The Perfect Post-Weight Loss Surgery Diet
Are you starting to plan for life after bariatric surgery? If so, you’re probably excited, maybe even nervous about all the changes coming your way. The preparation and post-surgical steps you take are just as important as the surgery itself. Sticking with a healthy post-bariatric surgery diet and exercise plan are critical elements to ensure the success of your bariatric surgery. Taking a proactive approach, collaborating with a dietitian, and getting ready for post-surgery life can contribute to a seamless transition into a healthier version of yourself.
Your New Relationship With Food
Remember, your stomach will be more than half the size it used to be and can only hold three to four ounces after surgery. Overeating can cause your stomach to stretch back out, so it’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions.
Patients who find themselves in need of bariatric surgery often have an unhealthy relationship with food. To lose weight and keep it off, a different perspective is needed to incorporate food into your new lifestyle. It’s always hard to leave old habits behind, but learning how and what to eat will be paramount to your success.
Eating After Bariatric Surgery
Especially in the early phases of your recovery from bariatric surgery, a conscious, daily effort to eat well is necessary. Listen to your care team’s specific instructions while your body is still in a fragile state, especially your stomach and small intestines. Not following their recommendations can increase your chances of developing serious complications, potentially undoing all the progress you’ve made.
Eating too quickly or eating large portions increases the chance of nausea, vomiting, and discomfort. However, taking in smaller portions over a longer period will help your new, smaller stomach adjust after the surgery. Remember, your new stomach may be up to 80% smaller than it was, so stop eating when you feel comfortably satisfied.
Your stomach and small intestines digest finely ground food better than with large chunks. Chewing your food up to 25 times per small bite will help get the food to the consistency that’s easiest on your organs. If you don’t chew your food well enough, you could start to feel uncomfortable or even have pain as your organs work harder to break down the food. Some foods are easier to grind up for a smooth consistency, while others are generally easier for your body to break down; you should focus on eating friendly foods for your post-bariatric surgery diet. Yogurt, bananas, beans, and cooked vegetables are all digested easily and can be ground up with minimal effort.
Your Post-Bariatric Surgery Diet
You’ll be consuming smaller meals, so you want to make sure you’re eating the right foods to meet your daily nutritional needs. Patients who don’t adhere to a balanced diet may develop nutritional deficiencies that can affect recovery. Deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, and calcium are not uncommon for bariatric surgery patients who don’t adhere to their diet plans. Your surgeon and dietician will help tailor your diet to your specific needs, but you should generally be following these recommendations:
- No solid foods: Do not add solid foods until your surgeon says it’s okay to do so.
- No carbonated beverages: Soda and other carbonated beverages produce gas, and when they are in your stomach, they can cause it to expand and add pressure.
- Space out liquids: You should stop drinking 15 minutes before a meal and wait at least 30 minutes after your meal to drink again.
- No straws or chewing gum: It’s recommended not to use a straw to sip beverages or to chew gum. They can increase the amount of air you swallow, causing pain and discomfort in your stomach.
Your dietician will likely give you a day-by-day or phase-by-phase plan on what you should eat. For the best diet after weight loss surgery, you’ll likely be placed on a nutrition plan high in protein to help your body heal after the surgery. Soft and easily digestible food will help make your recovery a more comfortable experience.
Phases of the Healing Process
The importance of listening to your bariatric surgery team and following their direction through the healing process can’t be stressed enough. For your surgical area to heal quickly and correctly, you’ll need to follow post-op diet recommendations.
You’ll go into great detail about your diet after weight loss surgery with your surgeon and dietician when planning your procedure, but here are some of the basic phases of recovery and how your diet will change.
Phase 1, Day 1–7: Clear Liquids
During phase one, right after your surgery, it’s important that you only consume clear liquids. Do not drink milk, dairy, coffee, and carbonated drinks during this first phase, as these beverages could complicate your recovery. Clear liquids, such as water, broth (non-fat), or Gatorade, allow time for your digestive system to heal.
Phase 2, Day 8–14: Full (Thick) Liquids
In the second phase, you’ll be able to incorporate full (thick) liquids back into your diet. The thicker liquid should be higher in nutrients and calories. You’ll want to start measuring and tracking how much protein you consume daily to speed up your recovery. Milk is allowed in phase two and is a great way to make protein drinks with supplements to make sure you meet the daily protein requirements.
Phase 3, Day 15–21: Blended Diet
You will continue to add texture to your meals in phase three. A blended/pureed diet will continue to increase the nutritional value of your meals while slowly reintroducing solid foods into your digestive system. It’s important to chew all of your food thoroughly. If the food isn’t chewed enough, you may feel nauseous or develop other complications.
Phase 4, Day 22+: Normal Foods
In your last phase, you will begin to slowly transition to normal foods again. Start with softer foods, then add more solid foods, paying attention to what your body tells you. Start by incorporating fruit chunks into your yogurt and eating steamed vegetables and proteins like lentils or fish as a solid food option that’s easy on your body. You should still be eating slowly and chewing your food to a fine consistency, like applesauce. Avoid any greasy or fried foods during this phase. Making smart, healthy choices and closely following these directions will help you avoid compromising your progress.
Other Post-Weight Loss Surgery Diet Best Practices
At ALO Bariatrics, your surgeon and experienced nutritionist will give you a step-by-step guide for your diet before, during, and after your weight loss surgery for a continuous, more personalized approach to your care. You can read up on some of the top ten foods after bariatric surgery and follow these general principles to speed up your recovery.
- Add protein: Good proteins should be a part of every meal. Protein helps support a healthy immune system, builds muscle, and allows your body to heal faster. Lean proteins, including fish, poultry, and eggs, should be enjoyed often.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking water before your meal can help make you feel fuller after eating less food. Hydration also promotes circulation, which is necessary to move nutrients to the tissues that need them and is an important component of healing.
- Eliminate high-fat foods: Foods that are high in fat can cause nausea or diarrhea and can make you feel uncomfortable. High-fat foods can also contribute to dumping syndrome in some patients.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks: Food and drink options with a lot of sugar or carbohydrates are loaded with calories and can also increase dumping syndrome.
- Take your time: Eating a meal should take you at least 20 minutes. There’s no need to rush!
Click here to see a more thorough guide for postoperative bariatric surgery diet recommendations.
Explore Weight Loss Surgery With ALO Bariatrics
ALO Bariatrics offers multiple minimally invasive bariatric surgery options from three beautiful locations in Mexico. Whether you’re interested in gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or another form of bariatric surgery, ALO Bariatrics has the experience to help you in your weight loss journey.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation with some of the best surgeons and nutritionists in healthcare and start your weight loss journey with ALO Bariatrics.