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Your Complete Guide to The Pre-Bariatric Surgery Liver Shrink Diet

Pre Op Bariatric Liver Shrink Diet


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Our US-registered bariatric nutritionist talks about liver shrinking diet before bariatric surgery.

Hey, everybody! I wanted to do a post on liver shrink diet. We have had a lot of questions and concerns about it lately, also frustrations related to it. So, I wanted to go ahead and address those. I did do a post on this about a month or two ago, so, this may be a review for some of you because we have enough new people added. People that are having surgery and going through it very recently that I wanted to go ahead and do a brand new post.

What is Liver Shrink Bariatric Diet?

So, the liver shrink diet is what its name suggests:

  • It is there to help shrink your liver before bariatric surgery, and that is because your liver is in the way of the stomach and the small intestine when the surgeon goes into your abdominal cavity and
  • So by shrinking your liver, it is easier for that surgeon to push is out of the way so that they can perform the surgery

Consequences of Pre-Bariatric Liver Shrink Diet

What Happens With Pre-Op Bariatric Liver Shrink Diet?

Nervousness and Anxiety

It is common to experience nervousness before bariatric surgery. Now what happens a lot of the times before the operation is that people exhibit the last supper mentality, is what I like to call it, and so:

  • You may have feelings of anxiety
  • You might be worried that you are never going to eat again
  • You are never going to enjoy some of your favorite foods, and it is 100% normal to feel that way.

Nervousness Due To Liver Shrink Diet

It is understandable to feel that way to be nervous. It is a hazardous area to tread in because when you gain weight before surgery or exhibit this, maybe not your highest weight but you are eating more than what you usually do.

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating involving constant grazing on snacks and sugary foods is not a good habit. You are pushing your boundaries on things:

  • You are snacking more because of these anxieties
  • Your liver gets fatty, and it can enlarge, so you have this big, kind of gnarly looking organ in the way when the surgeon is doing the gastric sleeve or bypass surgery. So, it makes it much more difficult for them.

Emotional Eating and Liver Shrink Diet

Take Control of the Situation

  • Literally by cutting back these calories
  • By decreasing your portion sizes
  • Trying to increase your hydration; it helps to shrink that liver, so it is easier for the surgeon

Liver Shrink Diet - Conquer Your Fears

Liver Reduction Diet Before Gastric Sleeve/ Gastric Bypass – Side Effects

The other side of this is that a lot of people get complaints with the liver shrink diet because:

  • It does decrease your calorie so much that they have migraines
  • Maybe some lightheadedness
  • Some dizziness
  • The cold sweats
  • A little bit of shakiness

So, there could be a few things going on there.

Side Effects - Liver Shrink Diet Before Bariatric Surgery

How to Overcome Side-Effects of Pre-Op Liver Diet?

Decrease Caffeine Intake

One, if you are also decreasing your caffeine at the same time which is good, we want you to do that. If you are noticing specifically migraines, try adding in a little bit of the caffeine if you have gone caffeine-free and that can maybe help with some of the caffeine withdrawal.

So, if you are in the habit of having two cups of coffee, start slow, maybe cut it back to one cup of coffee and then the next day to half a cup of coffee and then a quarter cup of coffee and slowly decrease it, that helps with that headache, that withdrawal.

Stay Hydrated

The second potion is you are probably dehydrated, so:

  • just drinking more water
  • more decaf fluids whether it is tea, decaf coffee
  • infused waters and
  • diet juices can all help hydrate you

Overcoming Side-effects of Pre-op Bariatric Diet

Regulate Blood Sugar

The third thing and especially worrisome for those of you who have diabetes is you could have low blood sugar, and that is responsible for the lightheadedness, the dizziness, cold sweats, and the shaking.

If you do have diabetes, check your blood sugar more frequently with this pre-op diet. You want to make sure it is not going too low, but anyone can have low blood sugar/ You do not have to have diabetes.

Consume Complex Carbohydrates

So, if you notice any of the other symptoms, try adding a bit of complex carbohydrate. My go-to is:

  • Usually a piece of fresh fruit
  • Some fat and proteins
  • So, I like a piece of fresh fruit with maybe a tablespoon of peanut butter or
  • Have a cup of cottage cheese or a handful of nuts or string cheese

How To Overcome Side-effects of Liver Shrink Diet

Basically what happens is by having that combination of fresh fruit and the fat and protein, it helps slow down the release of carbohydrates, so, it helps raise your blood sugar, but it does not happen too quickly which can cause your body to release more insulin which would cause your blood sugar to trap again.

So, you would have this yo-yo effect and so by having a little bit of fat and protein with it just sort of help slow down the release of that carbohydrate.

So, hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, and comments. I am glad to help, and I am here anytime you need me.

Planning is the key to successful weight loss surgery, and pre-op liver shrink diet is imperative to the whole process. Click here to read more about bariatric surgery guidelines.

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Updated on November 19, 2018

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