What Can You Eat After Weight Loss Surgery?

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Posted: November 26th, 2019
what to eat after bariatric surgery

Knowing what to eat after weight loss surgery can be tricky. While in many ways you can return to a normal diet, it’s important to keep these recommendations in mind.

Weight loss surgery changes your relationship with food, helping you safely lose a significant amount of weight in a short time. To fully experience the benefits of the treatment, it’s important to maintain healthy eating habits both before and after your procedure. 

For many patients, this can be a challenge. Emotional eaters might still have cravings after surgery, and it can be hard to unlearn these behaviors. You might also be surprised to discover that under-eating after surgery is just as common as over-eating. People who’ve had bariatric surgery can develop malnutrition because they’re not consuming enough nutrient-dense foods. 

With these concerns in mind, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to your post-surgery diet. Here are our tips for eating well, staying full, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle after weight loss surgery. 

Your Pre-Surgery Diet

To be a viable candidate for bariatric surgery you should have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40, or 35 with weight-related health problems. Many doctors also want to see that you’re able to modify your eating habits by planning and following a special diet before surgery. In addition, this pre-surgery diet reduces the fat in and around your liver, which greatly reduces the risk of complications during the procedure. 

The specifics of your pre-surgery diet will vary and should be undertaken with a doctor’s supervision. However, they will most likely include some of the following guidelines. Avoid alcohol, carbonated drinks, fruit juices from concentrate, or other beverages that are high in sugar. Practice eating balanced meals in smaller portions and stick to foods that are low in calories, fat, and sugar. Building these healthy habits now will make it easier to maintain a proper diet after you’ve lost the weight with surgery. 

As your surgery date gets closer, you’ll need to transition to a mostly-liquid or liquid-only diet. Protein shakes are a great choice during this phase because they’re easy to digest and the proteins will keep your body strong.

How To Eat Well After Surgery

After surgery, your diet will pass through four stages: liquid, pureed, soft, and stabilization or solid. At each stage of the post-surgery diet, you should be drinking 64 oz of water daily to prevent dehydration, but be sure to drink your water between meals instead of with food. Too much water with meals can stretch the stomach and cause discomfort. It’s also important to eat slowly and listen to what your body tells you. If something spicy or fried doesn’t agree with you, stay away from it.

In the liquid stage, the focus is on helping your body heal from the procedure. For the first few days, you’ll be allowed a few ounces of clear liquid at a time, but you can also have sugar-free gelatin or popsicles to add some variety. 

Next, with your doctor’s permission, you’ll move on to a pureed diet. This stage consists of foods that have a thick, pudding-like consistency like apple sauce, carrots, and scrambled eggs. V-8 juices and baby food are convenient alternatives if you’re pressed for time. Avoid fruits with lots of seeds and fibrous vegetables. 

During the third stage, you can start introducing soft, easy-to-chew foods back into your diet. These can include items like canned peaches or soft-boiled eggs.

Once you’ve reached the stabilization stage, about two months after surgery, and can start eating solid foods again, it’s still important to practice moderation. Introduce new foods slowly and cut them into small bites to accommodate your now smaller stomach. Avoid anything hard to digest like popcorn, fried foods, bread products, and carbonated beverages. After about four months you’ll be back to eating normally.

If you think bariatric surgery is right for you, contact Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors today! We’ll guide you through your pre- and post- surgery diet, so that you can experience all the benefits of your weight loss treatment. Our experienced surgeons and bariatric experts will help you get started on the path toward the new you.