Post Bariatric Surgery Diet
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Post Bariatric Surgery Diet

Post Bariatric Surgery Diet

After your weight-loss surgery has been completed, you will be placed on a temporary post-operative diet and be provided with detailed eating and drinking instructions. Please follow these instructions carefully, as they are designed to help your body heal completely and to keep your new gastric band properly positioned. The healing process will usually take one month or longer.

Helpful tips to keep in mind during your recovery and beyond:

  • Drink at least 8 cups (8 ounces each) per day to prevent dehydration
  • Stop drinking liquids 30-45 minutes before meals and resume 30-45 minutes after meals
  • Eat slowly! Eat each meal over 20-30 minutes
  • Chew slowly and thoroughly (at least 25 times)
  • Be sure to take the supplements recommended by your physician and dietitian. Set up a schedule for supplements and medications
  • Avoid concentrated sugars (sodas, sweetened drinks, candies, cakes, cookies, pastries, chocolate milk, etc.)
  • Limit fats in the diet; they can lead to nausea and weight gain
  • Stop eating when you feel comfortably satisfied
  • Remember, your stomach will only be able to hold a few tablespoons after surgery. It will eventually be able to hold about ½ cup
  • You may not tolerate dairy after the surgery due to lactose intolerance. You can use Lactaid milk or lactase pills with dairy to help digest the lactose
  • Structure your meals so they include protein first, then fruits and vegetables, then whole grains
  • Introduce new foods one at a time to make sure that you tolerate the food well

Phase I: Clear liquid diet

Follow for 5 days after your surgery, or as directed by your surgeon.

A clear liquid diet consists of only food or beverages made from liquids that you can see through. These foods/beverages should have no added sugar or be sugar-free.

Suggested amount: 2-4 ounces of fluid per hour

Goal: 64 ounces (8 cups) of fluid per day

Foods for phase I:

  • Water/ice chips
  • Clear fruit juices (grape juice, apple juice) with no added sugar, diluted by half with water (avoid citrus fruits for the first few weeks)
  • Sugar-free gelatin
  • Sugar-free popsicles
  • Fat-free broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
  • Unsweetened decaffeinated tea or iced tea
  • Water mixed with sugar-free powdered drink mixes (Crystal Light)
  • Non-carbonated flavored waters
  • Clear protein drink supplements (see supplement sheet for suggestions)

Phase II: Full-liquid diet

Begin on day 6 after your surgery

A full liquid diet includes clear liquids plus milk-based liquids and some other foods listed below. Everything you eat or drink in this phase should have a consistency thin enough to pass through a funnel. Also, begin to take your prescribed multi-vitamin and supplements as directed by your surgeon.

Suggested Amount: 3-4 ounces at a time, over 20-30 minutes, three meals daily with a protein supplement between meals. Be sure to eat and drink slowly since you are still healing.

Goal: Eat three meals daily with a protein supplement between meals. Be sure to eat and drink slowly since you are still healing. Continue to drink at least 64 ounces (8 cups) of fluid per day and continue protein supplements between meals.

Foods for phase II:

  • Skim milk/Skim Plus milk
  • Lactaid fat-free milk
  • Light soy milk
  • Blended broth based soups (low-fat)
  • Strained cream soups (low-fat, made with Skim Plus milk)
  • Fat-free, sugar-free puddings (made with Skim Plus milk)
  • Non-fat, plain or light, no sugar-added yogurt, blended without fruit
  • Thinned hot cereal (2-3 ounces, plain oatmeal, Farina, Cream of Wheat, grits)
  • Protein supplement mixed with skim milk or Skim Plus milk

Tip: You can add 2 tablespoons of non-fat dry milk powder to ½ cup of skim milk to increase protein intake. You can also add non-fat dry milk powder to soups, hot cereal, and other thick liquids.

Keep in mind the following helpful tips:

  • Do not use straws or gulp liquids
  • Stop eating when you feel full
  • Always eat protein foods first at meals

Phase III: Soft diet

Your surgeon will let you know when to advance to a soft diet

Suggested Amount: 3-4 ounces per meal, 3 high protein, low-fat and low-sugar meals per day.

Goal: Always eat protein foods first and chew foods slowly and thoroughly. Food should be chewed so well that it should be almost liquid when you swallow. Eat slowly and continue to drink 64 ounces of fluid per day between meals. Do not drink for 30-45 minutes before and after meals.

