Bariatric surgery is performed to limit your food consumption and facilitate weight loss. The procedure involves the modification of the gastrointestinal tract using an implanted medical device called gastric banding. Any individual undergoing the surgery requires a healthy diet for fast recovery. Following a specially designed diet before the weight reduction surgery is very crucial since it helps decrease the risk of complications during and after the surgery.
Diet before Surgery
The patients are expected to consume around 800 to 1200 calories a day, for a few days before the procedure. A high-protein diet which is necessarily low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates is recommended by the doctors. You should avoid high-sugar foods, high-carbohydrate foods (like bread and pasta), fats (like butter), fatty meats, fried foods, whole milk products, and high-calorie beverages (like regular soda and alcoholic beverages). However, you may consume yogurt, fruit, cereal, eggs, or oatmeal for breakfast, and lean meat or fish with green vegetables for lunch and dinner.
Due to the restricted food intake, the patients are asked to take protein, mineral, and vitamin supplements. High amount of protein is required to accelerate the recovery. Proteins are required to protect the muscles so that the body burns excess fat instead of muscle tissue when on a low-fat diet. The diet may vary from person to person, but usually, the pre-surgery diet is designed to incorporate about 70-120 g of proteins everyday. The fat content of the liver can be reduced with the help of a properly planned diet. It helps avoid excessive bleeding during surgery. This diet helps shorten the operating time.
Diet after Surgery
After a bariatric weight loss surgery, it is necessary to follow a diet plan that ensures fast and proper healing. It should provide adequate nutrition too. Most bariatric surgeries fail because patients do not follow the diet prescribed by the surgeon or dietitian.
Your eating habits will change drastically, immediately after the surgery. After about 9-12 weeks, you will be able to eat solid foods. You will progress gradually, starting with clear liquid diet. You are expected to keep your portion sizes small and calorie levels reduced, in order to continue your weight loss.
Clear Liquid Diet
For the first 1-2 weeks after a gastric bypass surgery, a clear-liquid diet will keep you properly hydrated. Clear liquids (liquids you can see through) which may be consumed are diluted fruit juices like kiwi, apple, grape, and cranberry, protein fruit drinks, broths like clear beef, chicken, and vegetable broths, sugar-free gelatin, and artificially sweetened non-carbonated beverages. Do not use straws, or drink carbonated beverages since they may introduce air into your pouch and cause discomfort. Sip slowly throughout the day, 1 to 2 ounces over 30 minutes.
Full Liquid Diet
A week after the surgery, you may add full liquids (fluids you cannot see through) to your diet which may include broth of low-fat soups, protein shakes, smoothies, skim milk, yogurt, diet puddings, and liquid protein supplements.
Usually, 3-4 weeks after surgery, you will be allowed to consume pureed foods. These foods have a consistency of apple sauce and do not contain any pieces or chunks. Foods that are just cut into small pieces or mashed are not recommended during this post surgery diet. You are expected to introduce one new food at a time and observe your tolerance to it. You may use a blender or food processor to puree the foods. Place the food in the blender and add some liquid broth, skim milk, or low-calorie gravy and blend them together. You should incorporate high-protein, low-calorie foods in your diet. Some permissible food items are cooked vegetables (peeled), canned fruits (in their own juices or water), low-fat cottage cheese, chopped lean meat (except red meat), cooked eggs (any type except fried), etc.
You may take a chewable vitamin supplement only when prescribed by the surgeon. You should also drink plenty of fluids. You may either eat pureed foods or drink fluids at a time, but not together. You should drink fluids 20-30 minutes before you eat. Then, after eating, you are supposed to wait 20-30 minutes to drink fluids. You are expected to eat pureed foods for 3-4 weeks, allowing the opening in the stomach pouch to heal.
Soft Foods and Regular Diet
After 5-6 weeks post surgery, you will be asked to incorporate soft foods with more texture in your diet. Easy to chew, tender foods such as ground or finely diced meats, canned or soft fruits, cooked vegetables, rice, macaroni, and noodles are usually recommended. You should eat many small meals in a day and sip water between intervals. You may perhaps start with 6 small meals a day and gradually progress to 4 meals a day. Protein-rich foods such as lean meat, yogurt, and eggs are recommended. You might be advised to eat soft foods for about 8 weeks before progressing to regular texture foods, depending upon your recovery status.
After 3 months, you'll be allowed to eat regular foods, and your diet plan will consist of 3 small meals and 3 healthy snacks a day. The diet will mostly comprise lean sources of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Usually, a low-calorie diet (1000-1200 calories per day) is prescribed by the dietitian as it promotes weight loss.
Diet Tips for Fast Recovery
- Eat proteins first: Most dietitians recommend an intake of between 60 and 100 grams of protein each day.
- Lots of fruits and vegetables with meals: This may help in the process of digestion and provide necessary nutrients.
- No fluids with meals: Drinking fluids with meals may cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and a condition called dumping syndrome in gastric bypass patients.
- Plenty of water: Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day. Non-carbonated beverages as well as flavored waters, decaf coffee or tea, broth, and diluted fruit juices may be included in your diet.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements every day: Required daily supplements may include a multivitamin/mineral, calcium, vitamin B 12, and an iron supplement.
- Eat and drink slowly: Slow and proper chewing of food is important, so that your small stomach pouch and narrowed outlet may avoid problems such as dumping or vomiting.
- Eat small meals: After surgery, you won't be able to eat more than 1 to 1 ½ cups of food at a time. 3-6 small meals a day, with each meal not more than 6-8 ounces in size, are recommended. You may include 2 or 3 healthy protein snacks if hungry. You should stop eating before you begin to feel full.
Numerous bariatric surgery diet recipes are available on the internet. A little bit of patience and discipline is required to achieve the desired goal of weight reduction. The diet is simple and easy, but you should strictly follow the instructions of the surgeon and dietitian. This will prevent health complications after the surgery.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.