If you have landed on this page and have just undergone weight loss surgery, we congratulate you for coming this far! We know it’s been a tough road. We’re here to help you make healthy decisions going forward.
You may want more information regarding what to eat before and after weight loss surgery. We will explain what a bariatric diet is and answer some common questions about it.
Researchers have found that sleeve gastrectomy surgery is successful for 96% of patients after one year. After five years, this dropped to 73%. Bariatric surgery is still the most effective way to treat severe obesity and obesity-related conditions.
If you want long-term success, you need to adhere to lifestyle change, including diet and exercise. In this article, we will provide ways to stay on the right track.
What is a Bariatric Diet?
A bariatric diet is simply what you eat before and after bariatric surgery. The staples of this diet are liquids and soft foods in the early stages. Later, solid food is gradually introduced.
Typically, the bariatric diet is low-calorie with an emphasis on hydration, lean protein, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. People who have this surgery still struggle to get the right nutrients into their bodies for various reasons.
Researchers have found the best ways for bariatric patients to eat. They’ve also identified the best vitamins for bariatric patients to take.
What to Eat Before a Gastric Sleeve or Bypass
You will usually follow a pre-op bariatric liquid diet for 1-2 weeks. If you don’t stick to this diet, your doctor may cancel the surgery.
The idea is to consume a very low calorie and high protein diet in order to decrease the size of the liver. This will decrease the risk of surgical complications and provide the surgeon easier access to the stomach. A suitable bariatric meal replacement can be included in this liquid diet.
The liquids you can have include water, flavored water, clear broth, sugar-free drink mixes, or protein shakes for bariatric surgery patients.
This might sound boring, but there are ways to make this diet tastier. Discuss with your healthcare provider additional options that would be appropriate for this diet. Each surgeon will have their own recommendations.
What to Eat After a Gastric Sleeve or Bypass
After surgery, healing is critical. Your post-op diet will include different phases in order to allow the stomach to heal. This will start with clear liquids within 24 hours after surgery, followed by a progression of full liquids and soft foods all within a 2-4 week period.
This liquid diet should be easier to follow after surgery due to your smaller stomach and changes in appetite.
Pureed and soft foods may be introduced at about week 3 for a gastric sleeve diet. This can continue for some time until your healthcare provider deems you are tolerating the food stage well.
Quick and easy meals like bariatric protein soup will help get you started. Healthy protein drinks for bariatric patients are also ideal at this stage.
When your dietitian or provider says you are ready, you will begin gradually adding solid food. By this time, you should have a gastric sleeve foods list with all of the safe foods you can eat. This will include lean proteins, veggies and whole grains.
Always use this as the basis for meal plans for gastric sleeve patients.
The gastric bypass foods list and meal plan should be the same as the list for gastric sleeve patients. Check with your provider or dietitian about what’s right for your particular needs.
How do I Get the Most Out of my Bariatric Diet?
Find out How Many Calories you can Eat at Each Stage of Your Diet and Stick to This
We have provided a general guide here on calorie intake. Your doctor and dietitian will give you more detailed guidance.
Before surgery, you will follow a low or very low-calorie diet. With a very low calorie diet this can include anywhere from 450-700 calories per day. There are quite a few benefits of weight loss before bariatric surgery. This is never recommended unless you are under the observation of a registered dietitian and healthcare team.
After surgery, your calorie intake will decrease again. For about 2 months, it is common to consume around 300 to 600 calories per day. You will need to find recipes for eating after gastric bypass surgery that suit your needs.
After 2 months, you will likely start to increase to 1000 calories per day. You will continue gradually increasing your eating for 6 months after a gastric bypass, according to what your healthcare team decides is right for you.
Lifelong caloric intake can be anywhere between 1000 and 1500 calories daily. A 1000 calorie bariatric diet plan or 1500 calorie bariatric diet plan that you can stick to for the rest of your life is vital. Typically, meal portion sizes should not exceed 6-8 ounces total.
The food phase timeline will look different for everyone based on the bariatric procedure, toleration, medical conditions, and individual need.
