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Proper Nutrition Matters, Even After Bariatric Surgery

Published on April 2, 2012

We hear often that bariatric surgery is a “quick fix” or an “easy way out.” Well, we’ve discussed time and again in this blog just how untrue those statements really are. Bariatric surgery patients MUST commit to hard work if they’re going to be successful in achieving lasting weight loss, ESPECIALLY after surgery. We know that the two most important ways to achieve success are through exercise and a proper diet. In honor of last month as National Nutrition Month, I thought it appropriate to dedicate this post to the nutritional factors that are most important in the life of a person who has undergone bariatric surgery.

Once a patient has achieved the milestone of a return to solid foods after surgery, they’re often faced with significant challenges. Whereas food choices before surgery weren’t usually something they heavily considered, now they must look at each piece of food they put into their mouths in a whole new light. While most good bariatric surgery programs will provide patients with their lists of food do’s and don’ts, there are some general rules to follow that we’ll outline here. That way, no matter where you’re at in your post-op journey, you can bookmark this blog post and refer back to it when the world of food options becomes too overwhelming.

First and foremost, especially depending on your procedure type, you should ALWAYS take the vitamins and supplements your doctor has advised you to. Your nutritional needs are different now and they must be well-met in order for you to remain healthy.

Taking in enough liquids is also important to the overall quality of your diet. Aim for 64 ounces each day.

Whatever you eat, eat it slowly. The new pouch created for you is still a muscle. Stretching it beyond its capacity at each meal can result in “dumping” and eventually, can increase the size of the pouch, effectively reversing all the hard work you’ve put in so far.

To achieve and maintain significant weight loss, higher levels of protein are recommended for most bariatric surgery patients. Great sources include lean meats and poultry, eggs and tofu.

Soft cooked vegetables and fresh fruits are important components to a healthy, balanced diet.

Milk and dairy items can be incorporated into a bariatric diet in the form of non-fat or 1% milk, Greek, non-fat or low-carbohydrate yogurts and low-fat cottage and other cheeses.

Appropriate fats include olive or canola oil, nut butters and small portions of avocado.

Your best bet with beverages are water and decaffeinated coffee or iced tea and sugar free drinks.

As important as the foods you should consume, so are the foods you should avoid when keeping with a bariatric diet.
These include:

High-fat meats and fried foods.
Whole milk, ice cream and milkshakes.
Canned fruit in syrup.
Sweets, French fries and sweetened cereals or granola bars.
Caffeinated, carbonated and sweetened beverages, fruit juice and smoothies.

I hope you find this information useful as you continue to navigate your new lifestyle after bariatric surgery. With time, we can change our habits and much of what is outlined here will become second nature with commitment and practice. If you have any bariatric-friendly recipes or resources, please don’t hesitate to share them with us in the comments section of this blog or on our Facebook page. Together, we can help patients achieve the utmost success after surgery.

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