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Diet After Bariatric Surgery

Collection of vegetable soup including tomato, broccoli and noodle soup

After bariatric surgery, you will need to follow a specialized eating plan for several months, to ensure that your stomach heals properly. Once you have healed, you may be able to return to eating many of the foods you enjoyed before surgery, but in much smaller amounts.

It is crucial that you follow your doctor and dietitians’ guidelines carefully, in order to avoid complications and uncomfortable side effects. As you lose weight swiftly, you will need sufficient nutrition to prevent losing muscle mass, stay hydrated and to decrease hair loss.

First Stage: Liquid Only

Immediately after surgery, you will not eat anything for about two days while your stomach starts to heal. In the hospital, your doctor will start you on liquids and thick liquids to see how well you can handle them.

Second Stage: Thick Liquids And Pureed Foods

For two to three weeks after returning home from the hospital, your doctor will likely prescribe a diet of high-protein liquid nutrition supplements, or high-protein pureed foods.

These foods must be pureed to a very fine consistency. You will need to follow a strict schedule that involves drinking your pureed foods in small amounts at set intervals. It is also important during this phase to stay hydrated, by drinking adequate amounts of water and other low-calorie clear liquids like broth or diluted juice. Be careful, however, to not drink them at the same time that you take your pureed food.

Third Stage: Soft Foods

At your follow-up appointment two to three weeks after your surgery, your doctor will check to make sure that you are ready to transition to soft foods, and a dietitian will instruct you on how to add these foods little by little over the next two months.

You will continue to emphasize protein in your diet to promote healing. Recommended soft, high-protein foods for this stage include:

  • Eggs
  • Low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Soft fish, poultry and meat
  • Bean dishes and soups

You will eat tiny meals four to six times a day, and during this time, you will develop some of the habits you will need to cultivate for the rest of your life, in order to maintain your health and continue to lose weight. These habits include:

Foods that are typically not tolerated well during this stage include tough meats, untoasted bread, crunchy, high-fiber foods like raw vegetables, spicy foods and high-fat or high-sugar foods.

Fourth Stage: Return To Solid Food

By three months after surgery, most patients are ready to incorporate regular food into their diets. Because your stomach pouch will become full so quickly, you must still choose foods that have a high nutritional value, as well as take nutritional supplements prescribed by your doctor. 

Bariatric surgery is a big commitment and requires drastic dietary changes, but many patients have found that the results are more than worth it.

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