Bariatric surgery is a tool for weight loss that must be coupled with ongoing lifestyle changes, including an appropriate nutrition program if you hope to achieve lifelong success. Be prepared to make significant changes to your eating habits to avoid food intolerance, “dumping syndrome” and other complications.
Diet Progression After Weight Loss Surgery
Your body needs to heal after surgery, so initially, you’ll go on a liquid protein diet to meet your fluid and protein requirements. The further out you get from surgery, the more variety you can add to your diet, but you will always need to avoid empty calories.
What to Include in Your Diet After Bariatric Surgery
A registered dietician will work with you to formulate a specific nutrition program tailored to your needs. Here are the types of foods you can expect to eat after having bariatric surgery:
- Protein (eggs, chicken, fish, legumes, tofu)
- Fruit in moderation
- Liquids between meals (water, skim milk, broth, sugar-free herbal tea and other zero-calorie, caffeine-free drinks)
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
Foods to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery
Your body’s ability to absorb calories and nutrients is minimized after having weight loss surgery, so it’s essential to consume food that offers the highest nutritional value possible. Your goal is to get the maximum amount of nutrition from a minimal amount of food. Here’s what your dietician will tell you to avoid after bariatric surgery:
- Added fat (butter, cream, oil)
- Added sugar (honey, syrup, candy, ice cream)
- Carbohydrates (white bread and rice)
- High-calorie drinks (milkshakes, soda, fruit juice, and beer)
Other Tips for Eating After Bariatric Surgery
You’ll need to pay attention to how, when and what you eat following your weight loss procedure. Here are some tips to aid your success:
- Eat three meals a day consisting of one to two ounces of protein and a small serving of vegetables.
- Drink at least seven cups of zero-calorie, non-carbonated liquid per day, but only between meals.
- Introduce new foods slowly to test the tolerance of your new digestive system.
- Chew each bite 20 times before swallowing, and sip drinks slowly to avoid filling your small stomach too quickly.
- If you have trouble keeping food down, try eating soft or blended items.
- Stop eating as soon as you feel full to avoid nausea and vomiting.
At Garden State Bariatrics and Wellness Center in New Jersey, we offer an in-house nutritional counseling program for pre- and post-bariatric surgery patients. Our registered dieticians are specially trained in bariatric nutrition counseling and will provide ongoing support as you adjust to your new way of eating.