Healthy Eating After Bariatric Surgery

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

• You need to eat healthy, whole foods

• Make sure to eat your protein first

• Take steps to keep your blood sugar stable (see below)

• Remember to drink the right amount of water at the right times

• No snacking

So what should I eat now I have had Bariatric Surgery??

A good long-term bariatric diet follows 5 basic principles…

1. Eat healthily

Healthy bariatric eating has two angles… what you eat and how you eat. Here we focus on what you eat. We’ll get into the “how” further down the page.

Before getting into the details, we have some good news: eating healthy will probably be much easier after your procedure.

Many patients report enjoying healthy foods and exercising more than they did before surgery, and they report enjoying junk food and overeating less.

“Many patients…actually become repulsed at the thought of unhealthy food after surgery because of how it makes them feel.” The creative packaging in the supermarket can make it difficult to distinguish between the healthy and unhealthy foods.

In general, your bariatric diet should only consist of FOG foods…

Farm – The food is raised on a farm (i.e. chicken, turkey, eggs, dairy products)

Ocean – It comes from the ocean (i.e. fish)

Ground – It is grown in the ground (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains)

When possible, avoid anything that was modified by humans in any way.

A good rule of thumb can be applied by reading the label… if there are more than 3 to 5 ingredients or if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it.

How you prepare your food is as important as what you buy…

• When cooking, bake, grill, poach…don’t fry.

• Use light milk instead of whole milk.

• Use chicken or vegetable broth instead of oil.

• Replace oil in recipes with applesauce or yogurt.

• Add spices or lemon juice to add flavor instead of olive oil or butter.

We know, we know… how boring, right?

Give it a shot. Not only will you eventually get used to the change, you will probably start to be turned off by not eating this way.

Many patients have said that after a while they actually became repulsed at the thought of unhealthy food because of how it made them feel compared to their new bariatric diet.

In addition, many patients’ taste for unhealthy food changes after surgery.

2. Protein first

Protein is one of the most important nutrients for your body, and you need a lot of it in order to stay healthy… up to 80 grams a day.

With your old stomach, this was no problem. But now that your stomach is down to the size of a golf ball, 80 grams is a big percentage of the available space.

Your body’s going to do all it can to get the adequate amount of protein, so if you’re not eating enough your body will begin to break down muscle.

This can cause you to feel nauseous, irritable, weak and tired. If lack of protein intake goes on too long it can ultimately cause general swelling, hair loss and skin problems, worsen your immune system and increase your risk of infection.

So eat you protein first. It can be found in many foods, including meat, fish, soy and dairy products, legumes and nuts.

When you’re picking your protein, be mindful of fat content as many protein sources contain ample amounts of it. Always opt for the lean or low-fat option.

If you’re having a tough time getting enough, it may be necessary to supplement your bariatric diet either every day or as needed.

For example, a daily supplement can be taken in the form of a pill or powder, or you can make yourself a protein shake at the end of a low-protein day.

3. Keep your blood sugar level stable

Stable blood sugar leads to stable hunger and stable relationships (no mood swings).

In order to keep your blood glucose level in check…

• Avoid simple carbohydrates - Foods with simple carbs include white bread, potatoes, white rice, corn, peas and anything that is obviously full of sugar like candy, ice cream or donuts.

• Eat good carbs in small portions - (along with your high amounts of protein), including vegetables, apples and the “brown foods” like whole-grain bread and brown rice. In addition to being good for your blood sugar level, they are often high in fibre which makes you full faster and helps to regulate your bowel movements.

4. Drink the right amount of water at the right times

Not just water!

It’s important that you remain hydrated after weight loss surgery… you must drink FLUIDS (preferably, low calorie ones such as unsweetened, caffeine-free herbal tea) but not just water. If you only drink water, you may develop electrolyte abnormalities such as water intoxication syndrome.

Talk with your team for recommendations specific to you, but usually no more than half of your fluids should be water.

You will need to drink a lot of fluids… between 48 and 64 ounces per day. That’s equal to about 8 cups or 2 litres.

This may be tough to do considering the size of your new stomach. To make things more difficult, you can’t drink with your meals and need to wait at least an hour after you eat before drinking anything.

If you don’t, the liquids will quickly flush the food through your stomach. This can affect digestion, make you feel hungry and lead to weight gain after bariatric surgery.

To meet your liquid intake goals, keep some liquids next to you at all times and sip a little every 15 to 20 minutes outside of meal time.

Stay on track by getting a special container, measuring out your daily amount of fluids every morning and putting it in the fridge (or on the counter if you prefer your liquids at room temperature).

Spread your consumption throughout the day so that the container is empty before you go to bed.

5. Don’t snack