Weight Loss Surgery Diet – What to Eat

One of the most common questions pre-op patients have prior to bariatric surgery is what their weight loss surgery diet will be like post-op. Odds are, you’ve heard or read all sorts of information specific to the procedure you’re considering, whether it’s a Lap-Band, gastric bypass, gastric sleeve or other form of weight loss surgery. Everyone talks about “taking care of your pouch” and tricks to sneak in sufficient nutrients. Although your doctor will be your best source of advice, here is a quick overview of what to eat after weight loss surgery.

Use the Tools

Weight loss surgery dietThe shiniest, most practical hammer in the world cannot build a beautiful home without a dedicated carpenter. In the same way, while weight loss surgery is an amazing tool, the surgery alone will not produce dramatic results. You must be willing to commit to a new way of eating. Not surprisingly, the foods you choose will be different, as will the portion sizes. But, the new way of eating may also require you to eat at different meal times or focus more on nutritional intake than you did before surgery.

Many patients find that the first weeks following weight loss surgery are the easiest. For psychological and physical reasons, they are less inclined to want to indulge in large meal. Which is good, because you will first be put on a liquid diet, then a pureed diet. This gives your stomach time to recover from the surgery — regardless of the procedure — while providing necessary nutrition. Generally, after 4 to 6 weeks, you can begin your “normal,” post operative diet.

The diet isn’t difficult, but it is dramatically different from what most patients are used to eating prior to surgery.

Wonderful Simplicity
Although the details will vary depending on the type of surgery you have, there are really only four rules concerning what to eat after weight loss surgery.

1. Avoid High Fat Foods and Sugar. Obviously, the goal is to lose weight — so why would you continue to consume high-calorie foods? With the Lap-Band and gastric sleeve, saying no to sweet treats takes some willpower. With gastric bypass surgery, your body just plain won’t let you indulge. Eating fried foods or foods with a high sugar content can result in “dumping” syndrome. Symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, often within minutes of consuming anything high in fat or sugar.

2. Eat Small Portions. Meal and snack sizes post surgery are usually about three bites. But don’t worry about feeling hungry, because your stomach will be reduced from about the size of two fists to a small pouch that is “full” with only a few ounces of food. Regularly eating more than a few bites can “stretch” the pouch over time, and undo the results of the surgery. So, listen to your body’s cues for when you feel full, and don’t push it.

3. Chew Food Thoroughly. Food should be chewed to a consistency of puree, or applesauce. This can help your body absorb as much nutrition as possible, especially if you have had a gastric bypass procedure. Prior to surgery, your full-size stomach had “churning” capacity, which helped break down the foods you ate into a kind of paste the body could use. Once the stomach is reduced to a small pouch, you have to make sure the food is as close to that state as possible before swallowing. At first, you may even want to “go overboard” by chewing each bite 20 times, just to be very conscious of the process.

4. Drink Lots of Water, But Not with Meals. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day will help you feel full between meals and keep your body hydrated. However, you should sip all liquids throughout the day, and not drink anything for 30 minutes before and after meals or snacks. Drinking a beverage during a meal has two negative effects. First, you might be washing down more food than you should eat, overriding the function of your new, smaller stomach pouch. And second, water and other liquids can take up valuable space needed for nutrition, making you feel full before you have eaten enough to get the vitamins and minerals you needed for energy, strength and health.

Your doctor will give you specific instructions for your weight loss surgery diet, and heading your surgeon’s advice can ensure that you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. But, if you’re ever in a pickle, these four guidelines can help you get the maximum results from weight loss surgery.

10 Responses

  1. Heather Carlton

    Good fundamental info. Thank you for breaking it down into 4 simple guidelines. I know this will help with my food decision making. Thank you

  2. diane rhodes

    gained 60 lbs. back-need helpto lose it again-is it to late

  3. Loretta

    I am wondering when I see pictures of people having lost 100 pounds plus-why is your chin, neck, and arms not saggy and bagging? Thanks! I will eventually be having the Gastric Sleeve? Thank you! Discouraging with the lady who gained back 40 pounds-hope not. Thanks again!

  4. Debbi

    I’m post op almost 3 years. This surgery is just a tool that killed the hunger beast that helps me better control the occasional craving so I can make better choices. I always want to remember the process I went through to be where I am now.

  5. vicki

    It’s been 5 years since my gastric bypas surgery and have gained back about 25 pounds due to bad eating habits. What’s the best way to get back on track. 3 meals / no snacking or 5 mini meals? Is it possible to have dumping symptoms even if you eat to much of the right food? IE : protein/veggies

  6. Dan

    I have not had my gastric bypass, but I would think that if you cut down on the size of you meals and get out and walk and stop cheating you should lose the weight,right?

  7. Deb

    I am 3 years out and having problems for about 6 months. everything was laid out clearly before surgery, and the 10-12 weeks after surgery. but I feel like I am floudering, not really somehow knowing what to eat, how to eat. I feel like I am out here alone dealing with this. ANy suggestions when I go to the monthly meetings they are all about helping those pre surgery and the few weeks afterwards. what about the rest of us I feel like I am back wehre I was when I use to loose 30 pounds on a calorie count diet and then gain in back. not enough help to get on with the rest of our lives.

  8. Jennifer

    I am 3 years post-op, I have also gained back about 40 lbs of what I originally lost. I am now working with a friend on a new eating/exercise plan, they are giving me moral support and encouragement to continue with it. It is basically a mind over matter situation – you have to control your urges and maintain control. If you feel like eating something – get out and go for a walk, or do some laundry, anything to stop feeling like you want to eat. Eat very small meals about 5 times a day – don’t think breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks – just eat a small meal in the morning, have a snack mid morning, have a small meal at noontime, afternoon snack and a small meal in early evening. Do not eat anything after 8 pm at night, and get lots of sleep – at least 8 hours, that helps with the weight loss. You also have to up your exercise regime as well, because once the initial weight comes off, it is so hard to lose the rest and you are basically on your own unless you can find someone who can support and help you. I hope the pouch shrinks back down again after it stretches…I would love to be back to where I was just after post op – never feeling hungry, that was the best feeling in the world. Now I feel hungry all the time, and I have to fight it.

  9. tommy

    well i’m 29 days post op i am doing about ever thing by the book but the weight ain’t “falling off” like ever body said it would.my wife and family things i’m doing good, i just dont see it,but 38 lbs in 23 days. the hardest thing i have found to do is drinking water and now i’m have trouble find stuff i like for breakfast i eat about 1/2 an egg w/cheese. i use to like some of the sweeteners before but cannot stand them now. i’m from the the south where i grew up on “sweet tea” & learn to like splenda & stevia but not since my surgery. i use to like the water flavorers but that changed too