Having weight loss surgery is one thing. Following a bariatric diet for the rest of your life is another.
Surgeons know surgery, but dietitians know food. I'll tell you what to eat, and how to do it.
It's one thing to talk about what to eat after surgery and a whole other thing to do it. I'll simplify what to eat, and then help you apply that knowledge whether you're in your own kitchen, a restaurant, or eating on the run. Finally! An answer to "what can I eat on the diet after weight loss surgery?!"
This website is where I get to share my 30 years of experience as a dietitian and my expertise in bariatric nutrition to inspire you with professional, practical advice, creative menu ideas, and strategies to implement healthy eating habits once and for all.
I specialize in:
Whether you have a gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or gastric band, you’ll be following a "bariatric diet" from the moment you open your eyes after surgery thru the rest of your life.
While the bariatric surgical procedures are anatomically different from each other, the journey before and after any kind of weight loss surgery is very similar.
I’ve thus coined the term:
This is how the journey looks...regardless of which procedure you have...from the time you start to prepare for surgery thru all the years beyond:
The months before weight loss surgery and the diets you're generally required to follow can be broken down like this:
3-6 Months Prior To Surgery
Whether or not your insurance requires 3-6 months of medically supervised weight loss visits before surgery, plan to use this time to start eating better and losing weight. Preop weight loss has been linked to a reduction in post op complications. Also, it's well known that losing 5-10% of your weight can significantly reduce comorbid conditions like high blood pressure or blood sugar.
While it's common to want to have a “food funeral,” to say goodbye to all your favorite foods one last time, this “last supper” mentality is a bad idea because it can lead to fast weight gain. You're more likely to have complications and need a longer hospital if you gain weight before surgery.
Think “Prehab” vs “Rehab.”
The months leading up to surgery are the times to do your BEST eating, not your worst.
Prehabilitation, aka Prehab, is a strategy to begin “rehabilitating” before surgery versus waiting until after.
In the case of the bariatric diet, getting in a "prehab" mindset means using the time before surgery to start eating better, losing weight, establishing good behaviors, and correcting possible nutrient deficiencies...instead of waiting until afterward to do so. TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life. Not the day after surgery ;)
Short Term Liver Reducing Diet
1-2 weeks prior to the actual operation,
your surgeon will most likely ask you to follow a very low calorie, high protein
“liver shrinking diet.”
Your liver is located above your stomach, so the surgeon must lift it out of the way. Having a smaller liver makes the surgeon’s visualization better during surgery. If he/she has an easier surgery, YOU have an easier surgery😉
Obviously, it’s going to take some time to recovery.
The recovery phase refers to the first few months after surgery. You’ll progress through a series of bariatric diet stages starting with clear liquids and advancing to solid foods over time.
Read more about the Post Op Diet.
This phase is definitely the most exciting, and I think it’s the one everyone dreams about when contemplating weight loss surgery. This is also called the “Honeymoon Phase.” Weight comes off easily, usually quickly, and you don’t feel hungry. The bariatric diet seems like a breeze in this phase.
You’re excited, motivated, and if someone offers you a favorite dessert or snack food it’s easy to decline.
You have no problem eating small portions in this phase, and even when others eat “bad food” in front of you, you’re not interested in the least.
Even if you “slip” and indulge in something you know you really shouldn’t be eating in this phase, you quickly realize you can only eat a very small portion of it and rationalize that it’s ok. But STOP right there…
It’s NOT OK to think like that.
The honeymoon will come to an end. Portion control won't always be as easy as it is in the honeymoon phase.
Bariatric surgery won’t help you control portions of the wrong foods in the long run. In the honeymoon period it will, but not in the long term.
The goal after surgery isn’t to just eat smaller portions of the same foods that got you into the predicament in the first place. That’s the wrong way to use the surgery and that's not what the weight loss surgery diet is all about.
While you're in the honeymoon phase and motivation is high, it's the time to make the diet and lifestyle changes you were so excited about making before you ever had surgery. Surgery helps you control portions of the RIGHT foods…
…lean proteins, healthful quality carbs, and healthy fats.
If you never overhaul your diet after weight loss surgery and regularly opt for healthier foods, you’ll jump straight into the weight re-gain phase.
The Rapid Weight Loss/Honeymoon Phase may last from 6 months - 2 years.
While that’s a pretty big range, the take home message is that it eventually will come to an end. So this phase is the time to enjoy your almost seamless weight loss and to work on overhauling your diet at the same time.
You’ll only experience the Rapid Weight Loss/Honeymoon Phase of the bariatric diet once, so make the most of it while you can!
Weight loss slows and eventually stops at the end of the honeymoon period.
You may find that food starts to look good again or your resolve isn’t as strong as it used to be. You may even start to feel a little hungrier than before.
If you haven’t started establishing new
healthy habits by now, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal!
From here forward you have the rest of your life to work on maintaining the lost weight. If you start slipping into old eating habits, it’s possible to move to the weight regain phase.
You’ve probably heard stories about “that person” who had weight loss surgery and gained all their weight back.
I don’t think anyone goes into surgery thinking they’re going to be that person. But someone always is. And I guarantee they never thought it would be them. And you might think it will never be you. But it could be.
Bariatric surgery is just a tool. It’s not a guarantee you’ll lose weight.
It’s kind of like owning a watch. Owning one doesn’t automatically make you on time. You have to use it correctly.
One particular brand of a watch won’t make you on time any more than a different brand. Again, it’s how you use it.
And so it is with bariatric surgery. Regardless of whether you have the gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or gastric band, you own a tool. How compliant you are with the bariatric diet afterward is up to you.
Weight regain is possible if you don’t do YOUR part.
Now that you know all this, it doesn't necessarily ensure appropriate action. Learning what the weight loss surgery diet involves is the just the first step.
Sometimes there’s a huge gap between the 2 mountains of “knowing” and “doing.”
This is where I come in. I share my practical tips and pro strategies here to assure you easily and consistently implement what you need to do. And if you need a little extra help, I can work with you virtually. I’ll be your personal bariatric diet guide!
I show you What to Do, and How to Do It. Simply.
Weight loss surgery isn't magic.
You’ll need to do your part. I’ll help you! 😊
Suzette Kroll, RDN