Diet and Nutrition

BEFORE your surgery:

  • You will meet with our dietitian to review your current eating habits and to discuss how to eat after surgery. Make sure to review all of the food, nutrition, and vitamin documents before this appointment to get the most out of it. Feel free to bring a list of questions!
  • You will receive a hard-copy of this book.
  • You will be on a low-calorie liquid shake diet for 2-4 weeks before your surgery.

AFTER your surgery:

  • Your diet progresses very slowly after surgery to give your stomach the time it needs to heal. You will follow a liquid menu for 2-3 weeks, then a puree menu for another 2-3 weeks, and then slowly you’ll transition to soft and easy to digest regular texture foods.
  • You will have appointments with the dietitian at 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after your surgery. In between these appointments, email and call your dietitian as often as you need to. If you’re experiencing digestive issues, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, difficulty drinking enough water, etc., she can provide tips and support.

Below is a list of the 12 Golden Rules after bariatric surgery:

  1. Have 3 meals + 2-3 snacks every day. Eating every 2-3 hours is very important.
  1. Aim for around 1 cup of total food at meals and snacks. Your portions at meals and snacks will increase slowly over time. Most of our clients reach 1 cup of food between 3-8 months after surgery. It’s a process!
  1. Eat slowly and chew your food really well. Patients who eat quickly after surgery and don’t chew well enough have a lot of issues with nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. After surgery, digestion needs to start in your mouth!
  1. Meet your protein goals most days. Your dietitian will calculate your daily protein goal for you. In the beginning, you’ll need to rely on protein supplements (ex. protein shakes, protein powders, protein water, etc.) in combination with your food to meet your goal. As time goes by, you will eventually be able to reach your protein goal with food alone.
  1. Have fruit and vegetables daily. Although protein is one of the most important nutrients after bariatric surgery, fruit and vegetables are still important! These high fiber food groups provide many important nutrients and their fiber helps prevent constipation.
  1. Choose high fiber grain products often. In the beginning, lower fiber grain products are easier to digest. Longer-term however, it’s important to transition back to higher fiber products like whole grain bread, high fiber crackers, quinoa, etc.
  1. Avoid drinking and eating at the same time. Stop drinking 15 minutes before eating and wait 30 minutes after eating. This recommendation is key to avoiding digestive issues and to help you feel satisfied on small portions. Not following this guideline is a major reason for weight re-gain in the years after surgery.
  1. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and carbonated drinks. Water should be your drink of choice after surgery. If you consider yourself a soda addict and/or currently don’t drink any water, this is one to start working on now.
  1. Limit sweets and salty junk food. After surgery it will be up to you to find a new balance with these foods. Ideally the goal is to have these foods less often, and when you do, to taste rather than fully indulge.
  1. Avoid eating for stress, anger, anxiety, etc. on a regular basis. Find healthier ways to manage your emotions. Emotional eating is a normal response to uncomfortable emotions for most people, however it can’t be your only coping strategy. Working with a psychologist, reading books on mindful/intuitive eating, exercising, practicing meditation, etc. are all good starting points to developing new coping strategies.
  1. Take your vitamins every day. After surgery you will need to take vitamins daily for the rest of your life.
  1. Plan for blood tests at 6 and 12 months after surgery and then annually. Blood tests after surgery are done with your family doctor. It’s your responsibility to be proactive and book these appointments.

For all of our food, nutrition, and vitamin handouts, refer to the Downloads tab.

The following are a list of foods to avoid or limit after surgery.

Food product Examples Consequence
Concentrated sweets Sugar, juice, pastries, cookies, cake, ice cream, candy/chocolate bars, honey, maple syrup, jam, etc. Dumping syndrome; reactive hypoglycemia; weight gain.
Greasy/High fat foods Fatty meats, skin on poultry, bacon, sausage, added fats (i.e. butter, excess oil), heavy cream sauces, fried foods, etc. Dumping syndrome; weight gain.
Carbonated beverages Soda, mineralized water, sparkling water, beer, etc. May increase the size of the gastric pouch.
Caffeine Coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, etc. Diuretic, fluid loss.
Alcohol Beer, wine, spirits, etc. Irritation to digestive system; weight gain.
Soft “doughy” grain products Untoasted breads, pasta, rice, etc. Dysphagia (“stuck” feeling when swallowing).
Fibrous foods Nuts, popcorn, celery, artichoke, etc. Better to delay consumption until tolerance improves.