce water retention by raising anti-diuretic hormone(ADH) levels in your body and causing kidney disturbance. This results in weight gain as the kidneys try to conserve water in your body.
Prescribed medications for post-surgery recovery promote faster healing and strength but can also result in weight gain.
When you just had surgery, you will have to stay confined in bed for some time to facilitate recovery. You may be allowed to get up sometimes, but you won’t be able to stay mobile for long, depending on the type of surgery you had. While it is crucial for your recovery, it can result in weight gain. Lack of mobility or complete rest can slow down your body’s metabolic rate (BMR) and caloric expenditure resulting in weight gain.
How to Avoid Weight Gain After Surgery
Here are some tips that can help you eat better and avoid weight gain after surgery.
It is essential to take plenty of water to help speed up your healing process. Water also helps you feel full of energy and naturally curbs hunger pangs throughout the day. This helps lose weight while also assisting in the digestion of protein and fiber. When your body is well hydrated, it signals your kidneys to stop conserving water. It is essential to avoid high-calorie and carbonated drinks like soda. You should also avoid taking alcohol until you are fully recovered. Staying away from alcohol also helps you lose weight.
Eat Lean Protein
Protein is crucial for tissue repair, healing, growth, energy, and maintenance. After surgery, ensure you consume a diet protein-rich diet in every meal or snack, such as chicken, legumes, low-fat dairy products, fish, nuts, beans, or eggs. To avoid adding weight, choose lean or low-fat dairy. Go for baked, steamed, roasted, grilled and broiled meats. Avoid fried or sautéed meat and heavy gravies and sauces to avoid consumption of high calories. Protein keeps you fuller for longer- a perfect solution for weight loss.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
According to research, consuming lots of vegetables helps prevent weight gain because they contain high water and fiber content, making you fuller for longer, preventing you from overeating. Additionally, fruits and vegetables contain essential nutrients and vitamins that promote healing. Spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, mushrooms, and peppers are great choices.
A common side effect of pain medication and anesthesia is constipation which results in bloating. After surgery, you are less active, which also exacerbates constipation. Eating a diet high in fiber can help relieve or prevent constipation, ensure normal bowel movement and function and maintain a healthy weight. High fiber diet includes oatmeal, whole wheat bread, beans, quinoa, brown rice, and barley. Ensure you drink lots of water to help process the fiber without discomfort, and add it to your diet gradually.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Some pain medications and antibiotics prescribed after surgery tend to cause a low appetite or an upset stomach. Ensure you consume nutritious meals for quick healing. It would be better to consume frequent meals instead of three large meals daily. This will help prevent weight gain and ensure you meet your nutritional requirements. Ensure every meal or snack you eat is well-balanced and healthy, and aim for 4 to 5 portions. You can snack on an apple or eat whole bread with a cup of soup.
Other helpful tips include:
- Set goals that you can meet within reason
- Eat slowly and do not eat when full
- If you notice that you are regaining weight, ask for support to enable you to get back on a healthier path
- Avoid empty calories and plan ahead so that you always have healthier options at hand
- Try and stay physically active as much as possible as soon your doctor clears you
- Attend all follow-up appointments and check-ins
- Make smart choices when preparing meals
- Avoid snacking in between meals
- Follow your dietary guidelines as instructed
For more information on weight loss after surgery, contact Zinnia Aesthetics and Anti-Aging Clinic today. We are glad to help.