The skinny on how to eat after bariatric surgery
If you battle obesity, bariatric surgery is a powerful tool that can reduce the size of your stomach, restrict food intake, and promote weight loss.
But it’s by no means a miracle cure. After bariatric surgery, you’ll have to make wise food choices to maintain a healthy weight.
Here are some answers to questions you may have about your diet after bariatric surgery:
Q: What can I eat after bariatric surgery?
For several weeks post-surgery, you’ll eat a liquid or pureed diet so your stomach can adjust. Then you can gradually start to eat soft foods in very small portions to see what your body will tolerate and slowly progress to regular food. While a normal stomach holds up to 6 cups of chewed food, your stomach after surgery now holds far less. Don’t snack, eat too quickly, or consume too much, or you may stretch your smaller stomach.
Q: Can I eat the foods I love?
Your body will need plenty of protein (poultry, fish, meat, eggs, beans, or low-fat dairy products) to get enough nutrients and maintain muscle mass. Limit fat, sugar, and carbohydrates, such as breads, pastas, and sweets, because they have few nutrients. Aim for about six small, protein-rich meals a day, with servings of fruits and vegetables.
Q: Should I limit my fluids?
To avoid dehydration—a common reason for hospital readmission after bariatric surgery—drink about 8 cups of water or other calorie-free, non-carbonated (this means no regular or diet soda) liquids daily. Do NOT drink liquids during meals or for 30 minutes afterward—liquids may fill you up and prevent you from eating enough healthy food.
Q: Can I drink alcohol?
Alcohol is high in calories and provides no nutrients, so avoid it or limit your intake.
Q: What happens if I eat the wrong foods?
People who have had bariatric surgery are at risk for a condition called dumping syndrome. It occurs when they eat certain foods—especially sugar—that move too quickly from the stomach to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.