Healthy Eating after Bariatric Surgery

Many questions arise as a patient contemplates bariatric surgery. What will life be life after surgery? What can I eat? How will my diet change? How much can I eat? These are all common questions. As you go through the process of preparing for surgery and recovering after surgery, many more questions will arise.

The surgery is just one step in your journey. Living a new healthy lifestyle after surgery will help you succeed in losing weight and becoming healthier for the long term. Your eating habits will absolutely need to change following surgery. You will not be able to eat the same types or amounts of foods as before surgery.

Immediately following surgery, the stomach will need time to heal and adjust to your new way of life. Your medical team will help you develop a diet that will work for you. Initially, it will take time to heal and become accustom to your smaller stomach. After surgery, you will start with a liquid diet bringing in some semisolid foods as you go. This can include broth, unsweetened juices, milk, cream soup and sugar-free gelatin. You will want to sip slowly, only taking in three to four ounces at a time.

As the medical team determines that you are able to keep these foods down, they will move you to soft foods. Foods like lean ground meats, beans, fish, egg whites, yogurt and soft fruits and veggies will be introduced. It will be important to keep these foods moist. Utilizing marinades, marinara sauces, low fat gravy, salsas, ketchup and broths will be helpful.

At your post-operative appointment with your registered dietitian (three to four weeks after surgery) you will be given the okay to slowly proceed eating solid foods. It is during this transition when you will initiate the behaviors that you worked on before surgery i.e. taking small bites; chewing well and pushing food away when you feel full. You will also have to make sure not to drink liquids with your meals.

‘Normal’ eating after bariatric surgery means making sure your meals are based around protein. Ideally you will be taking four bites of protein for every bite of a side dish. For example, for breakfast you could have a one-egg omelet with veggies, cheese and a slice of whole wheat toast. You would focus on the egg, cheese and vegetables and most likely only have one-quarter to one-half of the toast. As you move on to eating a more ‘normal’ diet, you will always need to be conscious of the types of foods you put into your body. Even within the months of following surgery, the body has a hard time digesting foods such as pasta, rice, popcorn, tough meats or breads. Highly fatty or sugary foods are not okay as the body will often reject these foods. Many doctors will discourage drinking caffeine drinks or alcohol.

Taking the appropriate steps to lose weight safety with bariatric surgery doesn’t end after the surgery is completed. The overall process is challenging and will change the way you view and eat foods the rest of your life.

If you would like to learn more about bariatric surgery and whether it is right for you, contact the Hallmark Health System’s Center for Weight Management and Weight Loss Surgery today.

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