Foods for phase III:

  • Cooked hot cereals (plain oatmeal, Farina, Cream of Wheat, grits) made with skim milk
  • Unsweetened/natural applesauce, pureed canned fruits (peaches, pears) in their own juices with no syrup, soft-cooked fruits with no added sugar, fruit pureed without the skin, mashed ripe banana
  • Any vegetable (except corn) cooked very soft, blended, or mashed with the back of a fork.
  • Avoid all raw vegetables.
  • Soft-cooked eggs, egg salad with low-fat mayonnaise, egg substitute, canned tuna (packed in water) made with low-fat mayonnaise, light tofu, soft-cooked fish (tilapia, sole, halibut, whiting, avoiding bones), cooked soup beans (kidney beans, lentils), lean ground meat (ground turkey breast, ground chicken), very soft/moist turkey meatloaf, boiled or stewed soft-baked poultry (very moist)
  • Low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, low-fat mild cheeses (fat-free or reduced fat mozzarella, Alpine Lace, Jarlsberg Light, Tropical Queso Fresco Lite Reduced Fat, low-fat string cheese), non-fat plain or low-sugar yogurt, sugar free puddings
  • Blended, low-fat soups (limit chunks and cream based soups), sugar-free popsicles, sugar-free Jell-O, sugar-free, fat-free frozen yogurt

Keep in mind the following helpful tips:

  • Chew food thoroughly
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after a meal to drink fluids and stop drinking 30 minutes prior to your next mealtime
  • Do not use straws or gulp liquids
  • Stop eating when you feel full
  • Always eat protein foods first at meals

Phase IV: Modified regular diet

From one month and after

Suggested Amount: 4-6 ounces per meal, three meals per day. Choose low-fat and low-sugar foods and consume protein supplements between meals.

Goal: Weight loss and healing. Continue to add new foods one at a time as you progress back to a regular consistency diet. Continue to eat protein foods first at meals and pay attention to the amount of food that you are eating and the duration of your meals (20-30 minutes per meal). Always chew food thoroughly. Consume liquids 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after meals.

The following list will act as a guide to help you add variety to your diet, with protein as your top priority.

Protein food choices

Protein is essential for wound healing post-surgery, helps the body repair muscles and tissue, and helps to maintain lean muscle mass with weight loss. Some high protein foods, like meat and beans, also provide iron, for prevention of anemia. Protein is very important after surgery. Your goal is to consume a minimum of 60-80 grams of protein per day (or as directed).

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and beneficial antioxidants. Choose two servings of fruit per day. Raw fruit skins must be chewed thoroughly and should be cut into small pieces.

  • Choose soft cooked fruits or canned fruits in light syrup or “in its own juice.” Avoid heavy syrup.
  • Eat a variety of colors to obtain a wide range of vitamins and minerals
  • Avoid starchy vegetables such as corn and white potatoes
  • Limit intake of sweet potatoes, winter squash, and pumpkin to one time per week
  • Avoid the fibrous/tough parts of fruits and vegetables (bottoms of asparagus, broccoli stalks, celery, and orange membranes)

Whole grains

Whole grains provide fiber and extra vitamins and minerals. But, you should only add whole grains to your meals after you have chosen sufficient protein!

Remember that these examples are low in protein and high in carbohydrates, so they should be limited to avoid excess calories and inadequate protein intake.

  • Toasted 100% whole wheat bread
  • High fiber cereals (Kashi, Fiber 1, Bran Flakes, All Bran, Cheerios, oatmeal)
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta and brown rice (note: these may not be tolerated right away and are not recommended for the first 3 months)


Limit intake of fats since they are high in calories and relatively low in vitamins and minerals. However, some fat is needed by the body for vitamin metabolism, increased energy, and essential fatty acid intake. Limit intake of fats to 3 servings per day.

Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and avoid saturated fats. Mono and poly- unsaturated fats are heart healthy fats that can help lower LDL, prevent abnormal heart rhythms, and prevent heart disease.

New eating habits

Once you resume eating solid foods, it will be important to monitor your diet. Liquids and soft foods will not be filling because they pass into your digestive system quickly. Throughout the course of your weight-loss treatment, it will be best to avoid high-calorie drinks, desserts, and other forms of junk food. Instead of high-calorie drinks such as regular soda, diet soda, sugary fruit drinks, and energy drinks, choose water, broth, tea, or coffee.

Chewing your food completely before swallowing is important because this habit will help you feel full and satiated even sooner. Chewing your food thoroughly will also help prevent your stomach pouch outlet from becoming blocked due to swallowing large chunks of food.

For the best weight-loss results, strive to eat just three small meals per day. Try to keep all your meals healthy and balanced by consuming lean meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and dairy products.

The importance of staying active

Exercise can often be difficult and painful when you’re carrying lots of excess weight. However, as you begin to lose weight through gastric banding, you’ll find that exercise becomes easier, more fulfilling, and far more enjoyable.

Your new goal will be to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day between three and five days per week. If you’ve just started exercising for the first time in months, or even years, you may want to start out simple by adding more physical activity to your daily routine, such as by parking your car farther away from a store, or cleaning the house more often. In time, you’ll be able to include more exercise into your life, such as aerobics, jogging or cycling.

Consult with your doctor about the exercise program you’re planning, and update your program as needed to accommodate your growing fitness level.


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