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Bariatric Diet After Surgery

Bariatric surgery is not a cure for obesity, but it is a powerful tool to regain control of your health. Weight loss surgery must accompany a healthy diet and regular exercise for lifelong weight management. 

At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, we provide you with detailed bariatric meal plans so you know what to eat after bariatric surgery. We also offer the guidance and support you need to stick to your new diet and achieve success.

Your post op bariatric diet

You follow a five-phase eating and drinking plan over the first six weeks following surgery. We’ll recommend liquids and foods that help you meet your nutritional needs. Sticking to your post-bariatric surgery diet will help you recover from surgery, kickstart your weight loss and reduce the risk of postoperative side effects.

  • While in the hospital, you consume only clear liquids that don’t contain caffeine, carbonation or sugar. Take small sips and avoid drinking too fast. Keep a daily record of your fluid intake, including the amount you consume, to ensure you drink between 48 and 64 ounces daily. 

    Clear-liquid options include: 

    • Water
    • Sugar-free sports drinks
    • Broth
    • Sugar-free gelatin
    • Sugar-free popsicles
  • Most people can transition to full liquids once they arrive home from the hospital. Full liquids are thin, pourable foods. This phase of your diet will last about two weeks. You should aim to get 60 grams of protein each day. Adding protein powder to liquids can help you reach this goal. You should continue to avoid caffeine, carbonation and sugar. 

    Full-liquid options include: 

    • Protein drinks 
    • Skim milk or unsweetened nut milks
    • Yogurt
    • Cream soups (no chunks)
    • Pudding
    • Cream of wheat or cream of rice cereal

    At the end of Phase 2, you can start taking a crushed or liquid multivitamin with iron each day, as well as calcium citrate with Vitamin D three times daily. Your care team will tell you when it’s safe to begin bariatric vitamins and supplements.

  • About two weeks after surgery, you can eat foods with the consistency of applesauce (no chunks) or baby food. This phase of your diet will last about a week. You should aim to get more than 60 grams of protein each day. Remember to drink 64 ounces of liquid each day. Don’t force yourself to keep eating – stop as soon as you feel full. 

    Phase 3 food options include: 

    • Fat-free refried beans or mashed lentils 
    • Fat-free ricotta cheese
    • Full liquids
    • Mashed or blenderized chicken or tuna
    • Mashed vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli or cauliflower 
    • Powdered peanut butter (a little water added)
    • Puréed cottage cheese
    • Yogurt
  • You can transition to a soft diet three weeks after your procedure. Stick to moist, soft foods that are mashable with a fork – nothing tough or stringy. You should still avoid breads, rice, pasta, and fruits and vegetables with tough skins. As in Phase 3, you should consume at least 60 grams of protein each day. 

    This phase of your diet lasts about a week, but you can extend it according to your needs. Some people choose to continue a soft diet for several months after bariatric surgery. By this stage, you should be taking bariatric supplements regularly (as directed by your dietitian). 

    Phase 4 food options (with a focus on proteins) include: 

    • Lean proteins, such as chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, tofu and beans
    • Non-starchy, well-cooked vegetables such as carrots, spinach and squash
    • Carbohydrates such as oats, high-fiber cereal and soft fruits
    • Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado and tuna
  • You can begin a regular, healthy diet of solid foods as soon as one month after your procedure as long as you feel ready. Phase 5 includes three meals and two protein shakes or snacks each day. You should adhere to this diet for the rest of your life with a continued focus on lean proteins and produce. 

    You can gradually reintroduce certain types of bread, pasta and rice into your diet in small quantities. You may still need to avoid tough meats, certain kinds of raw produce, nuts, seeds and popcorn. 

    This lifelong diet should continue to focus on:

    • Protein intake (more than 60 grams each day)
    • Hydration (drink at least 64 ounces of fluids each day)
    • Bariatric vitamins and supplements

Are you a candidate?

We invite you to take the next step to find out more about your weight loss options.