Slowly Increase Your Calorie Intake Over Time
Do not make big jumps from one day to the next. Lifestyle adjustments take time, especially to promote long-term success. This food process will promote healing, relieve discomfort after surgery, and maintain weight loss.
Always Have a Meal Plan
Establishing a routine after bariatric surgery is important in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Determining a schedule for your day can lead to higher productivity levels and better food choices. It is common to find yourself looking for something to snack on when you have excessive downtime, so planning a routine for your day can fill up some of that extra time.
After gastric bypass surgery, a diet plan takes a lot of stress out of the process. You should create a clear meal plan ahead of time. It can be flexible in that you can choose between different healthy options.
As you plan your meals, keep in mind, you still need to manage chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. Low blood sugar after gastric bypass surgery is a common nutrition complication.
To avoid this, eating plans for gastric sleeve and gastric bypass patients will have small, but regular meals and snacks. Try to sit down for your meals at the same time each day and do not go without eating more than 3 hours. Eat slowly, taking about 30 minutes to eat meals. This can help maintain blood sugar levels.
Protein will be a priority after surgery. Work your meal plan around lean high-protein foods for gastric sleeve patients. For example, this includes lean chicken or nonfat/low-fat dairy. Do not try out any fad diets unless recommendations were made by your dietitian. This would include a keto diet after a gastric bypass. Your healthcare provider will only offer recommendations based on your individual needs and some diets are not suitable after bariatric surgery.
Create a Red Food List
It helps to have a clear idea of what you can eat, just as much as what you cannot. Your red foods are what you should be limiting or avoiding. Make this list with your dietitian so there is no confusion.
Your red food and beverage list may include, drinks with carbonation after a gastric sleeve or bypass, fried and fatty foods, pastries and other refined carbohydrates. Drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery is also not recommended.
Stay away from caffeine for as long as possible, or as advised by your healthcare provider. Knowing why you should have no caffeine after a gastric bypass makes it easier to accept. The main reason initially following surgery is because you should be focusing on hydration and excessive amounts of caffeine can have a dehydrating effect. It may also not be well tolerated, especially for those with GERD after bariatric surgery.
The Best Tips and Tools for Bariatric Dieters
Use Specialized Bariatric Dinnerware and Measuring Tools
Shaker bottles will come in handy every day when making meal replacement shakes.
Remember that water is important at every stage, before and after surgery. Keep a water bottle with you at all times.
You will appreciate a blender or food processor that’s easy to clean. Measuring cups, spoons, and a digital scale are vital for keeping track of your portions.
You can find portion plates and bowls especially for bariatric patients who have
reached the solid food stage. Specialized cutlery can help you eat at a slower pace.
Get yourself a portion control lunch box with different sections. Containers for small, healthy snacks to keep with you when traveling are helpful. Have a calorie list or converter on your phone for when you are creating a meal plan or shopping.
Get a Bariatric Cookbook
What you eat before a gastric sleeve is quite simple. A few months after gastric bypass surgery, diet plans need to contain more variety to keep you motivated. A bariatric recipe book, especially one written by a nutrition expert, is your best option.
Cookbooks for bariatric patients have recipes for a variety of tasty dishes. Look for recipes that you can enjoy, like bariatric pancakes and even a bariatric cheeseburger pie.
Plan Carefully Before Going Out to Eat
The best restaurants for bariatric patients should have healthy options available. Plan ahead by taking a look at the menu. Work out the calories and fit this into your meal plan. You may even be able to contact the restaurant ahead of time and send a gastric bypass restaurant card to alert the chef to your needs.
When you are eating out after a gastric sleeve or bypass, your bariatric restaurant card may be used to order off of the kid's menu at a restaurant for smaller portions.
Find a Support Group
Maintaining a healthy bariatric lifestyle can be challenging. You may need emotional support from those who have had the same experiences. Communities like Overeaters Anonymous might be beneficial, as well as bariatric forums, and online bariatric support groups.
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. After bariatric surgery, food options will look different for everyone based on food stage and tolerance. Consult with your bariatric healthcare team about appropriate food options based on your individual needs.