Bariatric Surgery Diet:
Your New Way of Eating

Bariatric Surgery Diet

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Wondering what you should eat after weight loss surgery?

You're in the right place. I'll help you. I am your personal nutrition guide, after all, and one of my specialties is working with bariatric surgery patients.

Believe it or not, as of July, 2008, there is no specific published protocol for bariatric surgery diets from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

So depending on which weight loss surgery you're planning to have or have had (gastric bypass, lap band, VSG, or Duodenal Switch), and which physician you see, the general guidelines will vary a bit.

However, I'll share the basics of a surgical weight loss diet with you here.

By the way: did you know that HOW you eat post surgery is as important as what you eat? It is!

Post Bariatric Surgery Diet

After your weight loss surgery you will progress from a liquid diet to a pureed diet/soft diet, then on to a regular diet. (Your new regular diet.) How long you spend in each stage will depend on your surgeon's recommendations.

Once you're back to eating regular foods, there are some general meal planning/eating guidelines you'll need to adhere to, regardless of which weight loss surgery you've had:

Eat 5-6 small small meals per day

You won't be able to eat very much at one time so you'll need to eat frequently in order to avoid low blood sugar and to assure adequate nutrition. In the beginning your "new stomach" (also called a "pouch") can only hold about 1 oz, but eventually will stretch out to hold 1/2, 1 or even 1 1/2 cups.

(In other words, your new stomach will eventually stretch to the size of 1 egg or 1 lemon, whereas it used to be the size of a football!)

It's important to make good sensible nutritional choices at each of your small meals... don't want to be eating 1 oz of M&Ms every couple of hours!

That being said...

Every meal should include a protein rich food:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • fish
  • meat
  • milk
  • yogurt
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • beans
  • tofu
  • protein powders

Protein is essential AND protein fills you up!

Chew thoroughly

I'm guessing your mom told you this at some point, but with your post bariatric surgery diet, good chewing has never been so important!

You should chew your food so thoroughly that it's unidentifiable before you swallow it. This will help slow you down and assure you get the maximal satisfaction out of a very small portion of food - as well as prevent painful blockages that can be caused by big chunks of undigested food.

Drink 6-8 cups of non-caloric beverages/day (48-64 oz)

Water is the best choice to hydrate yourself with, but if you need more variety, it's ok to have calorie-free, caffeine free beverages:

  • water
  • decaf diet ice tea
  • Crystal Light
  • diet Gatorade
  • diet Snapple
  • decaf or herbal tea
  • decaf coffee

Liquid to Avoid:

  • regular soda pop
  • high calorie coffee drinks like frappuccinos
  • Sweetened beverages such as Hi-C, Kool-Aid, fruit juice, sweetened tea
  • milk shakes
  • alcohol

These drinks are sometimes refered to as "soft calories." That's because they go down easy, don't fill you up and can prevent weight loss.

Carbonated beverages will give you gas, but it's never been proven that carbonation stretches your pouch as once thought. So in theory, diet soda might be ok to drink. However, it's not exactly a health drink! Follow your surgeon's suggestions, as opinions vary about drinking diet soda pop.

Immediately following your surgery, you'll likely have trouble getting all the liquid you need. That's because your new "pouch" has just been formed and it's swollen! There's not room in it for much in the beginning!

Since you won't be able to drink very much at one time post surgery you'll need to sip all day long in the beginning.

Try to drink 1 oz over the course of 15 minutes. That means 4 oz per hour. Remember you need 48-64oz per day to stay hydrated, so you'll need to sip for 12-16 hours/day!

Know the signs of dehydration:

  • dry mouth
  • dark urine
  • infrequent urination
  • constipation
  • light headedness
  • fainting

Now here's the tricky part:

Your body needs you to drink 48-64 oz of fluids per day, but your bariatric surgery diet says...

Avoid eating and drinking at the same time

Eating and drinking at the same time "washes" food out of your pouch and leaves you not feeling full. (And isn't that the feeling that got you into this mess in the first place???)

The general guideline is no liquids 20-30 minutes before and after solid foods!

Bariatric Surgery Diet: Foods to Avoid

Simple/"Junky" Carbohydrates:

  • white bread
  • white rice
  • white pasta
  • sweets
  • chips
  • pretzels
  • candy/ice cream

These foods provide excess calories that will make weight loss almost impossible, and the sugary ones can cause "dumping syndrome" if you've had gastric bypass.

Dumping syndrome occurs when the undigested contents of your stomach are transported or "dumped" into your small intestine too rapidly. Common symptoms include abdominal cramps and nausea.

Lactose intolerance may also be a problem following the the gastric bypass. You can generally try to reintroduce dairy products a few weeks after your surgery. However, follow your doctor's specific advice.

In general, consuming high calorie, high fat and high sugar foods and/or drinks on a regular basis will minimize the effectiveness of your weight loss surgery.

Post Bariatric Surgery Diet: Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation

Depending on which surgery you've had, you may or may not need vitamin/mineral supplementation. Consult your doctor.

And finally...

Keep a food journal

This will help you monitor your progress and make it easier to review with your dietitian.

Have you not yet had your surgery? Read up on the pre bariatric surgery diet.

Did you know that with weight loss surgery, how you eat is as important as what you eat? Read up!

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