Weight Loss Surgery Diet Guide

Weight loss surgery will require you to make many life-changing adjustments both before and after surgery, especially in the areas of diet and nutrition. Bariatric patients will need to learn about the nutritional requirements and dietary changes that are necessary both before and after weight loss surgery. Talking to your bariatric surgeon or dietitian about dietary changes and nutritional guidelines is a very important part of the bariatric process.

Your diet should have changed before your surgery to help you get into the habit of eating less and eating healthy. But immediately after your surgery, your eating habits and patterns will be drastically changed – a change that will have an enormous impact on your life. It will take about 9-11 weeks for you to progress to solid foods. All along you will choose low sugar, low fat foods and drinks. One of the most recommended post-operative diets include a four-tiered diet plan to help cope with the enormous physical change on your internal organs.

Healthy Food Choices

The diet after weight loss surgery will primarily consist of low-fat proteins (lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and fish) and fruits and vegetables. Your doctor will provide you with a list of foods that can be eaten after surgery, including healthy protein choices, healthy carbohydrates, and heart-healthy fats. It is important to consume a sufficient amount of protein to help maintain muscle and burn fat, and to choose lean protein foods because they are lower in calories. If you are unsure about the protein sources along with other nutrients, this quiz explains what vitamins you should be taking along with other nutrients. Since you are only eating a small amount of food, it is important to choose foods that are healthy.

Eating Habits & Behaviors

After surgery, how you eat will change just as much as what you eat. Your stomach will only be able to hold a small amount of food at any one time and your digestion process has been changed.

  1. Meal portions must be small, you must eat slowly, and food must be chewed thoroughly. If you eat too much, eat too fast, or don’t completely chew your food (your body is not able to break down foods that have not been chewed to a liquid consistency), it may cause nausea or vomiting.
  2. Avoid drinking liquids with meals, Liquids do not relieve hunger and may force food thru your stomach pouch too quickly. This may cause you to become hungry during the day. It may also cause dumping syndrome in gastric bypass patients. Do not drink 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after a meal.
  3. Set a time for three meals a day, and eat only at those scheduled meal times. Do not skip meals. Do not snack between meals.
  4. When you feel full, stop eating. If you overeat, not only can it cause nausea and vomiting, but it can stretch out the size of your stomach pouch. When you first start on your solid diet, you may only be able to eat 4 to 6 bites of food before you feel full. With time, you may be able to eat a half cup up to one cup of food.

Nutritional Supplements

You will need to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals for the rest of your life. Lap band patients will need to take a daily multi-vitamin supplement, whereas gastric bypass patients will need to take daily supplements including a multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamin B12, and iron for menstruating women. Protein supplements are also recommended. Protein supplements include whey protein powder, whey isolate (for lactose-intolerant), lactaid milk, soy milk and other soy products.

Drinking Water and Other Liquids

It is important to stay hydrated and drink 6-8 cups of water daily. Water must be consumed slowly, about 1-2 mouthfuls at a time. Other approved liquids include tea, sugar-free flavored drinks, and sugar-free sport drinks. Drink plenty of fluids between meals, but avoid liquids with meals. Carbonated beverages should be avoided as they may cause gas, bloating, pain, and may contribute to enlargement of the small stomach pouch. Alcohol should be avoided because of the excess calories as well as the possibility of dumping syndrome and addiction.

Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome occurs when foods enter the small intestine too quickly and causes nausea, weakness, abdominal cramping, headache, sweating, faintness, and eventually diarrhea. It may be caused by eating sweets, fried foods, fatty foods, greasy foods, eating too much at one meal, or drinking fluids with meals. Depending on how you view this effect, dumping syndrome can be considered both an advantage or disadvantage of gastric bypass surgery. Lap band patients do not experience dumping syndrome.

Foods to Avoid

It is important to avoid sugary foods (candy, ice-cream, cookies, cakes, syrups), high-fat foods (chips, fried foods, sausage, cream soups, sauces, gravies, margarine, mayonnaise, junk food), fibrous foods (asparagus, pineapple, rhubarb, oranges, dried fruit), and other problematic foods (tough or overcooked meats, doughy breads, pasta, rice, skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables, nuts and popcorn).

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