Vegan diets with bariatric procedures — possible?

Vegan diets and bariatric procedures: do you think they can be compatible with the advancements in vegan protein foods? I am considering a procedure called endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty. It’s not bariatric surgery, however it has to be treated the same nutrition-wise as a bariatric surgery. I believe the qualifications aren’t as stringent as bariatric surgery (I think a 30 BMI qualifies you). I do not want surgery because I don’t know how we would make it work easily when our parents live almost two hours away and my husband’s work schedule, and I’m not sure if I’d qualify for surgery anyway. We depend on me being able to take the kid to school among other things. This is an outpatient procedure so while I may not be up and scrubbing the baseboards, I think I’d be able to take my kid to school and function okay.

I did lose a lot of weight a few years ago, just before I went vegan-ish. I relied on lower calorie frozen meals and protein shakes and A LOT of walking. I lost it pretty quickly, although not insanely quickly. I lost about 60 pounds. And then I found myself uncontrollably hungry for months after. That’s to be expected. I don’t know how to get around that. I’ve been thinking about why I struggle with weight. I can only speak about my own struggles but I don’t eat fast food, I don’t have a sweet tooth, I don’t care about food when I’m not hungry, but I know I consume too many calories. I struggle with the attention needed to plan and cook meals with certain nutrition profiles, I definitely struggle with the hunger that comes after major weight loss – that’s probably the biggest for me, and I mostly think I struggle to pay attention to serving sizes and stopping when full because I’m dealing with life. I’ve thought about simplifying my diet for a while now but I have stopped myself because of my husband. He has never said or done anything to make me feel like I can’t do this for me, that’s guilt I’ve heaped upon myself!

There is a ton of research out there to confirm how hard it really is to keep weight off. Our bodies fight it the whole way even though we might be healthier with less weight. I think bariatric procedures help with that. I know they cause people to produce less ghrelin and I think some of the other hormonal processes are interrupted with altering the stomach. Anyway, I don’t know how long ESG has been available, I think not too long because I have been interested in bariatric procedures for a while now but between possibly not qualifying and being surgery-hesitant, I hadn’t been able to find something I thought would work for me. 

Another reason I’ve been hesitant is because I’m not sure how willing a doctor would be if I wanted to stick with a vegan diet, or at least mostly vegan diet. But I think with all the new vegan foods coming out, it might be possible? There is now vegan whey protein. I think products like super-firm tofu could be interchangeable with lean proteins like lean chicken or fat-free cheeses. Lightlife hot dogs are low in fat, not fibery, and contain 7 grams of protein for only 60 calories. I already avoid eating tons of insoluble fiber foods anyway because of digestive issues. That’s my only concern with vegan protein sources is sometimes they have higher fiber that I’m not sure is advisable in the beginning.

For now, I figure I might should try incorporating vegan protein shakes in my day. I want to see if increasing my protein can help curb hunger and if the procedure is something I do, I’ll be drinking protein shakes anyway. I have some California Performance vegan whey protein ordered but until that arrives I’m getting ready to go pick up some Orgain vegan protein powder. I hope someone who has experience with bariatric procedures sees this! If you have done the ESG, I’d especially love to hear about your experience.

5 thoughts on “Vegan diets with bariatric procedures — possible?

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  1. Hello Heidi! I hope you can figure out something that works for you, whether it involves the sleeve / bariatric surgery or not.

    On the subject of bariatric surgery, we have a moderator at let’s go vegan-ish who is vegetarian, but not vegan because he finds it easier to get the higher protein foods from dairy products.

    I have a friend who got a similar sleeve procedure as what you’re talking about, and she has lost a lot of weight with it, she is happy, she got it earlier this year , but she isn’t vegan or vegetarian.

    My uncle’s wife, who is my aunt by marriage, struggled with weight her whole life, and did a bariatric surgery more than 10 years ago, about 15 years ago, I think, and she was very happy, was very slim for at least a year or more, but gradually, the weight has come back.

    On the other hand, my aunt’s her son, who had been chubby as a child and struggled with weight, his whole life, that’s my cousin, he also got the surgery done around the same time, and I would say he still looks pretty slim. So the surgery has had long lasting effects for him. Maybe it helps if you do the surgery when you’re younger like my cousin? I think he was in his 30s when he got it done.

    1. Oh, and I’ve more or less ruled out ever getting surgery I think (gastric bypass). There is a sleeve surgery but it doesn’t seem like the results are vastly different than the one I’m considering which is not surgical.

  2. By the way, sometimes I wonder, is it for sure that the extra weight would be bad for you to keep? I was just thinking about this yesterday, my mom was overweight from age 50 onward, but she lived to be 87. She had lots of health issues, and theoretically, I could imagine she could’ve been healthier if she had been slimmer. But she did live to be 87 which is a lot older than a lot of people live to be.

