What Diet Is Recommended After Gastric Bypass Surgery?
As the most common bariatric procedure performed in the United States, gastric bypass surgery generally yields very satisfying results for patients who undergo it. By reducing the size of the stomach and rerouting the small intestine, the amount of food and liquids a person can ingest at once is substantially limited, which gradually leads to significant weight loss.
The majority of people who opt for gastric bypass surgery eventually lose approximately 70% of their excess weight. However, the key to the success of this bariatric procedure resides primarily in a post-surgery diet. The purposes of the diet you must follow after your surgery include:
- prompting your new stomach to heal without being stretched
- getting used to eating smaller amounts of food
- promoting steady and safe weight loss
- avoiding side-effects and complications
The First Week – Clear Liquids Only
During the first week after gastric bypass surgery, the patient is allowed to consume exclusively clear liquids, such as:
- fat-free milk
- sugar-free jello
These liquids must be drunk in amounts of one to two ounces per hour in order to stay properly hydrated, which is crucial throughout this period of time.
The Second and Third Weeks – Pureed Foods and Protein Shakes
At this stage, your dietitian will usually recommend a daily intake of between 60 and 70 grams of protein and 64 ounces of clear liquid, excluding the liquid in pureed foods. Your sources of protein will be the following:
- pureed meat
- soft fruits
The foods above should include water, fat-free milk, as well as fat-free broth. It is important to note that clear liquids must not be ingested at the same time as pureed foods. The patient should not drink any liquids 30 minutes prior to and 60 minutes following to having pureed foods. Using a straw is not a good idea, as it could make you swallow air along with the food. Similarly, the patient should refrain from caffeinated and carbonated beverages during the second and third weeks post-surgery.
Your dietitian may advise you to take supplements such as multivitamins and calcium citrate to prevent nutrient deficiency.
The Fourth and Fifth Weeks – Soft Foods
While the amount of food it is recommended to have at this stage remains the same, the range of products you are now allowed to consume widens. Accordingly, you can safely eat soft foods, which refer to any product you can easily mash with a fork. Fruits and vegetables should be ingested without seeds or skin. Some examples of soft foods you can have during the fourth and fifth weeks after your gastric bypass are:
In addition to multivitamins and calcium citrate, you will likely be prescribed vitamin D and a daily dose of sublingual B12, too.
The Sixth Week and Onwards – Solid Foods
The reintroduction of solid food in your diet should be gradual, as your body has to readjust to this kind of products. It is recommended to start having chopped or diced food at the beginning, then slowly transition to eating normally. Nevertheless, there are certain foods you will have to limit your intake of or completely avoid for the rest of your life, including:
- fried foods
- nuts and seeds
Furthermore, your new stomach might not tolerate spicy and crunchy food. Since adjusting to eating solid foods again could prove to be quite challenging, you might find the following tips useful during your transition:
- avoid introducing more than one food per day in your diet so as to observe how your body responds to it
- the order in which you should consume your food must be the following: protein, vegetables, carbohydrates
- drink at least 64 ounces of water daily
- chew every bite thoroughly, preferably for 15 seconds or more
- avoid pre-packaged and processed foods with many ingredients and focus on simple, nutritious products instead
- continue to take your supplements as recommended by your dietitian
The last aspect we should touch upon is dumping syndrome, which is relatively common among people who underwent gastric bypass surgery. It entails the stomach pushing food which has not been properly broken down into the small intestine, which causes symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, and cramps. However, dumping syndrome can easily be avoided if you refrain from consuming the foods listed above and eat slowly.
Although physical activity also plays a very important role in the lifestyle of people whose stomach has been shrunk following gastric bypass surgery, diet remains instrumental in losing excess weight and improving the quality of life. Therefore, we strongly encourage our patients to stay in touch with their dietitians and go to all their follow-up appointments, as the guidance of a specialist is essential throughout the journey to a more enjoyable and carefree life.