Bariatric Surgery Post-op Diet
The Bariatric Surgery Post-op Diet Plan
* This information is provided as a general overview and should not be taken as medical advice and never replace the instructions of your physician.
Prior to leaving the hospital, your doctor will have given you strict instructions for your recovery and follow up care, including one of the most important elements to your weight loss success – The Bariatric Surgery Post-op Diet.
The Importance of the Bariatric Surgery Post-Op Diet
After your bariatric surgery, your ability to consume food will be limited by the reduced capacity of your stomach. It is extremely important that you fully understand and follow your physicians guidelines to ensure proper healing from your procedure and maintain proper dietary requirements in order to begin your weight loss journey with success.
You will have to make a few changes to your way of eating post-surgery that may stick with you for the rest of your life, such as:
Avoid Consuming Beverages While Eating
In order to avoid Gastric Dumping, the uncomfortable rapid release of undigested food into the intestine, you will have to revise the way you take beverages surrounding meal times. Your new forever “Golden Rule” will be to cease any liquid intake at least 15 minute prior to eating, and not resume liquid intake for 30-45 minutes after a meal is completed.
No Carbonated Beverages
Unfortunately, carbonated beverages aren’t compatible with those who have undergone bariatric surgery. As you consume these fizzy treats, the gas that is released expands and puts pressure on your reduced stomach. This is can cause quite a bit of discomfort.
Tolerance to Certain Foods May Change (Especially Milk)
Some weight loss surgery clients may find that they are no longer able to tolerate foods they previously had no issues with. When you begin to reintroduce foods into your new diet, we recommend that you do it one food at a time to establish whether or not you are still able to tolerate that food. One common change some may encounter is a new intolerance for milk.
Avoid Alcoholic Beverages for at Least 6 Weeks
You will need to avoid drinking any alcohol for at least 6 weeks. If you do resume alcohol, you’ll still need to abide by the No Carbonated Beverages rule.
The Five Phases of the Bariatric Surgery Post-op Diet
The bariatric surgery post-op diet is typically a 5 phase plan starting with a simple clear liquid diet immediately after surgery and slowly progressing through the different phases until you are able to tolerate a normal diet. People move through the phases at their own pace, but it typically takes approximately 5 weeks to return to normal eating.
Prior to your weight loss surgery, you may want to check out our post on Essentials for Stocking Your Pantry to have some of the required food already on-hand.
- Phase I: The Clear Liquid Diet
A clear liquid diet allows for healing time and to make sure that your body can tolerate anything by mouth. This diet usually lasts for only 1 week after your operation. This initial phase allows for a broad range of CLEAR liquids. Because this diet doe not contain sufficient nutrients, it is important to ensure you are taking your vitamin supplements.
- Clear liquids only (liquids must be completely see through.) Examples: non-sparkling water, fat-free clear broths, caffeine-free coffees and teas, apple juice, cranberry juice, grape juice, crystal light, sugar free gelatin, sugar free popsicles.
- Phase II: The Full Liquid Diet
The full liquid diet is typically begun the second week after surgery and allows your new stomach pouch and digestive system to heal properly. This diet allows for a broad range of liquids and protein supplements. It is critical at this stage to ensure you are taking in enough protein every day. At least two of your three meals should consist of a protein shake or protein supplement (such as whey protein powder) added to other foods. At this stage milk can be slowly reintroduced into the diet (if tolerated).
- Full liquids that offer a smooth consistency and texture (no chunks). Examples: protein drinks, Carnation Instant Breakfast powder, sugar free puddings, custards, and Jello, fat-free yogurt (without fruit), vegetable juices, strained or creamed soups, hot cereals prepared thin ( like Cream of Wheat, Oatmeal)
- Phase III: The Soft Food Diet
The soft food diet typically begins the third week after surgery. You will now be able to include soft foods in the form of blends or purees to your diet. Now that your food will have a slightly solid texture, it is imperative to learn to chew all of your food well (at least 25 times).
- Soft pureed or blended foods, thicker soups. Examples: lentil or vegetable soups, soft fruits, soft cooked vegetables, blended soy products (tofu), blended fish or poultry, soft eggs, and cottage cheese.
- Phase IV: The Soft Solid Food Diet
The soft solid food diet typically begins 4 weeks after surgery. Here you can select soft, moist, easily chewable food as you transition through the phase. Your meals should always begin with a high protein choice followed by vegetables, fruits, and carbohydrates to ensure you receive the most essential vitamins and nutrients. During this phase, you must also implement the “Golden Rule” of not consuming beverages 15 minutes prior to eating until at least 30-45 minutes after the meal to avoid gastric dumping.
- Soft, moist foods, some meat. Examples: eggs, mild, soft cheeses, white meat poultry, fish, tender meats, soy proteins, vegetables and fruits, cereals, whole wheat pastas and crackers, and brown rice.
- Phase V: The Normal Diet
if you have tolerated the earlier phases well you will be ready to return to normal eating at approximately 5 weeks post-surgery. Always ensure you eat your proteins first, go slowly with dense, high fiber foods and tough meat, and continue your vitamin supplements.
- Normal eating, slowly re-introducing one food at a time to ensure tolerance.
Tips for Making Your Bariatric Surgery Post-op Diet a Success
- Learn to eat slowly and chew food thoroughly (at least 25 times)
- Avoid items with large amounts of sugars, especially those in liquid form such as fruit juices, slush beverages, sweetened Jello, smoothies with ice cream or frozen yogurt, shakes or malts.
- Do not overeat! Remember the stomach can hold 3-4 ounces after surgery. You will probably feel satisfied after 2-3 tablespoons of food.
- Stop eating as soon as you feel comfortably satisfied.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 cups (8 oz.) of fluid per day to prevent dehydration.
- Eat 3 small nutrient dense meals + 1 high protein snack a day.
- Introduce new foods one at a time in order to rule out any intolerance. If a food is not tolerated, reintroduce it in 1 week.
- If you find that you aren’t tolerating dairy well, substitute Lactaid for milk. You can also try soy milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
- If you experience heartburn or acid reflux, be sure to tell your physician. This is very common and is usually treated with an over-the-counter medication such as Prilosec.
- Remember, it will take approximately 6-9 months (possibly longer) for your new stomach size to stabilize and allow you determine your normal meal amount.
It is imperative that you strictly follow the instructions of your physician in order to ensure your own health and safety. If you have any questions regarding the bariatric surgery post-op diet your physician has recommended for you, please contact your physician directly or ask for assistance from your Ready4aChange care facilitator.
Our care facilitators are here to answer any questions you may have and always keep your information confidential. If you are considering weight loss surgery, contact us today! 1-800-270-7120