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What Should I Eat After Weight Loss Surgery?

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Weight loss surgery is a serious medical decision that comes with certain patient responsibilities after surgery. In particular, patients will need to follow guidelines for diet to ensure maximum results and minimal complications or side effects.

Patients who choose to undergo weight loss surgery can expect their post-surgery diet to look something like this:

Phase 1

For the first few weeks after surgery, the patient will need to consume a strictly liquid diet. The primary foods in this stage are fluids such as broth, water and sugar-free ice pops or gelatin. After 24 hours, the patient can add in protein shakes. This phase lasts about two weeks.

Phase 2

Two weeks after surgery, the patient will be allowed to eat soft foods including purees, hummus, scrambled eggs, and finely chopped meats, such as chicken and turkey. The patient will need to continue supplementing with protein shakes to ensure they meet the daily protein intake requirement.

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Five to six weeks after surgery, the patient can begin slowly integrating tougher textures into their diet, such as soft fruit, cooked soft vegetables, and some grains. This phase lasts two weeks.

Phase 3

At five weeks after surgery, the patient will be allowed to begin a “regular” diet. They will need to continue emphasizing protein and vegetables with each meal. Supplementation can be included as needed.

Each patient is unique and there may be some foods that they will need to reduce or eliminate, depending on how their body responds. However, some foods that all patients should avoid post-surgery include carbonated drinks, spicy food, and caffeine. Patients should also stay away from high-sugar and highly processed foods to avoid weight gain.

At this point, patients will be able to recognize a full sensation after eating, which will help them maintain a healthy weight.

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Complications After Surgery

Patients are likely to experience the following mild symptoms after weight loss surgery:

  • Dumping syndrome: Though uncommon, dumping syndrome occurs when the stomach moves food into the small intestine faster than usual, causing symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. The condition is typically caused by eating a high-sugar diet.
  • Constipation: Patients may experience constipation as a result of decreased or lack of physical activity, lack of fiber, and dehydration.
  • Dehydration: The body’s hydration needs change drastically after weight loss surgery. Patients should avoid drinking fluids with meals and instead should consume about 64 ounces (or 1.9 liters) of water throughout the day.
  • Weight gain or failure to lose weight: If the patient gains weight or doesn’t lose any weight, they should talk to their doctor.

For healthy and continued weight loss, patients should follow the nutrition plan, pay attention to their bodies’ hunger and satiety (fullness) cues, and maintain the right mindset. If the patient hasn’t done the mental work, the post-surgery diet will be difficult to follow. Weight loss surgery patients should have a strong emotional and social support system, and should commit to changing their lifestyle to include more physical activity.

If you have any questions about the post-surgery diet, don’t hesitate to reach out!