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How Will I Eat Before & After Bariatric Surgery?

Written By: Emma Squillace

We’ve talked about the recovery process after bariatric surgery, from exercise to scars – but one of our most frequently asked questions is “what will I be eating after surgery?” Today we’ll help you understand what types of food you’ll eat right after surgery, as well as the reasons behind those food choices. We’ll also start with what foods you’ll eat before surgery, because that’s an important part of the process as well.

Surgery Prep

You know there will be changes to how eat after bariatric surgery, but you may not know that we ask our patient to go on a specific diet leading up to surgery as well. This is primarily because we want you to lose weight that will shrink your liver. You probably don’t even think about your liver when you consider bariatric surgery, but the liver can play a big role. Your stomach is located close to your liver, so in order to perform bariatric surgery, we need to move the liver out of the way during the procedure. Your liver is likely larger than you think, so the safest way for us to move your liver out of the way is to have it be smaller than it is now. A large liver increases your risk of surgical complications, and this is why we ask you to follow a diet that will shrink the liver.

The diet you follow before surgery will likely be one that prioritizes high levels of lean protein, and low levels of carbs. A few days before surgery we’ll ask you to switch to an all-liquid diet. This is for your own safety and success during your bariatric procedure.

Eating right after surgery

Right after surgery you’ll be on a liquid diet. This is not specifically because of weight loss, but because your insides need a chance to heal from surgery. Whether you have a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, your stomach will need to recover from the cutting and stapling we’ve done. Even with the lap band that involves no cutting of the stomach, there is a necessary adjustment and healing time. The first phase of your post-surgery diet will be liquids like water, tea, jello and sugar-free popsicles. Although it sounds like it may be really hard to stay on liquids only, many patients find they feel very little hunger during the recovery phrase of their procedure.

After the initial recovery, you’ll be able to add drinks like protein powder mixed with water, applesauce thinned out, or fruit juice without added sugar. The next phase will allow you to expand into thicker liquids including protein shakes, soup with soft noodles or fat free yogurt.

Several weeks after surgery

By this point your body will be healing from surgery and most patients are ready to start adding in more solid, but soft, foods. We recommend you try foods one at a time, to give your body a chance to adjust. This will also help you find out if some foods work well for you, and maybe others are harder for you to digest. Some foods our patients generally try after several weeks include: low fat cottage cheese, protein shakes, soups, cereal that sits in milk until it’s soft, canned tuna fish with low fat mayo, and mashed bananas.

Even though vegetables are excellent in general, we’ll ask you to avoid fibrous veggies until about a month after surgery. Vegetables with a lot of fiber are harder to digest, and we want your body to have an easy time while you heal. You’ll also be asked to avoid starchy food like bread or pasta, and sugar.

More than 1 month after surgery

At this point you’ll be adding more and more foods back into your eating routine. We’ll work with you to make good food choices, and figure out meals that work well for your new lifestyle. Many patients find getting enough protein is a challenge, so you’ll want to think about easy proteins like shredded chicken breast, beans, and canned fish. Another important factor is to find snacks that you like, and are easy to grab and take with you. When you have a day that’s packed, it can be tempting to stop and get snacks at a convenience store, or eat a donut at work. Instead, bring healthy snacks with you like almonds, string cheese, or individual packs of hummus with carrot sticks.

In terms of behaviors, our most successful patients tell us they chew very thoroughly, eat slowly, and drink plenty of water. Remember, our team is always here to support you to don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Whether you’re our patient who’s a few weeks out from your surgery, or you’re just starting to wonder if bariatric surgery is right for you – our expert team is available to support you. If you’d like to come in and talk to us more about weight loss and bariatric surgery, please give us a call at (855) 690-0565.

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