A woman spoons yogurt into a bowl.

The Do's and Don'ts of Eating After Bariatric Surgery

Weight loss surgery can change your life, but it’s only the first step in the journey to a healthier lifestyle. After surgery, it’s essential to continue making decisions that will increase the longevity of the procedure’s results and improve your overall well-being. These include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and—you guessed it—eating a balanced diet

While some bariatric procedures are temporary (like the gastric balloon) or don’t alter your anatomy (like the gastric band surgery), some are more surgically extensive and require you to follow strict dietary guidelines for the first couple of months after surgery. Here are our do’s and don’t of eating after these types of bariatric surgery.

Remember: Always follow the dietary guidelines your physician recommends based on your procedure and individual needs.

Don’t: Immediately Start Eating Regular Food

Your doctor will personalize a post-procedure meal plan for you depending on several different factors. Check out our schedule to get an idea of what a general diet looks like after most types of bariatric surgery.

Days 1-2
Only consume clear liquids at room temperature. Stick to small volumes to avoid discomfort. 

Days 3-7
Add mild liquids into your diet, such as milk (dairy or nondairy), broth, and yogurt. 

Week 2
Begin introducing finely pureed foods into your diet. This can include mashed sweet potatoes or soft fruits blended in a food processor. 

Weeks 3-4
Add soft, easy-to-chew foods, such as scrambled eggs, soft fruits, and steamed vegetables. 

Weeks 5-8
Introduce harder foods into your diet. You can now eat fresh fruits, veggies, and beans. 

Beyond Week 8
You can now eat a regular, balanced diet.

Do: Eat Small Meals 

Whether you had the gastric sleeve procedure or a temporary intragastric balloon placed in your stomach, you probably can’t eat as much food as before without some discomfort. Eat small portions slowly to prevent overeating or upsetting your stomach. 

Don’t: Drink Carbonated Beverages

The gases that make drinks fizzy can build up in the stomach, stretching it out and creating more space. With more room in your stomach, you may feel hungry more often, so drinking carbonated beverages can work against your weight loss goal. 

Do: Eat a Serving of Fruits or Vegetables With Every Meal

If your procedure involves rerouting from your stomach to a lower portion of your small intestine, such as the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the food you eat no longer goes through some of the intestines that aid in nutrient absorption. This means that you don’t always get all of the vitamins and minerals you consume. Therefore, it’s important to ensure all the foods you eat have a high nutritional content. Additionally, your doctor will most likely recommend taking supplements.

Don’t: Drink With Your Meals 

Liquid in the stomach speeds up the rate at which your food moves to your small intestine. When it moves through your system too quickly, it can lead to dumping syndrome, which presents symptoms such as sweating, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, vomiting, fast heart rate, and low blood pressure. Save yourself the hassle and avoid drinking 30 minutes before and after eating. If you experience dumping syndrome often, speak with your doctor.

Do: Eat Plenty of Protein 

When you eat at a calorie deficit (as you do after bariatric surgery), your body searches for new sources of energy. While this can lead to burning fat, it can also lead to burning muscle. Protein is a macronutrient that can help you maintain your muscle mass. Since your smaller stomach becomes full faster, eat your protein first to make sure you get it in with every meal. 

Are you ready to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle? Check out one of our free Weight Loss Seminars at CHI St. Luke’s Health, or—if you can’t make it in person—register for an online seminar. We’ll share the basics of bariatric surgery and help you take the next steps toward achieving a life without limits. 

Sources:
ASMBS | Life After Bariatric Surgery
NCBI | Nutritional Recommendations for Adult Bariatric Surgery Patients: Clinical Practice
Healthline | Dumping Syndrome
OAC | The Post-surgery Diet for Bariatric Patients: What to Expect
Livestrong |  What Happens to Muscle If You Lose Weight Too Fast?