Diet after Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery limits the amount of food you can consume and in some cases the number of calories absorbed through the small intestine. However, in order for surgery to be truly successful, a strict diet must be followed after surgery. This diet will consist of foods and beverages that will allow for weight loss while also providing the nutrients needed to stay healthy.  It is also very important to keep a food journal so you can list everything you are eating and drinking throughout the day. After surgery, you and your dietitian will focus on several goals including:

  • Making sure you receive the vitamins and nutrients that you need to stay healthy while at the same time losing weight at a safe pace. The post-surgical diet may be complemented by nutritional supplementation as necessary in the form of vitamin B12, iron, calcium or vitamin D to name a few.
  • Making sure you have changed your eating habits for the better. Proper diet after surgery is a lifelong challenge and you must be committed to your new diet after surgery.
  • Making sure you receive sufficient protein through foods and supplements as protein helps healing immediately after surgery and reduces lean muscle mass loss during the long-term weight loss period.
  • Making sure you drink plenty of water at designated times to maximize hydration and avoid the dehydration effects of dumping syndrome in the case of gastric bypass patients.

The Typical Diet after Surgery

Immediately after surgery:

The post surgical bariatric surgery diet may start with up to two weeks on liquids. The first few days will be limited to clear liquids.

When transitioning to the modified liquid diet, these liquids should not include sodas, or beverages containing caffeine or alcohol. Rather, patients should drink liquids that are high in protein, low in sugar, fat and calories. Patients should remain hydrated by consuming low or no calorie liquids often throughout the day.

Often the modified full liquid diet may make a patient feel full, as the gastric pouch is still healing.

Weeks 2-4: Pureed Foods.

Pureed foods or foods that are the consistency of applesauce may need to be blended, if not easily mashed with a fork.

Week 5-6: Soft Food Diet

Your surgeon will advance your diet to a soft food diet when the time is right. At this time, consuming a limited amount of low sugar, low fat soft foods will help the patient feel full and satisfied. At this time it will be important for the patient to recognize their limitations and understand how their body reacts to food.

Full Solids:

When appropriate, patients will be transitioned into a full solid diet with some restrictions. Patients are typically instructed to avoid liquids for a period of time prior and following a meal (exact amount of time may vary by surgeon but typically at least 30 minutes). Congratulations!

Practical Advice:

Advice after weight loss surgery, no matter what procedure a patient undergoes, includes avoiding high fat and high sugar foods. These types of foods add unnecessary calories and work against optimal weight loss results and subsequent disease resolution goals. Patients should also eat slowly, thoroughly chewing, allowing for maximum digestion.

Remember, while the diet after weight loss surgery is very strict it does not have to be boring. Visit our recipes page, which offer recipes and video demonstrations on how to make delicious meals that do not compromise a post-weight loss surgery diet.

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