Bariatric Surgery Diet Stages: What You Need to Know

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Bariatric surgery results in a complete overhaul of your digestive system. As a result, patients who undergo bariatric surgery will need to eat a diet that allows their digestive system to recover and get used to eating food again.

This diet is prescribed in stages that slowly reintroduce foods over time. The expectation is that the patient resumes eating but with a much healthier and much lower calorie diet after their body has fully healed from surgery. Here are the bariatric post-op diet stages that you need to know about.

NOTE: These stages may not be the exact stages that your surgeon has you go through. Take this article as a guideline, rather than a prescription for how to eat. Every patient’s needs are different, and every surgeon recommends a slightly different version of the diet.

What Are The Bariatric Diet Stages?

Phase 1: Clear Liquids

Once you have been cleared to leave the hospital, you will have to continue on a liquid diet for several days to a week depending on your doctor’s recommendation.

Your digestive system is still quite weak and is unable to tolerate most foods. However, you still need to stay hydrated.

Acceptable Foods

  • Water
  • Non-carbonated sugar free beverages
  • Thin broth
  • Sugar free Jell-O

Phase 2: Pureed Foods

After your liquid diet, you’ll be able to eat some foods again. However, you won’t be able to eat them whole: instead, many of these foods will need to be blenderized in order to be acceptable to your stomach.

At this stage, you’ll be adding protein shakes into your diet. Protein shakes will help you meet your protein goals and provide you with necessary nutrition. This phase is expected to last about 2 weeks.

Acceptable Foods

  • Blended fruits & vegetables without seeds, rinds, or roughage
  • Skim milk
  • Skim plant milks
  • Protein shakes
  • Yogurt
  • Low-fat blended soups

Phase 3: Soft Foods

After eating a diet made up mostly of blended foods, you’ll be able to introduce soft foods into your diet. Soft foods are those that don’t require too much chewing and can be digested with little difficulty. This phase is expected to last 2 to 4 weeks.

Acceptable Foods

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Ground meat
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Baked fish

Phase 4: Reintroduction

As your body gets used to soft foods, you’ll be able to reintroduce foods back into your diet. Some foods will remain off-limits, and others will be OK to eat in small amounts.

It’s highly recommended that you reintroduce foods very slowly, and keep your portions of reintroduced foods very small. Continue eating soft foods while you reintroduce new foods.

All foods can be introduced, but these foods should be avoided at this stage:

  • Foods high in fat & deep fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Highly caffeinated beverages

Patients can opt to follow a vegetarian diet after bariatric surgery, as well.

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