Why Changing Your Eating Habits After Weight Loss Surgery Is Essential

The decision to undergo weight loss surgery is life-changing. Your lifestyle after the surgery plays a significant role in ensuring consistent weight loss and fast healing. After bariatric surgery, you've to embrace your new life by putting an end to your old eating habits. 

Achieving lasting weight loss means changing your diet. Whether you choose gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or adjustable gastric banding, adopting an appropriate diet makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight for a long time. Work closely with your surgeon and nutritionist to make healthy food choices. 

Why Change Diet After Bariatric Surgery? 

Most weight loss surgery procedures involve reducing the stomach capacity or adjusting the intestinal length. The goal of these weight loss surgeries is to restrict food consumption, make you feel fuller with a small amount of food, and reduce the amount of nutrients the body can absorb. 

Weight loss procedures disrupt the functioning of hormones that inhibit weight loss. By doing so, it becomes easier for you to lose weight. However, it still requires a healthy diet to ease the recovery process and achieve long-term weight loss results. 

woman looking at grocery list

The first three months after the surgery is the crucial recovery period. At this time, you've to watch what you drink and eat. Meals that were tiny in the past make you fuller. After the surgery, you'll have to eat small amounts until that time when your body adjusts to the smaller stomach. 

You've to change to a diet rich in proteins while avoiding alcohol and high-calorie foods. This is because surgery makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. The small food you take should be able to meet your body's nutritional needs. 

You've to adjust how you eat and drink after weight loss surgery to:

  • Ease and quicken the recovery process by allowing the stomach to heal

  • Eat smaller amounts of food that your small stomach can digest comfortably 

  • Avoid complications such as dumping syndrome and constipation 

  • Ensure the food you take has good amounts of nutrients 

  • Support the weight loss process and prevent weight gain 

  • Adjust to the new levels of satiety and nutritional needs

Research shows that diet management after surgery requires intervention from dieticians and nutritionists. Work together with your nutritionist to find food appropriate for your body. 

Post Weight Loss Surgery Dietary Stages

Since your stomach is smaller after bariatric surgery, you've to make healthy food choices. The little food you eat should have sufficient nutrients for healthy living. According to a medical study, the goals of maintaining a diet after bariatric surgery are to maximize weight loss, maintain adequate hydration and avoid vomiting and dumping syndrome.

Phase 1: Maintaining Adequate Hydration 

Within the first week or so of the post-surgery period, you're allowed to drink clear liquids only. This allows your stomach to recover from surgery without being stretched out by the food. After this, you can take liquids such as broth, decaffeinated tea/coffee, unsweetened juice, sugar-free gelatin, and skimmed milk. 

During this first phase, your goal is to help your body heal from surgery. Liquids are essential and assist avoid postoperative complications, such as hypoglycemia.  

Below are some tips when taking fluids in this stage:

  • Sip fluids slowly to prevent bloating, pain, and other post-surgery intolerances

  • Take fluids frequently throughout the day

  • As the abdominal swelling goes down, increase your fluid intake

  • Have a plan to take drink certain amounts of fluids every day

  • Track your fluid intake using apps and reminders 

  • Sip fluids that do not contain alcohol, caffeine, carbonates, or sugars

  • Note the signs of dehydration which include dark urine, nausea, dizziness, thirst, and unexplained headache

Phase 2: It's Time for Pureed Foods 

Typically, most people eat pureed foods one to two weeks after bariatric surgery. Once your surgeon gives you the go-ahead, start pureeing your foods. You can use blenders, food processors, and other appliances to puree or mash your foods. 

Here are the foods to stay away from in this phase:

  • Foods with seeds such as kiwi, guava, or strawberries 

  • Foods with spicy seasonings that can irritate the stomach

  • Fibrous foods such as cauliflower and broccoli are difficult to mash 

In this stage, try to consume about five to six small meals a day. Remember to ingest food slowly. You should take up to 30 minutes to complete a single meal. Ensure your food doesn't contain any solid particles.

Begin using protein shakes after each meal to meet your nutrient requirements. Also, avoid taking fluids while consuming your food. Fluids can cause dumping syndrome. Wait at least 30 minutes after each meal to take fluids. 

Some pureed foods to consider include: 

  • Sugar-free, low-fat yogurt (Greek Yoghurt)

  • Strained potato, mushroom, or celery cream soups 

  • Pureed beef, chicken, or turkey

  • Cottage cheese

  • Tofu 

  • Scrambled eggs

Phase 3: Continue with Soft Foods 

Probably, you'll consume pureed foods with a mix of protein supplements for weeks. Once your weight loss surgeon okays soft foods, add small and easily chewable food to your diet. Eat three to five small meals a day. 

woman eating yogurt

The third phase allows you to meet your body's nutritional needs without using supplements.  Some of the soft foods to consider include: 

  • Minced seafood 

  • Eggs

  • Minced chicken, beef, pork, or turkey

  • Beans

  • Whole-grain crackers 

  • Rice 

  • Cottage cheese

  • Cooked vegetables (without skin)

  • Fruits (without skin or seeds)

Phase 4: Stabilize with Solid Foods 

After about two months, you can gradually return to eating solid foods. Depending on how your stomach will respond to solid food, you can start with three solid meals a day. Try new foods once a time as some foods can cause nausea and vomiting. 

Foods that can be problematic at this phase include:

  • Bread

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Popcorns 

  • Raw veggies 

  • Fried food 

  • Red meat and tough meat

  • Dried fruits

Remember to follow a diet low in calories, fats, and sweets. Track your food portions, calorie intake, and protein intake to ensure you maintain a healthy diet. Eat foods rich in proteins to preserve muscle tissue during the weight loss process. Bariatric surgery can cause persistent weight loss for up to two to three years. 

As you progress through post-weight loss surgery dietary phases, the approach changes slowly and gradually. While incorporating food into your diet, make sure to inform your doctor. Continue drinking an adequate amount of water and avoid carbonated and sugary drinks. Contact us for professional advice on matters regarding weight loss surgery. 

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