For millions of Americans, weight loss surgery gives them a new lease on life—literally. Weight loss (sometimes called bariatric) surgery can reduce or eliminate risks of developing diabetes or having a heart attack or stroke.
But there are a few things you need to know about your recovery from bariatric surgery. Because it changes the amount of food your stomach can hold, you need to be very aware of what you can eat and how much you can eat.
We’ll take a look at three things you need to know about eating after weight loss surgery.
Of course, everyone is different. Your doctor may have some variations on these principles, so be sure to follow their instructions to the letter.
1. You Won’t Start Eating Solid Food Right Away
You won’t start eating solid foods immediately after your surgery. Progressing to solid food depends upon how well you’re healing and how long it takes your body to adjust to your new eating patterns.
It may be three months after surgery before you can go back to eating “regular” foods.
The goal of your gastric bypass diet is to help you ease back into your typical foods.
The first few days after surgery, you should only drink clear liquids. If you have no problems, then you can progress to other things such as:
- Decaf coffee
- Juice (unsweetened)
- Skim or one percent milk
You can even have popsicles or gelatin as long as they are sugar-free.
Once your body can handle liquids, you can progress to pureed foods.
Make sure you select foods that puree well.
2. You’ll Eat Much Less
Your stomach is dramatically smaller. It simply won’t hold the amount of food that it did previously. Make sure your portions are perfectly controlled.
Even with the pureed diet, you’ll find most people should eat three to six small meals of pureed food a day— each meal should consist of four to six tablespoons of food only.
Later, as you progress to solid food, you’ll have no more than a half cup to one cup of food per meal.
Failure to follow these instructions means that you may not lose all the weight you need. Even worse, you may actually gain back weight you initially lost.
Because you eat much less, and the size and shape of your stomach has been changed, your body will be missing some important nutrients. This is why you’ll need to be on a regular series of supplements to ensure you aren’t missing any vital vitamins and minerals.
3. How You Eat Will Be Transformed
We’ve learned that there will be changes in what you eat and when you eat, but the very way you eat will be transformed.
For example, you’ll need to eat much slower than normal. This means taking at least 30 minutes to eat your meal. This will help ensure that you chew your food thoroughly.
You should also avoid eating and drinking at the same time. We suggest waiting a half hour before or after your meal to drink liquids.
It’s also important to stay hydrated. That means at least 8 cups of water a day.
If you don’t adjust how you eat, you can have miserable results, including nausea and diarrhea. In addition, if you don’t chew food thoroughly, it can become stuck at the opening of your new stomach pouch.
Other Important Aspects of the Gastric Bypass Diet
It’s also vital that you remember:
- Eat protein-rich foods that are lean every day.
- Don’t drink alcohol.
- Remember that caffeine can cause dehydration, so cut back on your cup of Joe.
- Chew all your foods completely and thoroughly.
Weight Loss Surgery Options
There are a lot of different surgical options. For some, the laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is ideal, where others may benefit from a sleeve gastrectomy.
A gastric bypass procedure creates a smaller stomach by separating the top part of the stomach. The small intestine is then positioned so it bypasses the larger portion of the stomach.
In a sleeve gastrectomy, 80 percent of the stomach is removed, creating a pouch that resembles a banana.
While they both accomplish the same purposes, there are some additional differences. We outline these in greater detail in our earlier article, “What Kind of Bariatric Surgery Is Right for You?”
How Much Is Weight Loss Surgery?
The good news is that most insurance companies will pay for some or most of the cost of weight loss surgery if you meet certain criteria.
But you should check with your insurance company first to be sure.
There are a lot of different policies, and benefits may change from year to year. That’s why we encourage each of our patients to contact their health insurance company to have a better idea of what is covered.
“Where Can I Find Weight Loss Surgery Near Me?” Conway Medical Center in Conway, NC
Would you like more information? Take a look at our extensive library of weight loss surgery resources.
With Conway Medical Center, our patients come first. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing the best possible care before, during and after bariatric surgery. We realize this is a complicated journey that will affect every aspect of your life. We want you to rest assured that we’re with you every step of the way.
It’s easy to schedule an appointment. Just contact us today to start living a healthier life.