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Post-Gastric Bypass Diet: What to Eat After Your Bariatric Surgery

The post-gastric bypass diet helps people recovering from bariatric surgery to heal quickly and improve long-term eating habits. Your doctor, or a registered dietitian, will develop a specialized meal plan for you to follow after surgery. This gastric bypass diet will give specific instructions on what types of food and how much food you can eat at each meal. Closely following your gastric bypass diet is an important part of recovery and will help you lose weight safely.

What’s the Purpose of a Post-Surgery Diet?

  • Allowing your stomach to heal without being stretched by food
  • Getting accustomed to eating smaller portions of food that are safe for your new stomach
  • Helping you lose weight and avoid regaining weight
  • Avoiding side effects and complications

The following information is provided for general purposes only. Please consult with your doctor about your specific health needs.

Four Steps of the Post-Gastric Bypass Diet

Post-bariatric surgery diet recommendations vary with each patient, depending on many individual factors. Although it is different for everyone, most are able to start eating solid foods within three months of surgery. The amount of time this process takes can vary depending on how quickly your body heals and adjusts to the new eating pattern.

After gastric bypass or other bariatric surgery, it is important that you pay extra attention to your body’s signs of being hungry or full. During the recovery process, it is possible to develop intolerances or aversions to certain foods.

Post-bariatric surgery diets vary from person to person, but each has four main steps to ease you back into eating solid food.

Step 1: Liquids

In order to allow your new stomach to heal properly, you won't be allowed to eat for one to two days after your gastric bypass surgery. When your stomach has healed enough, you can start a diet of liquids and semisolid foods.

Some of the foods you will be able to eat or drink include:

  • Unsweetened juice
  • Milk
  • Broth
  • Sugar-free gelatin

It is important to sip fluids slowly and drink only 2 to 3 ounces (59 to 89 milliliters, or mL) at a time, when you start the liquid diet. Carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages are not allowed during the liquid diet.

Step 2: Pureed Foods

After a few days of liquid foods, you can move up to pureed foods. This period will last between two and four weeks. During the pureed foods step, you can eat foods that have the consistency of a smooth paste or a thick liquid, but be careful not to eat solid pieces of food.

Nearly any food can be pureed, but it’s best to choose solid foods that will blend well:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg whites
  • Beans
  • Lean meats
  • Fish

Most of these foods will need to be blended with an approved liquid:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened juice
  • Milk
  • Broth

Keep in mind that you may become sensitive to spicy foods and dairy products after bariatric surgery. If you'd like to eat these foods during the pureed foods phase, slowly add small amounts into your diet. Always consult your doctor or dietician before making changes to your diet.

Step 3: Soft Foods

When your doctor approves you to move on—usually after a few weeks of pureed foods—you can add soft solid foods to your diet.

During this step, you are able to introduce some solid foods into your diet:

  • Ground or finely diced meats
  • Canned or soft fresh fruit
  • Cooked vegetables

A good test to know if your food is soft enough to eat is if you can mash it with a fork. The soft foods step usually lasts eight weeks before you are cleared to eat firmer foods. As always, consult your dietitian or doctor before making any diet changes.

Step 4: Solid Foods

About eight weeks after your bariatric surgery, you will be able to start incorporating firmer foods into your diet.

Some foods may still be difficult to eat:

  • Spicy foods
  • Crunchy or hard foods
  • Certain meats

Start slowly with regular foods to see what foods you can tolerate and always get permission from your doctor before adding new foods to your meals.

Avoid these foods

Even though you will be able to eat most foods by this point, certain foods are known to cause irritation in the weeks following surgery:

  • Stringy or fibrous vegetables (like broccoli or celery)
  • Tough meats
  • Bread
  • Granola
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dried fruits
  • Popcorn
  • Sodas and other carbonated drinks

These foods may not have an effect on you, but commonly cause gastrointestinal symptoms in bariatric surgery patients. Over time, you may be able to eat some of these foods again, with the guidance of your doctor.

A Normal Diet after Bariatric Surgery

Within four months of having gastric bypass surgery, you may be able to reintroduce normal healthy foods into your diet. Some foods may never become tolerable after surgery, but it may be possible that some foods that initially irritated your stomach will become tolerable as you heal.

When trying to introduce new foods into your diet, start with small portions and always consult your doctor or dietician. Starting small will minimize the unpleasant effects of any stomach irritation.

The Importance of Following the Post-Bariatric Surgery Diet

Following your doctor’s instructions after gastric bypass or other bariatric surgeries can result in long-term weight loss; however, everyone is different and each type of weight loss surgery affects people differently.

The type of surgery you choose, along with a number of personal factors and habits, will affect how much weight you lose. It is possible to lose half or more of your excess weight within two years. Keeping the excess weight off is hard work, but following your doctor’s instructions and sticking to your diet and exercise plan will help you stay on track.

Carefully following your gastric bypass diet can help you recover from surgery more quickly and get you back to doing the things you love sooner. Unhealthy eating habits after bariatric surgery could have a negative effect on how much excess weight you lose and could bring back other conditions, like diabetes and heart disease.

If you have questions about your post bariatric surgery diet, please feel free to call us at (619) 298-9931.We are dedicated to providing you with the care you deserve.