After bariatric surgery, a special diet is required to assist your body with healing and recovery. At this time, you will find new eating habits through effective meal planning and the assistance of your doctor or dietician. The type of food you choose and the amounts that you consume should be closely monitored to help you lose weight at a healthy pace.
Your new diet should serve several purposes but first of all, your gastric bypass procedure will train you to eat smaller amounts of foods at a much slower pace than before. Your new eating habits will allow your stomach to heal without being stretched and help your body digest foods more effectively.
Following doctor’s orders is the single most effective post-surgery advice to be followed. Your physician will assist you and answer any questions you may have as you move through the four steps of gastric bypass recovery. By step four, which is usually month number three, you will be enjoying more solid foods again.
It is important to pay close attention to your body and recognize signs when you are hungry or full. You may not be able to eat some foods, even if they were once your favorites, as your body may develop certain food intolerances after gastric surgery.
Step One: Liquids
After gastric bypass surgery, you will not be allowed to eat for 24-48 hours, depending on your personal situation which has been taken into consideration by your doctor. This is to make sure your stomach has an appropriate time to heal. Before you are released from the hospital, you will be given liquids and very soft foods to ensure that the stomach can effectively accept foods and aid in the digestion process.
These post gastric surgery approved liquids may include any of the following: broth, fat free milk, unsweetened juice, sugar free gelatin, and cream soup which has been strained. Allow yourself to consume only two or three ounces of liquid each time and avoid carbonated beverages. Caffeine should also be avoided.
Step Two: Pureed Food
Once your body has grown accustomed to liquid foods without any complications, with your doctor’s consent you may be able to advance to the next step – pureed foods. For the next two to four weeks, you should consume only the foods which could be described as a thick liquid or paste. Avoid spicy foods and most dairy products as your digestive system will still be very sensitive at this time. New foods should be introduced slowly and in very small servings to prevent stomach irritation or nausea.
There should be absolutely no solid pieces and food should be pureed well. Some doctor approved healthy foods that will blend well include the following: lean meat that has been ground up, beans, egg whites, cottage cheese, fish, soft vegetables, fruit, and yogurt. Solid foods will blend well if you add a liquid such as fat free milk, water, sugar free juice, broth and even gravy, as long as it is fat free.
Step Three: Soft Food
With the doctor or dietitian’s approval, you will remain on pureed foods for several weeks until it is time to transition to soft food. An easy way to determine whether a food is considered soft is to try mashing it with a fork. If the food mashes easily against a fork, it can be included in your diet.
Much of the same rules apply during this phase as with the previous steps. Do not drink while you are eating; instead, wait until thirty minutes after eating to have a drink. You will feel full very quickly so try to consume as much protein as possible rather than fill up on less healthy foods. This will most likely be your diet for the next eight weeks so look for healthy variations of your favorite foods.
Step Four: Solid Food
With the soft food portion of your gastric bypass diet coming to an end, thanks to doctor’s orders, the time has come to begin eating solid food again – slowly and carefully. It is still recommended to avoid spicy or crunchy foods. Using caution and eating slowly will ensure there are no setbacks or complications with your gastric bypass surgery.
Solid food does not include everything you used to enjoy. It is important to use good common sense and make safe, nutritious choices. Foods to avoid should include the following: popcorn, nuts, seeds, granola, tough or dry meat, breads, carbonated beverages, and stringy fibrous vegetables (including broccoli, corn, cabbage, and celery) as these are prone to causing several gastrointestinal problems.
Some additional things to consider as you form new habits and your body heals:
- Eat several small meals per day – slowly
- Meals should be the equivalent to one-half cup servings
- Stay hydrated with liquids throughout the day rather than during meals
- Take a daily vitamin supplement and calcium, at the doctor’s request
- Drink plenty of water each day
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar or fat including items such as candy bars, ice cream, and soda
- Avoid fried foods entirely
- Choose high protein options whenever possible. These foods will help heal wounds, regrow muscle and skin, and even prevent hair loss.
Some high protein foods include lean cuts of pork, beef, fish, chicken, or beans and are wonderful for your new diet. Other sources of protein can be found in the dairy group with items such as low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt.