Bariatric: 21, diet: 17, surgery: 5
Patients who have had bariatric surgery must follow a specific 4-stage bariatric diet as part of the recovery process and weight loss maintenance. Below is a brief description of the essential diet guidelines for nutrition post-bariatric surgery.
Bariatric diet stage 1: Clear liquids
For the first few days after bariatric surgery, you are required to consume a diet of only very clear liquids. This is to allow your stomach linings to heal and prevent opening of the incision.
Bariatric diet stage 2: Full liquids
For the next two weeks of your bariatric diet, you are allowed richer liquids. Since your stomach is much smaller, you will only be able to consume about ½ cup of liquids per meal. Eventually, your stomach should be able to accommodate a larger diet. During this stage of your bariatric diet, it’s important to include protein sources such as chicken broths and protein shakes, in order to encourage fat loss and maintain muscle mass.
Bariatric diet stage 3: Pureed foods
For the next 2-3 weeks of your diet, your stomach will still be in the healing process, so you will not yet be able to digest solid foods. However, you are allowed up to one cup per meal of pureed fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products. If you have a food processor or blender, then you can eat most of your favorite foods, as long as you puree them completely first. Good bariatric diet options include mashed potatoes, oatmeal, cottage cheese, eggs, and liver pate.
Bariatric diet stage 4: Maintenance
The final stage of the bariatric diet is your lifelong nutrition plan. You will have to develop new eating habits in order to keep the weight off and prevent side effects like “gastric dumping,” but by following these guidelines, you will be able to enjoy eating healthy, nutritious foods and incorporate post-bariatric surgery nutrition into your new life.
- Keep meals small, up to about one cup in size.
- Rather than trying to fill up in one meal, eat small snacks frequently throughout the day.
- Never allow yourself to get hungry, as it will be harder to make wise food choices.
- Drink water throughout the day, including before and after meals. For optimum digestion and to avoid vitamin deficiency, never drink fluids during a meal.
- Eat in small bites, and chew slowly, in order to avoid intestinal blockage.
- “Gastric dumping syndrome” occurs when food travels too quickly and clogs up your digestive system. This is caused by eating large amounts of food hurriedly. To avoid bariatric surgery dumping, eat small bites of food at a time and choose low-fat meals in your diet that digest easily.
- Bariatric surgery patients are at high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because bariatric surgery inhibits your ability to absorb vitamin B12 naturally from foods. In order to avoid severe nerve damage, cognitive impairments, and increased risk for heart attack and stroke, it is crucial to supplement with vitamin B12 shots, sublingual vitamin B12 tablets, or other forms of non-dietary over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements. Even if you eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin B12 in your diet, you will eventually deplete your stores of this crucial vitamin. Your bariatric surgery specialist can refer you for vitamin B12 blood testing, as well.