Postoperative Diet Guide

Now that you’ve had weight-loss surgery, you’ve taken a big step towards looking good, feeling good and getting healthy. However, before you can shed the pounds you’ll need to recover from your surgical procedure and familiarize yourself with your new post-surgery diet.

Michelle Mallory, Registered Dietician at Surgical Weight Control Center, discusses your nutrition needs for after surgery. 

After receiving gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy or gastric band surgery, you’ll now feel full after eating less due to the reduced size of your stomach. We recommend a specific diet regimen that can help you heal after surgery. This diet will start while you’re in the hospital and continue for several weeks.

It’s important to follow your postoperative diet after surgery recommendations in order, as diverting from this plan can cause negative side effects such as vomiting, nausea, hair loss, depression, or even weight gain.

The steps below detail the kind of food you should eat and what type of food to avoid. Your commitment to each diet and your physician’s recommendations determine how long you’ll stay on a particular step. The timeframes we provide are estimates. Follow each diet in combination with the steps described in the postoperative nutrition guide.

Following your surgery, most patients can begin a clear liquid diet that is made up of non-carbonated, non-caffeinated, sugar free liquids that you should sip slowly. A clear liquid diet may include:

  • Water
  • Ice chips
  • Sugar-free popsicles
  • Sugar-free drinks
  • Crystal Light®
  • Sugar-free Jell-O®
  • Decaffeinated or herbal tea
  • Low sodium broths or thin soups

During the healing process and to avoid vomiting or feelings of nausea, remember to sip all liquids instead of gulping or chugging them. If you feel any pain and/or discomfort, stop and wait until it passes before drinking more fluids.

It is important to listen to your body and stop when you feel full. Don’t force yourself to finish everything in front of you.

The day after your surgery and while you are still in the hospital, you will continue with a liquid diet but you should be able to tolerate a minimum of four ounces of liquid per hour. We recommend measuring all portions before drinking and using small utensils to force yourself to take smaller sips. In addition to clear liquids, you will now be able to eat:

  • Protein shakes that are low sugar and low fat
  • Nonfat or 1% milk
  • Lactaid milk (low fat or fat free)
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Protein powder added to the above fluids
  • Plain nonfat yogurt
  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt

At this point, your body will need the correct amount of nutrients to remain healthy. Make sure you include one high-protein food, such as milk, whey protein or yogurt, with every meal and avoid eating foods with more than five grams of sugar. Reading food labels can help you identify the right kind of food to eat.

Starting on the 15th day after your surgery, you will be able to begin including soft, solid foods into your diet. Keep portions small and eat three meals per day. You’ll be able to add ground and/or shredded lean meat but avoid raw fruits and vegetables as these will be hard for your body to digest.

You should eat slowly and dedicate 20 to 30 minutes to each meal. Focus on the meal you’re eating and block out any distractions, such as television or Internet. Doing so will help you concentrate on chewing and will make it easier to realize when you are full and should stop eating.

If at any time during the meal you feel nauseated, stop eating and rest, but don’t lie down. You should instead sit up so you can digest the food properly.

An important aspect to this diet is the way you chew your food. You will need to chew your food until it is the consistency of applesauce. This may seem like you’re over-chewing, but this technique will allow you to properly digest solid food.

You’ll need to drink at least six to eight cups of water in between meals and throughout the day, but do not drink water during your meals. As always, remember to get enough protein and take your vitamins and mineral supplements every day.

The final step of your diet is a return to regular solid foods that you can tolerate. Of course, your new normal diet will not be the same as the diet you had before surgery. Your “new you” diet will help you lose weight and keep it off. Changing your eating habits will bring you closer and closer to your ultimate weight-loss goal.

Remember to keep your portions small, chew all your food thoroughly, take your daily vitamins and mineral supplements each day and focus on foods that are high in protein. The protein supplements can help your body stay strong as you start your new exercise regimen. Add new foods to your diet slowly by trying it once and seeing how you feel after a day.

Your team at Surgical Weight Control Center wants you to participate in your new healthy lifestyle. We encourage our patients to join our support groups and find ways to find long-term success.

If you have questions regarding your diet, please call 702-313-8446.

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