Post-bariatric Surgery Diet Resources and Guidelines
There are certain post-bariatric surgery diet restrictions you must follow in order to ensure your body properly adjusts to a weight loss procedure. This page provides an overview of what you can expect your diet to look like the weeks following surgery.
Phases of a Post-bariatric Surgery Diet
There are four primary diet phases following weight loss surgery. Once you make it through those phases, you’ll start to settle into your long-term bariatric eating habits. The four phases are as follows:
- Phase I: First two weeks after surgery
- Phase II: Three weeks after surgery
- Phase III: Four weeks after surgery
- Phase IV: Four weeks after surgery
Bariatric Post-op Diet General Guidelines
Regardless of how far along you are in your post-op recovery process, there are some dietary restrictions you must always follow, including:
- No carbonated beverages, caffeine, or alcohol for 6 weeks
- No heavy lifting or exercise for 6 weeks (walking is fine and encouraged)
- No swimming, tub baths, hot tubs, or Jacuzzis for 6 weeks
Also, make sure you gently clean your wounds daily using Hibiclens or antibacterial soap and water and antiseptic spray. After you’ve cleaned your wounds, cover them with gauze or band-aids.
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How to Make Sure You’re Following a Proper Post-op Diet
First and foremost, don’t challenge your new stomach by eating solids too soon or overeating! Remember the stomach can hold 3-4 ounces after surgery. You will probably feel satisfied after 2-3 tablespoons of food.
Over time, your stomach will stretch. But it takes 6-9 months (possibly longer) for your new stomach size to stabilize, which will allow you to determine your new normal meal size.
If you accidentally eat too much, vomiting will follow and you can stretch the size of the stomach. If you are unable to keep anything down and are having extreme difficulty staying hydrated, sip on regular Gatorade every 5 to 10 minutes. It has electrolytes necessary for normal cell function. Once you feel better, return to non-caloric beverages such as water and diet flavored waters.
When you do eat, make sure you abide by the following rules:
- Eat small, nutrient-dense meals, supplemented by two high-protein snacks a day.
- Avoid foods with large amounts of sugars, especially those in liquid forms. They are filled with non-nutritional empty calories and slow down weight loss.
- Eat slowly. Take small bites and chew thoroughly — at least 25 times.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 cups, or 48 to 64 oz., of fluid per day to prevent dehydration.
- Stop drinking liquids 15 minutes before meals and wait 30 minutes after meals.
- Track everything in a food diary.
As you adjust to your new eating habits, try to introduce only one new food at a time in order to rule out any intolerance. If a food is not tolerated, go back to the full liquid diet for several days and try to reintroduce that particular food in one week.
If your stomach can’t tolerate dairy, try a substitute lactose-free milk, such as Lactaid brand. You also can try soymilk fortified with calcium and vitamin D, or try lite soy, lite almond, lite rice or lite cashew milk.
You may experience heartburn or acid reflux at some stage as well. If this occurs, take an antacid. Omeprazole, Prilosec and Nexium are good choices, but there are several other antacid options available.
In addition, you should be taking at least one sublingual B12 vitamin and a bariatric multivitamin daily. Add biotin, calcium and iron supplements as needed.
You have really completed an amazing feat, but remember, your journey has just begun. If you are stuck or have questions, please contact us. There also are plenty of support groups out there you can join to help you stay on top of your dieting in the long term.
Additional Post-bariatric Surgery Diet Resources
For more information about post-op dieting, check out some of our other articles: