Helpful Tools & Resources

Nutrition Guidelines After Weight Loss Surgery

It is important to understand that all patients who have weight loss surgery must be committed to following a carefully prescribed program of nutrition and exercise.  This is a lifelong commitment designed to help you achieve and maintain weight loss as safely as possible.  Because the surgery changes your digestive system, it is important to make sure you select the right foods and fluids in the appropriate amounts to ensure proper nutrition following the operation.  There are also many eating techniques one must learn to aid in digestion (i.e. eating slowly and chewing thoroughly).

There are five diet stages after surgery. As a general rule, you will do best if you avoid foods high in sugar and fat, and eat foods that contain high-quality protein. A very brief description of the five diet stages is given here.

· Stage 1 is sips of water only. (duration - 1 day or less)

· Stage 2 is clear liquids that are low-sugar, non-carbonated, and decaffeinated. (duration - 1 day or less)

· Stage 3 consists of high-protein, low-fat, and low-sugar modified liquids. (duration - about 3-4 weeks)

· Stage 4 consists of pureed, soft foods that are high in protein. Portion control and proper chewing of food are important parts of this phase. (duration - about 3-4 weeks)

· Stage 5 - At about two months after surgery, you begin Stage 5. This is the stage you will stay on for life. It consists of foods that are low in sugar, saturated and trans fat, and contain high-quality protein. You will be shown how to measure and estimate food portions to ensure appropriate portion sizes.

If you are going to have weight loss surgery, you will meet with a dietitian before your operation and as scheduled throughout the recovery period. Follow-up is essential to achieving success. The dietitian will provide detailed nutrition information and individualize your nutrition plan. Some of the things you will learn about in detail include:

» Fluid - More than half of a healthy body consists of fluid. Because of your new, small stomach, after your surgery it will be necessary for you to take in smaller sips and drink every hour while you're awake. Your dietitian will talk about watching for signs of dehydration, including: headache, dry mouth, low urine output, and constipation. It is also important to avoid drinking fluids during meals because it may wash the food through the stomach pouch, which may lead you to become hungry soon after eating a meal.

» Protein - Your body needs protein to build and repair tissues, maintain healthy hair and skin, aid in digestion, and to carry on bodily functions to produce energy. Your dietitian will review how much and which types of protein (i.e. dairy, meat, fish, and soy) are the best choices for you after surgery.

» Carbohydrates - Carbohydrates are a good source of energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. As you progress in your diet plan, your dietitian will discuss the best sources of carbohydrates (i.e. complex carbohydrates: vegetables, beans, whole grains) to include in your diet.

» Fat - Fat provides energy; helps to absorb and transport vitamins A, D, K and E; plays a role in maintaining healthy nervous and immune systems; and helps you have healthy skin, hair, and nails. Not all fats are alike and your dietitian will review which types of healthy and essential fat to include in your diet.

» Vitamins and minerals - Depending on the type of surgery you have and your nutritional status, you will be advised as to which vitamin and mineral supplements you need in order to maintain good nutrition and health.

Your dietitian will guide you throughout the entire process.  By learning what to eat and drink, and in what amounts, you will be able to choose the right foods to help maintain a healthy weight.  Your small stomach pouch affects the amount you can take in at one time and the types of food you can comfortably eat.  For many people, this means the ability to eat large amounts of food is lost forever.  Many people will not be able to tolerate raw vegetables, bread, pasta, rice, or red meat after the surgery.

It is important to understand that in the months and years following surgery, overeating is still possible and can cause your small stomach pouch to stretch.   The surgery does not protect you from gaining weight if you take in a large number of calories from unhealthy food choices, frequent snacking/grazing, large meals, or not being active on a regular basis.  However, the surgery does help most patients to keep overall calorie intake in check, resulting in weight loss and the maintenance of a more healthy body weight.

From the Kitchen of BID-Milton

Try these healthy and flavorful recipes, courtesy of our Dietary Staff.