Now that you’ve had weight-loss surgery, you’ve taken a big step towards looking good, feeling good and getting healthy. However, before you can shed the pounds, you’ll need to recover from your surgery and familiarize yourself with your new diet.

After receiving gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy or Lap-Band® surgery, you’ll now feel full after eating less due to the reduced size of your stomach. We recommend a specific diet regimen that can help you heal after surgery. This diet will start while you’re in the hospital and continue for several weeks.

It’s important to follow the diet recommendations in order, as diverting from this plan can cause negative side effects such as vomiting, nausea, hair loss, depression, or even weight gain.

The steps below detail the kind food you should eat and what type of food to avoid. Your commitment to each diet and your physician’s recommendations determine how long you’ll stay on a particular step. The timeframes we provide are estimates. Follow each diet in combination with the steps described in the postoperative nutrition guide.

1. The Clear Liquid Diet (3-5 days)

Following your surgery, your doctor will determine when your body is well enough for clear liquids. Keep in mind, this may not occur immediately after surgery, as your body needs time to recover on its own. Once your doctor thinks you’re ready, we’ll start you on a diet consisting of:

  • Clear broth
  • Sugar-free Jell-O® and sugar-free popsicles
  • Water, Crystal Light® or Propel®

For now, your body will only tolerate between one to two ounces of liquid at a time. We’ll instruct you to sip an ounce of liquid at first and then move up to two ounces when you feel ready. It’s important to listen to your body and stop when you feel full. Don’t force yourself to finish everything in front of you.

All foods in this diet are sugar-free, caffeine-free and non-carbonated. To avoid vomiting or feelings of nausea, remember to sip all liquids versus gulping or chugging.

2. The Full Liquid Diet (2 weeks)

After you leave the hospital your diet will still consist of liquids, but by now you should be able to tolerate up to three-quarters of a cup of liquid at a time. We recommend measuring all portions before you drinking and using small utensils to force yourself to take smaller sips. In addition to clear liquids, you will be able to eat:

  • Cream of wheat or rice
  • Strained, fat-free cream soups
  • Fat-free yogurt with no fruit pieces or granola
  • Skim milk and sugar-free pudding
  • Whey protein shake

At this point, your body will need the right amount of nutrients to stay healthy. During this diet, you will begin your vitamin and mineral supplement intake as recommended by your doctor. Make sure you include one high-protein food, such as milk, whey protein or yogurt, with every meal and avoid eating foods with more than five grams of sugar. Reading food labels can help you identify the right kind of food to eat.

3. The Puréed Food Diet (4 weeks)

Once your body is ready, you’ll graduate to blended or puréed foods. This diet allows you to eat lean meats, vegetables or fruits as long as they are in liquid form. Be sure there are no solids in the foods you eat and avoid raw fruits or vegetables. These must be cooked or come canned, then puréed. Follow these instructions to properly blend your food:

  • Cut food into small pieces before placing in the blender
  • Add liquid such as broth or milk
  • Blend until smooth
  • Strain before drinking to remove any solids from your shake
  • Seasoning is acceptable, but avoid anything spicy

Sip meals slowly and do not use a straw. You can drink two to six ounces over a 30-minute period. Only drink fluids, such as water or sugar-free Kool-Aid, 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after meals, never during meals.

Remember to get enough protein and take your vitamins and mineral supplements everyday to receive the proper nutrients. We recommend making all meals yourself since you can’t control how much fat or sugars go into food from restaurants or other pre-made meals.

4. The Soft Food Diet (4 weeks)

Now you can begin to include soft, solid foods into your diet such as broiled, baked or grilled lean meats. Keep portions small and continue to eat six meals a day. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables and other “hard” foods such as popcorn or assorted nuts.

An important aspect to this diet is the way you chew your food. You will need to chew to the point where the food in your mouth is almost liquid. This may seem like you’re over-chewing, but this technique will allow you to digest solid food.

Eat slowly and dedicate 20 to 30 minutes to a meal to know whether or not you’re eating too quickly. Focus on the meal you’re eating and block out any distractions such as the TV or Internet. This will help you concentrate on chewing and you’ll also realize when you should stop eating after your stomach is full.

If at anytime during the meal you feel nauseated, stop eating and rest, but don’t lie down. You want to sit up so you can digest the food properly. Drink clear liquids for your next meal, then blended food for the following meal before trying soft food again.

Throughout the day, you’ll need to drink at least six to eight cups of water in between meals, but never during meals. As always, remember to get enough protein and take your vitamins and mineral supplements every day.

5. The Look Good, Feel Good Diet

The final step of your diet is a return to regular solid foods. Of course, this normal diet will not be like the one you had before surgery. This is your “new you” diet that will help you lose weight and keep it off. Changing your eating habits will bring you closer and closer to your ultimate weight-loss goal.

Remember to keep your portions small, chew all your food thoroughly, take your daily vitamins and mineral supplements everyday and focus on foods that are high in protein. The protein and supplements can help your body stay strong as you start your new exercise regimen. Add new foods to your diet slowly by trying it once and seeing how you feel after a day.

Your bariatric team wants you to participate in your new healthy lifestyle. We encourage our patients to join our free seminars and support groups and find ways to find long-term success.

If you have questions regarding your diet, please call 956-664-1616.