From an Accredited Practising Dietitian


Frequently Asked Questions After Bariatric Surgery

I have heard I should be avoiding all carbs. Is this right?

It is a common misconception that carbs (carbohydrates) need to be avoided by everyone.

In some cases, reducing or carefully selecting specific types of carbs is important but rarely do they need to be avoided all together. In fact, avoiding all carbohydrates could affect your energy levels and concentration.

The key here is to choose mostly unrefined, wholegrain carbohydrates that look brown and 'grainy' as these provide better nutrition and fill you up for longer.

Are there any foods I should completely avoid after surgery?

Foods that give you severe reflux or cause regurgitation should be avoided initially and can be re-trialled later. Common foods that do this are stringy meats, doughy bread and hard vegetables. If you are symptom free, there are no particular foods to avoid. However, high calorie food and drinks should be left for special occasions as they can affect your overall weight loss if consumed frequently.

How much should I be drinking to stay hydrated?

This can vary depending on your pre-surgery weight and medical conditions, but 2 litres is a good goal. Remember, it is important to avoid drinking 30 minutes either side of meals to avoid discomfort and avoid larger portions than needed.

What do I eat straight after surgery?

For the first 1-2 weeks following surgery, usually a liquid diet is required. This allows your stomach to recover from surgery. Following this, you would start on a pureed diet then progress to a soft food diet. From approximately 7 weeks after surgery, you will gradually reintroduce solid foods and increase the variety of foods eaten. The exact time frames will be explained by your surgeon. It is important to have adequate protein in your diet to avoid muscle loss after surgery.

If I don't feel hungry, should I avoid eating?

Probably not. Some people don't get hungry very often at all after surgery, but this doesn't mean they don't need to eat. It is important to get enough protein and nutrients to support your body.

If you don't feel hungry, aiming to have 3 meals a day is a good guide, with snacks added only if you need them. Also aim to have protein at all 3 meals (for example: meat, eggs, dairy, nuts or legumes) as well as a range of fruit and veggies.

I feel hungry constantly; what do I do?

Make sure you are recognising the difference between true hunger and eating in response to emotions.

If it is true hunger, are you grazing on food across the day instead of having 3 main meals? This can make you hungry all day; try to re-structure your meals. Are you eating foods that are high in fibre? High-fibre foods can keep you full for longer. Are you restricting any food groups? Consider increasing the variety of foods you eat; your body may be telling you it's missing something!

If you are eating in response to emotions, speak to your dietitian and/or psychologist about managing this.

I find it difficult to have breakfast as I often feel sick of a morning if I eat; what can I do?

Try having a sip of water or a hot drink before breakfast. This can clear any mucus sitting at the top of your stomach.

Also try different types of breakfast: eggs or yoghurt are good places to start. Still having trouble? Check in with your surgeon or dietitian.

What do I do if I feel dizzy/shaky/sick after meals?

You may be experiencing dumping syndrome, which most commonly affects those with a gastric sleeve or bypass more than with a band.

How long after meals does this happen? Have you noticed a pattern of which foods/drinks cause this? Create a list and talk to your surgeon or dietitian.

My bowel habits have changed; should I be concerned?

This is quite common after weight loss surgery because of the change in type and amount of foods eaten.

It could be from not having enough fibre in your diet or not having enough fluids. If you increase the amount of fibre in your diet, make sure you are well hydrated! If your bowel habits are really affecting your life, get it checked out by your surgeon or GP.

My weight loss has started to slow down/plateau; what do I do?

This can happen for a number of reasons. It can be useful to step back and see how far you've come. Are you happy with your weight loss? Do you have better control over your medical conditions (if you have any)? If not, are you eating suitable portions? Are you incorporating exercise into your week? If you need further support, talk to your GP or dietitian.

How long until I can exercise following surgery?

This will mostly depend on any conditions you had before surgery and how well your body has adapted to the surgery. Speak to your surgeon about this one.

If you feel concerned or nervous about any aspects of eating before or after your surgery, a bariatric-trained dietitian can help to navigate and guide you as well as pick up on potential nutritional problems.

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