February 23rd, 2023
You just had bariatric surgery and are home from the hospital - now what?
Before surgery and as you were getting discharged, you were given detailed instructions on what to do for your bariatric diet until you are seen in your surgeon's office again. However, many patients find themselves overwhelmed with information and still unsure where to start on their bariatric diet after surgery.
Now is the time that all the healthy eating habits and practiced behaviors of eating slowly, taking small sips, staying hydrated, and focusing on protein intake become real.
One of the most important things after any surgery is hydration. Dehydration can happen very easily after weight loss surgery for several reasons.
One-third of all post-op emergency room visits are related to dehydration1. The ASMBS recommends that bariatric patients consume enough fluids throughout the day to maintain adequate hydration (at least 1.5L per day2).
Throughout your entire post-op experience, make sure you are taking small sips of fluids all day. You can even play around with the temperature of your fluids to help you increase your intake.
Something else to keep in mind is the amount of caffeine you are consuming4. Caffeine acts as diuretic in the body, therefore increasing the amount fluid you are losing through urination4. This can quickly lead to dehydration. To ensure hydration throughout your post-bariatric surgery experience, set reminders of when to drink fluids and swap out that morning coffee/tea for a decaf option instead.
Typically, you will follow a specific diet progression for the first 6 weeks that will take you from liquids to solids slowly. The progression is needed to promote hydration, reduce nausea/vomiting, reduce complications, and allow you to get comfortable with behavioral changes3.
When it comes to the diet stages and length of each stage, you’ll find that every surgeon will have their own preferences, and it's important to follow their guidelines.
Following are some bariatric diet stages you might find. If you are ever unsure what to do, call your surgeon’s office to clarify instructions.
A clear liquid diet consists of liquids that are see-through. This is what you will most likely find yourself on while in the hospital. The most important fluid is water, but you may also be allowed to drink some decaf tea (iced or hot), sugar-free Jell-O, decaf black coffee, sugar-free popsicles, Crystal Light, low-calorie sports drinks, clear protein shakes, and broths.
A full liquid diet will include beverages that are thin enough to drink through a straw, but do not have to be see-through anymore. This can include meal replacement shakes, milks, strained cream soups, and thin yogurts.
Pureed foods should be the consistency of baby food. Some commonly allowed foods are soft scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, canned fruits in water, mashed up vegetables, and ricotta cheese. Other solid foods such as ground meats may also be consumed when blended with liquids until appropriate consistency4. Common liquids used to blend solid foods include broths, milk, sugar-free fruit juice, and water4.
During this stage, foods should be small, soft, and easy to chew4. Foods should be chewed thoroughly until they are pureed in consistency4. You should be able to start adding in soft, flakey fish, cooked vegetables, skinless fruits, rice, cooked cereal, and sweet potatoes4.
Solid food is the final stage. This is where you will start focusing on your well-balanced meals with solid proteins.
Solid proteins will include foods you need to cut with a knife, like chicken. You can also start to slowly add in fibrous fruits and vegetables. It’s helpful to add one new food at a time and listen to your body as you go.
Some common foods that patients have found to be problematic at this stage include breads, carbonated drinks, red meats, spicy foods, fried foods, and popcorn4.
Remember that although these foods may be problematic for some, they won’t be problematic for all. Everyone is different. Just continue to reintroduce new foods one at a time and before long you’ll be back to feeling more like yourself!
Visit Celebrate's Recipe Blog for plenty of healthy, mouthwatering ideas.
Each day after your bariatric surgery, you will feel more and more like yourself. No matter how great you’re feeling, follow your diet progression as instructed by your bariatric surgeon, as this will allow you long-term success.
1. Dagan, Shiri Sherf, et al. “Nutritional Recommendations for Adult Bariatric Surgery Patients: Clinical Practice.” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, vol. 8, no. 2, 2017, pp. 382–394., doi:10.3945/an.116.014258.
2. Mechanick, Jeffrey I. “AACE/TOS/ASMBS/OMA/ASA 2019 Guidelines.” Endocrine Practice, vol. 25, no. 12, 2019, doi:10.4158/GL-2019-0406.GL.
3. Parrott, Julie M., et al. “The Optimal Nutritional Programme for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery.” Current Obesity Reports, 2020, doi:10.1007/s13679-020-00384-z.
4. Pruthi, Sandhya., et al. “Gastric bypass diet: What to eat after the surgery.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2020.
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