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What to Eat after Bariatric Surgery

July 4, 2013

draft_lens19361301module158336345photo_1334041423aa-It is essential to follow specific bariatric eating guidelines after bariatric weight loss surgery. Doing so will ensure that you properly heal and obtain adequate nutrition. Not following the post-bariatric surgery diet prescribed by the bariatric surgeon or dietitian is the number one reason for failure of bariatric surgery.

To get you into the habit of eating more protein, eating less and eating healthy. Immediately after your bariatric surgery, your diet should have changed before your surgery. There will be immediate and drastic changes that will affect your lifestyle for the rest of your life. It usually takes about 9-12 weeks to gradually progress to eating solid foods.

Since you now have a surgically modified stomach and intestines, you will always have to take supplements to provide vital vitamins and minerals, protein, and other nutrients that you will no longer be able to absorb. For the rest of your life, protein will be your top priority when making food choices. The minimum protein requirement for women is about 50 to 60 grams per day and men need 60 to 70 grams of protein per day. Since it is impossible to get that much protein from food alone, most patients use some kind of liquid protein supplements during the first few months, and may continue throughout their lives.

After your surgery, you will have a stomach pouch about the size of a walnut. For the first three months, you will have to follow a diet created for you, which usually follows this four-phase plan:

Clear liquid diet – Clear liquids include diluted fruit juices like apple, grape and cranberry, protein fruit drinks, broths like clear beef, chicken and vegetable broths, sugar-free gelatins and artificially sweetened non-carbonated beverages.

Full liquid diet – Full-liquids are fluids you cannot see through. They include the broth of low fat, cream bariatric soups, protein shakes and smoothies, skim milk, yogurt and diet puddings, and liquid protein supplements

Pureed diet – Pureed foods are foods with a consistency of applesauce. Pureed foods contain no pieces or chunks. Foods that just cut into small pieces are not acceptable.

Soft foods, regular diet – Soft foods should be tender and easy to chew, such as ground or finely diced meats, canned or soft fruit, cooked vegetables, rice, macaroni, noodles.

You will usually progress to eating regular food at meals after three months.  Meals will focus on lean sources of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Here are a couple of recipes from Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery:

Summer Breezes Smoothie                                                      

1 c. fat free, plain yogurt
6 medium strawberries
1 c. pineapple, crushed, canned in juice
1 medium banana
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve in frosted glasses.

Makes 3 servings; 1 cup each

Creamy Strawberry-Orange Pops

1 container (8 oz) strawberry no-sugar-added, fat-free yogurt
¾ c. orange juice
2 t. vanilla
2 c. frozen strawberries
1 packet sugar substitute equivalent to 2 t. sugar
6 paper cups, 7 oz. capacity each
6 wooden sticks


Combine yogurt, orange juice and vanilla in a food processor or blender. Cover and process until smooth.

Add the strawberries and sugar substitute and process until smooth. Pour into 6 paper cups, filling each about ¾ full. Place in freezer 1 hour. Insert wooden sticks into center of each. Freeze completely. Peel cup off each pop to serve.

Makes 6 servings

Originally published with The Wellspring Collective.


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