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Understanding the Bariatric Surgery Diet
The diet after weight loss surgery gradually progresses from liquids to purees to solid foods. Because your stomach size is actually reduced to about 1 cup or less, your meals are smaller. You need to eat more frequently throughout the day and you need to make sure you chew your food slowly and thoroughly so it doesn’t stick together and is therefore digested properly. You need more time to eat than you used to, but you’ll notice that you feel fuller with less food. You eat and absorb fewer nutrients than you did before surgery, so to prevent deficiencies, you must commit to a vitamin supplement regimen for the rest of your life.
After surgery, your pouch is swollen and your diet should gradually switch from clear liquids to solid foods to prevent discomfort and premature pouch stretching. This is done in the four main stages described below.
Phase 1, clear liquids: This phase begins the day after surgery and includes all liquids through which you can see, excluding alcohol.
Phase 2, full liquids: When you are able to tolerate clear liquids and have your surgeon’s blessing, you can add full liquids to your meal plan. These are identified as liquid or semi-liquid foods at room temperature.
Stage 3, smooth foods: These foods are blended in a blender until they are very soft and smooth in texture. This stage is also known as food purée.
Stage 4, soft foods: In this final phase before eating regularly, add solid but soft foods.
Specific dietary guidelines vary for each procedure and for each patient. What we discuss are some of the general dietary changes that weight loss surgery patients can expect after weight loss surgery.
Make healthy choices
By understanding a little about nutrition and applying what you know, you’ll feel healthier, look better, and have more energy.
Get what you need in smaller portions
A typical meal on a bariatric surgery diet includes protein-rich foods such as lean meats, eggs, and low-fat dairy products, as well as starches and whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Eating protein helps you feel fuller for longer. You will be able to eat a variety of foods, obviously in smaller portions. Since you’re only eating small portions of food, choosing healthy foods is very important. Nutrient-rich foods provide the most nutrition for the least amount of calories. To find nutrient-dense foods you need to check food labels to find out what a serving of the food is and how many calories and what nutrients are in a serving.
Drink enough water at the right time
Water is important because it flushes out toxins from the liver and kidneys, regulates body temperature, and reduces the risk of many cancers. It also aids in digestion, lubricates joints, allows you to use glycogen in your muscles, which provides energy, and helps eliminate hunger by taking up space in your purse. Before the surgery you received a large amount of water from the foods you ate. After surgery you don’t have the same ability to eat, which is why many post-surgery patients are prone to dehydration. You have to make sure you drink enough water. However, you also need to avoid eating and drinking at the same time because your new bag is too small to fit both liquid and solid foods.
Control of dietary guidelines
After you make the transition to solid foods, follow these dietary guidelines:
- Plan your meals.
- Eat three meals a day.
- Start each meal with a protein source.
- Chew, chew, chew every bite.
- Don’t overeat – stop before you feel full.
- Drink between each meal, not during meals.
- Don’t eat in front of the TV, in the car, or while reading.
- Keep healthy food available and leave the house with tempting unhealthy foods.
- If you’re going to a party, offer to bring a healthy meal to make sure you have something to eat.
- Pay attention to the taste of your food.
- Try not to eat at the end of the day.
- Use a food diary to keep track of what and when you eat and how you feel.
Finding out what foods your new pouch will tolerate after surgery is a matter of trial and error. Dumping syndrome, a common condition for patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery, occurs after eating foods high in sugar, fat, or sometimes dairy products or high-calorie liquids. It can cause nausea, diarrhea, lightheadedness, cold sweats, abdominal cramps, weakness and rapid heart rate. Many people who suffer from dumping find it a good incentive to avoid the foods that triggered the reaction for a while.
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