What to Expect After Bariatric Surgery--the Nutrition Plan

If you are thinking about taking the critical step to improving your health with bariatric surgery, but you aren’t sure exactly where to start with your research, this blog post is for you. If you have started your reading on the topic, you have probably already noticed there is so much information online and a lot of it is confusing. Below you will find a simple snapshot of what to expect out of the nutrition phases immediately following the surgery.

Post-surgery, your nutrition plan will progress through different stages. The length of each stage and approved food and drinks for each stage will be determined by your doctor or dietitian. It is imperative to stick to your nutrition plan for safe and speedy recovery, establishment of your new lifestyle habits, and to consume the proper amount of calories for your newly fitted stomach.

 

In the Hospital: Slowly sip on fluids provided and follow the doctor’s protocol.

 

Stage one: Liquid diet

Your nutrition plan in stage on is geared towards assisting your body with recovering from surgery. A proper diet will help you avoid postoperative complications. For the first few days, your doctor will give very specific guidelines which include only drinking a few ounces of clear liquids at a time. This will help with the healing of your stomach as it will not be stretched out by food or large volumes of liquids. Once you have graduated beyond clear liquids, you will be allowed to have the following: 

-protein shakes

-decaffeinated coffee and tea

-skim milk

-thin soup and broth

-unsweetened juice

-sugar-free gelatin

-sugar-free popsicles

 

Stage two: Pureed diet

You will be ready to move on to stage two once your doctor approves, and this stage includes pureed foods that have a pudding-like consistency. Fortunately, you will have variety as many foods can be pureed with a blender or food processor. You will want to avoid things that may irritate the stomach--spicy seasonings, fruits with lots of seeds, and extremely fibrous foods such as broccoli and cauliflower.

Foods that can be pureed easily are applesauce, bananas, canned fruits, peaches, apricots, pears, pineapples, melons, tomato juice, spinach, carrots, summer squash, green beans, yogurt, white fish, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, beef, chicken, turkey, and scrambled eggs. Another good and convenient option to keep in mind is V-8 juice, as well as first-stage baby foods which do not have any solids. An added caution, please note that it is important to NOT drink fluids as you eat your pureed foods.

Stage three: Soft diet

Most likely, you will stick to pureed foods and liquids for several weeks. Once your doctors agrees that your stomach is ready, you can start adding soft and easy-to-chew foods into your daily nutrition plan. Some examples of soft foods are soft-boiled eggs, cooked white fish, canned fruits, and ground meet. It is important to note that small bites, eating slowly, and controlling portions are critical components of this stage.

Stage four: Stabilization

The last stage of the bariatric surgery diet incorporates the reintroduction of other sold foods. This stage will begin under the advisement of your doctor or nutritionist and typically starts around two months after surgery. Keep in mind, you will still need to chop your food into small pieces since your new stomach is much smaller. Blockages which may lead to pain, nausea, and vomiting can be caused by large pieces of food.

It is also important to introduce foods slowly so you can pin-point which ones you can tolerate, as well as ones that should be avoided. Immediately eliminate any food that causes abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.

As a general guideline, there are foods that are hard to digest and so they should not be attempted at this point. Some examples of these foods include: 

-Fried foods

-Tough meats

-Popcorn

-Fibrous vegetables

-Carbonated beverages

-Corn on the cob

-Hard and crunchy foods such as pretzels or nuts

-Dried fruit

-Bread and any bread products such as muffins or donuts.

Some people may be able to resume eating normally around four months after surgery, however, portion control will be imperative at this point. In addition, your nutrition plan should consist mostly of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats and carbohydrates. Avoid unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, bad fats, calories, and carbohydrates. Following a healthy nutrition plan will result in continued health, weight loss, and increased energy. In addition to eating healthy foods, these general guidelines for your postoperative diet will also assist you throughout your bariatric surgery journey. They include:

-Exercise portion control.

-Listen to your body--if a food makes you feel pain or nausea, do not continue eating that food.

-Eat and drink slowly.

-Avoid sugar.

-Enjoy beverages between meals, but not during meals.

-Drink enough fluids to keep hydrated.

-Eat small pieces of food and chew them thoroughly before swallowing.

-Take doctor-approved vitamins.

-Always follow your doctor’s orders and recommendations.

We would like to applaud you for taking this important step in researching this serious, yet potentially life-saving surgery. When stepping into the unknown, things can be a bit daunting so we hope this blog post has cleared up some confusion. If you want to see our wide variety of protein shakes that are post-surgery approved, click here!

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