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Bariatric Diet Stages print email
Bariatric surgery drastically changes the way your body stores and processes the food you eat. So, you need to be very careful as you re-introduce foods after surgery. And, you need to be diligent about maintaining proper nutrition in order to avoid complications such as malabsorption—which can cause your body to become deficient in important nutrients.

After your surgery, your Kennedy bariatric surgery team will help you to slowly re-introduce food through a step-by-step approach. Review the steps below to get an idea of how your diet will progress in the weeks and months following your bariatric surgery.

And remember, every person is different. Don't push yourself into the next phase too quickly. And be sure to track how your body reacts to different foods. You may find that you'll need to avoid certain foods. Your doctor and registered dietician will help you to tailor the post-surgery diet to fit your unique needs.

Step 1: Clear liquids

applejuice102696030When it starts: Usually 1 day after surgery, and after you've undergone an upper gastrointestinal (GI) "swallow test" to make sure you can swallow liquids.

How long it lasts: Approximately 2 weeks. However, the length of each stage varies. Always check with your doctor before moving on to the next diet stage.

What you'll eat: During this phase, you will be able to drink clear liquids that are sugar-free, caffeine-free, and non-carbonated. While you're in the hospital, you will receive diluted juice (2 oz. juice & 2 oz. water), broth, and diet gelatin on each tray.

Important tips and considerations:
  • Drink a minimum of 48 oz. of fluid per day to help prevent dehydration.
  • Don't gulp down liquids. Sip fluids at the rate of 1 to 2 oz. per hour (about the amount in a shot glass or medicine cup).
  • Don't sip out of bottles or straws. This can cause gas and lead to indigestion, bloating, and stomach discomfort.
  • Take all of the vitamin and mineral supplements your doctor has prescribed.
 

Step 2: Pureed foods

applesauce93428062When it starts: About 2 weeks after surgery.

How long it lasts: About 2 weeks. But remember, the length of each stage varies. Always check with your doctor before moving on to the next diet stage.

What you'll eat: During this phase, you'll move on to pureed foods (which have a smooth consistency and no lumps). Be sure to choose only low-fat and low-sugar foods. These may include:
  • fat-free (skim) milk
  • pureed poultry
  • mashed potatoes
  • unsweetened applesauce
  • plain light yogurt
  • sugar-free puddings
  • cream of wheat
  • baby food
Important tips and considerations:
  • You must eat highly nutritious foods. Since you're eating such a small amount of food, you need to make sure every calorie counts toward your nutrition goals.
  • Take all of the vitamin and mineral supplements your doctor has prescribed. And keep track of the amount of protein you're getting each day. You'll probably still need to supplement for protein.
  • Sip fluids throughout the day. Alternate beverages and meals at different times.
 

Step 3: Soft, cooked foods

cottagecheese96469305When it starts: About 3-4 weeks after surgery.

How long it lasts: About 2 weeks. But remember, the length of each stage varies. Always check with your doctor before moving on to the next diet stage.

What you'll eat: During this phase, you'll progress to eating soft, cooked foods. Start with foods like cottage cheese and progress to more textured foods when you're able to tolerate them. Foods may include:
  • cottage cheese
  • finely ground meats
  • soft fruits
  • well-cooked vegetables
  • unsweetened cereals
  • eggs
  • well-chopped chicken/tuna/egg salad (made with fat-free mayonnaise)
Important tips and considerations:
  • You must eat highly nutritious foods. Since you're eating such a small amount of food, you need to make sure every calorie counts toward your nutrition goals.
  • Sip fluids throughout the day. Alternate beverages and meals at different times.
  • Keep taking your vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Continue to choose low-fat or fat-free foods.
  • Eat several times throughout the day. But keep each meal to 1/2 to 3/4 cup of food or less.
  • Continue to keep track how much protein you're eating each day. You'll probably still need to supplement for protein.
 

Step 4: Solids and Maintenance

banana71059083When it starts: About 6-8 weeks after surgery.

How long it lasts: This is a lifelong way of eating after bariatric surgery.

What you'll eat: Once you're in this phase of your post-surgery diet, you will begin to add 1 new food at a time. You'll want to include the following foods in your diet to maintain proper nutrition:
  • Low-fat, high-protein foods.
  • Non-starchy, high-fiber carbohydrates such as oatmeal.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
Important tips and considerations:
  • Always consider textures of food, as well as nutritional value when planning your meals. For example, you should avoid steaks and hot dogs, especially if you've had the LAP-BAND® procedure.
  • Remember to eat high-protein foods first (aim for 3 to 4 ounces of protein at each meal).
  • Keep taking your vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Keep things interesting by trying a variety of new foods.
  • Eat slowly and carefully, taking time to chew each mouthful well. Each meal should take about 20 to 30 minutes to finish. And always stop eating when you feel full to avoid stretching your stomach pouch.
  • Keep meals to no more than 1 cup in size.
  • Keep a food diary to help you track any food intolerances as well as fluid and protein consumption.
  • Be sure to get physical activity. And always ask your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
  • Remember that bariatric surgery is only the first step on your journey to successful weight loss and improved health. You will need to continue to follow your bariatric diet for life.