Foods to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery

Foods to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery

Alex Brecher

What you eat after bariatric surgery affects your health and weight loss. Just as important as what you can eat after weight loss surgery is what you can’t. Knowing what foods cannot be eaten bariatric surgery can help you lose more weight and prevent discomfort such as symptoms of dumping syndrome. 

Here is information on what to eat and avoid after bariatric surgery. These are just general guidelines, though. As always, ask your own healthcare provider about the right choices for you

What Foods Cannot Be Eaten After Bariatric Surgery?

Foods that cannot be eaten after bariatric surgery include any food that is not allowed during the post-op diet progression stage you are in. For example, you can’t have raw apples on a semi-soft foods diet, and tuna fish isn’t allowed on a liquid diet.

Longer term, foods that cannot be eaten after bariatric surgery include foods that can be bad for weight loss. These may include high-calorie foods, foods that are not satisfying, or foods that are high in carbohydrates or fat. These are examples.

  • White bread and rice, refined pasta, and other refined starches.
  • Cookies, muffins, pies, cakes, and other sugar baked goods.
  • Ice cream, jam, pudding, and other sugary foods.
  • Potato chips, french fries, fried chicken, and other fried foods.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages and other beverages with calories.
  • Alcoholic beverages.

Fast food and highly processed foods may also be avoided.

You’ll have to avoid any foods that you can no longer tolerate after bariatric surgery, or that may disrupt your wound healing. Examples include

  • Dairy products with lactose, such as milk and some types of yogurt.
  • Poultry and meat.
  • Stringy vegetables and lettuce.
  • Popcorn and nuts.
  • Sugary foods.

Tolerances are individual, though, and you will need to see.

Can You Eat Bread After Bariatric Surgery?

It’s normal to ask if you can eat bread and other starches after bariatric surgery, especially if it has been a big part of your diet until now. Sandwiches, burritos, burgers, pizza, fried rice, spaghetti, lasagna, and chow mein are just a few common sources of bread, rice, and pasta that come in refined, or heavily processed, forms.

An early problem with bread after bariatric surgery is that it can become gummy when you chew and swallow it. Then it has the potential to stick on its way down. It can make you feel overly full or can cause burping. The same may be true for pasta and rice. 

You’ll have to ask your doctor whether you should try these foods, and when. They may be tolerable several months after surgery. It’s also good to keep in mind that having smaller amounts makes these foods less likely to be a problem. 

If it turns out that you can eat bread and other grains after bariatric surgery, these are some healthier ways to include them.

  • Keep portion sizes small. A half-ounce to an ounce of bread or a ¼ cup to ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta may be a good goal until you feel more comfortable eating these foods.
  • Choose whole-grain varieties, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, or whole-grain cereal. They’re higher in fiber and protein.
  • You may need to experiment with the best way to eat them for you. Some patients may prefer whole-grain toast or crackers to soft bread. Or you might find that very soggy cereal works for you, or that completely dry cereal is best.

Low-Carb Bread, Protein Pasta, and Low-Carb Rice, may allow you to use these products without gaining weight or having side effects.

Can You Eat Chocolate After Bariatric Surgery?

Chocolate is delicious, but can you eat it after weight loss surgery? It depends. One concern is that it may cause symptoms of heartburn. It’s got caffeine in it, and it’s an acidic food. You may need to ask your surgeon whether you can eat chocolate after bariatric surgery.

Another concern with chocolate is its effect on weight. Each ounce has 140 calories. That’s about 10 times the amount as in, say, cantaloupe! Sweetened chocolate also has added sugars. And if you think about the foods that chocolate is in, they’re often high in calories, sugar, and added fats and starches. Examples include ice cream, hot chocolate, brownies, chocolate cake, and chocolate truffles.

If you want to be able to include chocolate in your diet after bariatric surgery, you will need to consider heartburn, sugar, and calories. If you can handle it, a small square of dark chocolate may be okay as part of your bariatric surgery diet. It can satisfy chocolate cravings and provide antioxidants without putting you over calorie limits. You might also look for bariatric-friendly products such as Sugar-Free Chocolate, Chocolate Protein Shakes and Bars, and Protein Hot Chocolate.

What Can You Eat After Bariatric Surgery?

With all these foods that cannot be eaten after weight loss surgery, what can you eat? You need to know what to eat after bariatric surgery so that you can prepare for it. That way, you can figure out your meal plans and menus, and buy the foods and beverages you need to stay on track.

After bariatric surgery, you’ll follow a post-op diet that takes you through stages. First, you’ll have clear liquids, such as water, broth, and sugar-free ice pops and gelatin. That stage may last only a day or a couple of days. 

Then you can move to a full liquid stage. It can include cream soups, and juices, but will emphasize proteins, such as milk, Protein Shakes, Protein Soup, Protein Pudding, and Protein Gelatin. This stage can last for days or weeks.

You’ll next move to the pureed foods stage, which can last for weeks. After that, you can eat a wider variety of foods as long as they are soft. This is the semi-soft or semi-solid stage. When you are ready, you can begin to add back solid foods to your diet. The diet of solid, nutritious foods is what you can eat after bariatric surgery for the long term.

What to Eat During the Pureed Stage of Bariatric Surgery

The pureed stage of bariatric surgery may start a few days after surgery and last for 2 to 4 weeks. This stage includes the items in the full liquid stage, but also adds strained or pureed foods that have no chunks. 

Applesauce, mashed potatoes, hot cereals, and well-cooked or canned non-fibrous vegetables may be in this stage. Protein may come from the above liquids, as well as pureed cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, fish, ground turkey, egg whites, Protein Omelets, Protein Chili, and beans.

What to Eat After Bariatric Surgery

After getting through the post-op diet progression for bariatric surgery, you’ll follow a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It will also be low in calories until you reach goal weight.

Foods that you can eat after bariatric surgery may include:

  • Skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and tofu. 
  • Cottage cheese, non-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
  • Salad greens and other non-starchy vegetables.

The above foods make up the bulk of your plate, but you might also include other nutritious foods. Fruit, nuts, whole grains, and avocados in small amounts are among the foods to eat after bariatric surgery.

When thinking about what to eat after bariatric surgery, remember that it’s also important to stay hydrated. Low-calorie, non-carbonated beverages are best. Plain water, flavored water, ice water, low-sodium broth and Sipping Broth, and decaffeinated or Acid-Free Coffee and tea are also good choices.

How Many Calories Should I Eat After Bariatric Surgery?

Many bariatric surgery patients may aim to eat about 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day. In comparison, daily calorie intake before surgery may have been 2,000 to 3,000 or more calories. You should eat far fewer calories after bariatric surgery than you averaged before surgery because the reduction in calories is what lets you lose weight! 

Your surgeon or nutritionist may give you a daily goal for calories. It may be a specific amount of calories, or it could be a range of calories. Your goal may be the same as the goal for your provider’s other patients, or it may be more personalized. These are some factors that can affect your calorie goals after bariatric surgery. 

  • Your height. Taller people use more calories.
  • Your weight loss goal. The more pounds you have to lose, the lower your calorie goal may be.
  • Your goal rate of weight loss. You’ll need to eat fewer calories if you want to lose weight faster.
  • How much exercise or physical activity you do. More active people need more calories.

It’s not safe to go on a very low-calorie diet without a healthcare provider’s approval or supervision, so be sure you work with your doctor, surgeon, or nutritionist during this time.

Right after bariatric surgery, your calorie intake may be lower. You may have trouble eating as many calories when you are on a clear liquid diet. It may also be hard to get in many calories when you are still sore from surgery.

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