The liquid diet. It’s one of the least talked about aspects of anti-reflux surgery, but unfortunately it’s also one of the worst. The fact of the matter is that if you’re undergoing an anti-reflux surgery, chances are you’ll spend at least two weeks on a liquid diet (Linx is the exception). Chances also are that you’ll be very, very unhappy about it.
Contrary to popular belief, the liquid diet is not just a way for doctors to torture their patients. We’re not sitting over here delighting in your misery. Liquid diets, albeit unpleasant, are incredibly important to the recovery process. They’re our way of making sure that your body successfully heals, that nothing gets knocked out of place or obstructed, and that your wounds have time to scar properly. That being said, we understand that when we say the words “two week liquid diet”, it’s totally normal for your eyes to bulge, your heart rate to rise, your hands to shake, and your immediate reaction to be a strong desire to slap us.
Everyone hates liquid diets, as they should. Everyone also fears that they’re not going to be able to make it through the full 2+ weeks of their liquid diet. That’s why we’re here to help. Liquid diets are tough to stick to, but there are a few key tips that should help you successfully survive yours:
Think about it as a weight loss opportunity.
That’s right! While there are a lot of things you won’t love about your liquid diet, what you will love is watching the pounds drop right off of you while you’re on it. Weight loss is pretty much guaranteed for people who go on liquid diets, and even if you don’t lose a ton of weight, you’ll most likely find yourself feeling better in a lot of other ways (think: no bloating).
Figure out what you like and stick with it.
The trick to surviving a liquid diet is finding things to eat (and by eat we mean drink) that you enjoy. Sure, it might be tough saying goodbye to your favorite home-cooked meatloaf for two weeks, but if you can find 5 or 6 liquid alternatives that you really love, the process will be much more bearable. Have a restaurant you love the soup from? Get a bunch of it to go, strain it one or two times, and then enjoy!
Keep yourself distracted.
A liquid diet’s biggest enemy is boredom. Why, you might ask? Because people are social eaters and grazers. Maybe you’re one of the lucky few people who doesn’t have this problem, but if you’re anything like me then you’ll understand. I’m a grazer, and when I’m bored I eat. Not because I’m hungry, not because I need to, but because I’m bored and I want something to do and the act of eating counts as something. Ever noticed how you can go almost the whole day on the weekend without remembering to eat, but at the office you’ve had five snacks before it hits 11 am? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. So if you’re on a liquid diet, remember that keeping yourself distracted is key. The less bored you are, the less you’ll have that urge to eat, and the less likely you are to cheat.
Embrace the popsicles.
Simply put, the number one thing that our liquid diet patients have consistently mentioned as helping them get through the liquid diet is popsicles. There’s no scientific data surrounding it, we really don’t know why this is the way it is, we just know it’s a fact. So make sure you’ve got the freezer stocked before starting your liquid diet!
Variation is key.
As with anything in life, variation is key when it comes to surviving your liquid diet. If you try to just eat three things for the whole two weeks, you’ll be burnt out by day four. Make sure that you’ve got a steady rotation of food options for the two weeks, it’ll help keep your diet from being any more monotonous than it already is.
Remember the end game.
If you’re doing a liquid diet, it’s likely that at some point you’re going to want to give up. You’ll start feeling hopeless, you’ll be more irritated than you normally would, you’ll doubt the medical necessity of the diet and wonder if the world will really end if you eat just one little solid food. At this point it’s incredibly important to sit back, relax, and remember why you’re doing this. Sure, two weeks without eating solid food isn’t great. But do you know what is great? Not staying up all night because your reflux won’t let you sleep. Not being afraid to eat certain foods because you know the repercussions will be painful. Not burping and vomiting all the time for no apparent reason. Not being dependent on daily medication to ease the symptoms of your reflux. Living a life that’s GERD free, reflux free, and heartburn free. That’s great. It’s the endgame, and this liquid diet is just the last thing standing in your way, so don’t let it stop you from getting where you need to be.
We understand that liquid diets are the toughest obstacle in your recovery from anti-reflux surgery, but they’re a challenge we know you can overcome! Keep these tips in mind when you’re starting on your liquid diet, and remember that we’re always available to answer any other questions you may have when it comes to dealing with a liquid diet.