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What is a pre- and post-operative bariatric diet like?

One of the most common questions patients have for their bariatric surgeons is what type of diet they will need to follow before and after their surgery. While bariatric surgeons provide their patients with customized diets based on the specific surgery being performed and the individual’s unique health and lifestyle factors, most bariatric diets follow certain guidelines.

Below is a general outline of what you can expect a typical pre-operative and post-operative diet to look like.

Pre-surgery diet

Pre-surgery bariatric diets are typically high in protein and low in carbohydrates. This type of diet reduces bleeding, promotes healing and helps reduce the amount of fat in and around your liver and abdomen (an enlarged liver can make a surgery more difficult because it can obstruct the surgeon’s view).

Losing weight before surgery not only keeps you safer during the procedure, but it also helps train you for a new way of eating. Making lifelong changes to your eating is essential for success and lasting change.

The pre-op diet consists largely of protein shakes and other high-protein, low-calorie foods that are easy to digest. As your surgery date approaches, you may need to follow a mostly-liquid or liquid-only diet. Based on your weight and overall health, your doctor may allow you to eat some solids during this time. You may also need to take certain vitamins to ensure you’re receiving the proper nutrients.

Post-surgery diet

Post-surgery bariatric diets consist of several stages, and your doctor or dietician will determine how long each stage should last and what you can eat and drink. Portion control is key during every stage, as it is an essential habit that will help you continue to lose weight and prepare you for the way you will eat for the rest of your life.

Stage one: Liquid diet

For the first few days after surgery, you will only be allowed to drink a few ounces of clear liquids at a time. This will help your stomach heal without being stretched out by food. After clear liquids, you will graduate to additional types of liquid that may include:

  • Decaffeinated coffee and tea
  • Skim milk
  • Thin soup and broth
  • Unsweetened juice

Stage two: Pureed diet

Once your doctor decides you’re ready, you can begin consuming pureed foods that have a thick, pudding-like consistency. You can puree many foods with a food processor or blender. V-8 juice and first-stage baby foods that don’t contain solids are also convenient options.

Stage three: Soft diet

Most bariatric patients won’t move into this stage until between six and eight weeks after surgery. Once you’re ready, however, you will be able to start incorporating soft, easy-to-chew foods into your diet, such as:

  • Soft-boiled eggs
  • Ground meat
  • Cooked white fish
  • Canned fruits

Stage four: Stabilization

This final stage occurs when solid foods are reintroduced into your diet and usually begins around two months after surgery. Food will still need to be chopped into small bites, since your stomach will be smaller and large pieces of food can cause issues.

Foods will need to be reintroduced slowly in order to figure out which ones your stomach can handle and which ones it can’t. Foods that are hard to digest should still be avoided at this point. This includes fibrous or stringy vegetables, popcorn, bread, bread products and fried food.

A healthy diet for life

About four months after surgery, you may be able to resume eating normally. However, portion control will continue to be important and your diet should primarily consist of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy carbohydrates.

If you would like to find out if you qualify for bariatric surgery, sign up for a free informational consultation with a weight loss surgeon at Dallas Bariatric Center today.

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