Renew Bariatrics Presents: A Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Diet Plan

liquid diet

Nutritional Guidance Post-Bariatric Surgery

Understanding the Importance of Nutrition After Bariatric Surgery 

If you’ve recently undergone bariatric surgery, the recovery period truly tests your body’s ability to heal and also adjust to a new future of eating. 

A bariatric-friendly diet is designed to help your stomach heal from surgery without stretching itself too thin while you recover. It also helps aid in weight-loss and prevents weight gain while getting your body used to smaller, more manageable amounts of food that your body can safely digest. 

Essential Nutrients and Vitamins for Post-Surgery Health 

Throughout all stages of recovery, it is recommended to take a complete multivitamin, specifically one with high levels of calcium, iron, and vitamins D, C, and B12, as these will greatly make up for the loss of regular nutrients. 

Meal Planning for Bariatric Surgery Success

The Role of Protein in Healing and Weight Loss 

Proteins are an essential component of post-surgery healing. Amino acids within food proteins are helping to repair muscle damage that, in turn, heals expediate the healing process. 

Recommended Sources of Fiber for Bariatric Patients 

Depending on the stage of diet, you should be trying to incorporate as much fibre as possible into your diet––whether via fibre supplements, a multi-vitamin, soft breads and grains or in a protein shake.

Tips for Avoiding Gastrointestinal Discomfort 

Throughout all stages of bariatric surgery recovery (even if you are eating solid foods), the best way to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort is by consuming a balanced diet full of fibrous fruits and vegetables. Avoid spicy, fried and/or fatty foods and eliminate caffeine, alcohol and high-sugar sodas and drinks.

Stages of the Bariatric Surgery Diet Plan

The Liquid Diet: Guidelines and Suitable Options

Stage 1: Clear liquid diet

Immediately following surgery, you will start the clear liquid diet. The purpose of this stage is hydration and ensuring that you are not irritating the stomach so soon after your procedure. 

Clear liquids include water, broth/consommé and sugar-free gelatin.

Stage 2: Full liquid diet

After 1 to 3 days on the clear liquid diet, you will move on to a full liquid diet. During this stage, it is important to recapture the loss of nutrients and proteins––doing so will help strengthen your system, including building muscle mass and replenishing energy––while also preventing additional stomach irritation. This diet typically lasts up to 14 days. 

Liquids at this stage include everything from the clear liquid stage, plus protein shakes and milk products (provided you are no lactose intolerant)

liquid diet after bariatric surgery

Stage 3: Soft food diet

After two weeks of post-surgery recovery, you should now be ready to move to soft, or pureed foods (typically the consistency of baby food). 

Making hydration and protein consumption the primary goal of this diet, you’ll want to continue drinking shakes––but you’ll also introduce solid proteins into your main courses. Foods like eggs, hummus and soft meats like tuna and chicken. This diet typically lasts up to 14 to 21 days, until you are ready to begin incorporating soft food with harder textures (like applesauce, pureed vegetables, even soft breads and grains). 

Introducing Soft Foods: How to Choose the Right Foods for Stage 3 

At this crucial stage of the bariatric recovery process, it is still important to adhere to a strict diet (even if you feel like you are recovering fast). Introducing soft foods to your regimen provides the necessary levels of hydration and proteins that your body has been missing during the previous stage. 

When it comes to soft foods, try  to eat three to five small meals a day––with each meal consisting of one-third to one-half cup of food. For best results and to avoid indigestion or difficulty swallowing, chew each bite until the food is pureed 

The best types of soft foods for your stage 3 recovery include:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Ground lean meat or poultry (remove skin)
  • Eggs
  • Cooked or dried cereal
  • Rice
  • Flaked fish (remove skin)
  • Canned or soft fresh fruit (remove seeds and/or skin)
  • Cooked vegetables (remove skin)

Stage 4: Regular diet

After the soft food diet stage, or about seven to eight weeks after surgery, you’ll be able to start a regular, post-procedure diet. The biggest takeaway from this stage is that you’ll have established a new “full” sensation––and it will be drastically different from pre-surgery days. By comparison, it will take very little for you to be satisfied by food. 

Based on your healing process, you can return to eating all the same types of food you enjoyed in the past. But slower. And with a greater emphasis on clean, healthy eating smaller portions. 

FAQs: Bariatric Diet Plan Essentials

What are the key components of a bariatric-friendly diet? 

A bariatric-friendly diet is designed to gradually introduce you back onto solid foods while helping you to adjust to your newfound feeling of full. Key components of a bariatric-friendly diet include learning to:

  • Eat and drink more slowly 
  • Limit the size of meals,
  • Limit the frequency of food consumption 
  • Remain hydrated between meals
  • Chew food more thoroughly 
  • Reduce or eliminate foods that are high in fat, sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  • Incorporate vitamin and mineral supplements

How does the bariatric diet plan change through different post-surgery stages? 

Stage 1: Clear liquid diet (lasts 1 to 3 days)

Stage 2: Full liquid diet (lasts up to 2 weeks)

Stage 3: Soft food diet (lasts up to 2 weeks)

Stage 4: Regular diet (can begin 4 to 6 weeks after procedure) 

What kind of foods are included in a bariatric soft diet menu?

It is best to avoid eating foods that contribute to dumping syndrome (where foods reach the small intestine quickly and in large amounts, resulting in nausea, dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea). A bariatric soft diet menu can included foods like:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Ground lean meat or poultry (remove skin)
  • Eggs
  • Cooked or dried cereal
  • Rice
  • Flaked fish (remove skin)
  • Canned or soft fresh fruit (remove seeds and/or skin)
  • Cooked vegetables (remove skin)

Overcoming Common Challenges

Coping with Hunger and Cravings Post-Surgery 

Food cravings are one of the biggest challenges post-bariatric surgery. If you want to ignore the tiny voices telling you to indulge, try engaging in other creative or recreational pursuits, or go for a walk when the urge for comfort food arises––channel energy into exercising, or take up a new hobby.

Strategies for Dining Out and Social Events 

Post-bariatric surgery should never serve as a limit or barrier to socializing. Eating out with friends is a great way to get back to normal following your procedure. When dining, there are several strategies you can adopt to remain faithful to your diet, including:

  • Planning your restaurant meal ahead of time
  • Ordering smaller portions
  • Replacing starchy sides with vegetables 
  • Asking the chef for a modified menu
  • Limiting restaurant dining to once or twice a week

There are also a number of restaurants––including fast food eateries––that have dedicated bariatric-friendly menu options. 

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