    My father was always slim and trim, and yet he died in his sleep at age 70. I know that they’ve done studies that show that certain things like triglycerides and cholesterol and diabetes and other stuff can improve with losing weight, but just thinking from personal experience, I wonder if people are necessarily less healthy just because they are heavier?

    I was talking to my doctor about something similar (longevity, not weight loss) about a month ago. The doctor was talking about longevity genes and she was saying that it looks like I may have some really good longevity genes, based on how long some of the women in my family have lived. I told her about my mom, not about the weight thing, but about how she had lots of health issues and yet she lived to be 87. She said, well, maybe it’s because of that longevity gene … the doctor said that without that longevity gene, my mom probably wouldn’t have lived such a long time with all of those health issues otherwise.

    Could it be that it’s genetics regarding something like a longevity gene, and not so much, a person’s weight, that determines how long they live? But my mom didn’t have such a great quality of life for the past 10 years for sure. My dad had pretty good quality of life, was very active, right up to age 70, but then he died. So we don’t know what it would’ve been like if he had lived longer.

    On the other hand, even with all of her health issues, my mom was actually doing pretty well, her main problem was lack of mobility due to arthritis and a knee injury and eventually, lack of muscle tone due to not exercising. She could’ve had a very good quality of life if she didn’t have so much stress due to lack of money and if she had had access to the mobility tools that she would have needed and if she could’ve had a personal assistant.

    I don’t know whether I inherited the longevity genes from my mom’s side or the possibly not-so-long, longevity, genes from my dad. On the other hand, my dad‘s mother, my paternal grandmother, was a mostly indigenous woman from Ecuador, and she was overweight, her whole life, even from a young age, and she lived well into her 90s. my paternal grandfather died much younger, in his 50s or 60s? I don’t know, maybe I do have longevity genes on both sides, but maybe the longevity genes get expressed more in women?

    Just some thoughts that your post triggered for me.

    1. I am not wholly concerned about my health because of my weight (although I am probably 10-15 years away from menopause when the health concerns are amplified and the weight is more stubborn to lose). I have some good luck as far as that goes. I do not have cholesterol issues since being vegan. My total is 148 which is right around ideal. I also do not carry my fat inward/around my belly…visceral fat I think? So I haven’t had an issue with it collecting around my liver which I think is a huge deal when it comes to type II diabetes, fatty liver disease, cholesterol/plaque in the arteries and so forth. My blood pressure isn’t high. However, physically I have been experiencing pain I think I might not have if I lost weight, and it will only get worse as I age. I have been having what I assume to be plantar fasciitis and just general joint pain. It only became a thing when I was pregnant but I know it would lessen the pain if I was carrying less (body produces relaxin when pregnant that helps the hips widen but it can be an issue if you produce too much). I have come along way, just with time and exercise in regards to the pain I experienced (although exercise is difficult and seems to worsen the foot issue at times) but it’s definitely still there. I don’t see me gaining and gaining weight. I am probably pretty much at a stable weight, which is a good thing but I’d like to feel more comfortable.

      And yeah, I’ve definitely seen people go both ways in regards to weight after procedures. I’m hoping, of course, I’d be in the category that keeps it off. I have optimism when it comes to that because I think my biggest issues are blood sugar control/hormonal response which I think will improve with weight loss and the procedure, and I think it will help me come to terms with not feeling the need to cook top-notch meals for others and eating them because I made them. Maybe it’s weird, but I think I’m an excellent cook but I don’t care that much about food most days? We have chips and cookies in the house for George, I have chocolate in the cabinet, etc. and I don’t eat them. It’s not a compulsion for me in those regards. I just cook because it’s my hobby, I’m good at it, and so I eat what I cook. And I’m usually really hungry when I have meal ready and have trouble even thinking about eating a smaller portion size and by the time my stomach has figured out I’m full, I’ve eaten too much.

      1. Speaking of genetics, both 23&Me and another thing I did that broke down my DNA results even further, say I’m likely to weigh less than others and not struggle with my weight. I also have a smaller stomach size than others. I know it’s not all genetic but it’s really made me think why do I struggle? I don’t have the genes for a metabolic disorder as far as I can tell. For example, I don’t have a fatty liver, carry excess visceral fat, PCOS, etc.

        I remember being a small child and not liking a food and feeling stuffed and my poor grandmother was for some reason overly worried I was starving and would hound me to eat. She was so worried I think she’d make something she thought I’d like more and encourage me to eat it. I didn’t want to but I felt pressured into it so I would. I think that’s a bit of why I have trouble recognizing when I’m hungry or not. Growing up she was very poor and sometimes would eat raw oatmeal to quiet her stomach. Although she never struggled with her weight, I think it caused her to have some issues vicariously.

        Anyway, I’m giving myself a few months to think this over and start changing some things. I wonder if I wouldn’t be just as happy making my husband food he likes and making something different for myself. That way I wouldn’t worry about feeding him something he might not like while being happy with what I eat. I am not picky at all, and if I was living by myself, I would probably be eating what others would consider abysmal.

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