Diet After Surgery

How long will I be off of solid foods after surgery?

We recommend a period of four weeks or more without solid foods after surgery. A liquid diet, followed by pureed foods, will be recommended for at least four weeks until adequate healing has occurred. We will provide you with specific dietary guidelines for the best post-surgical outcome.

What are the best choices of protein?

Eggs, low-fat cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, fish, other seafood, chicken (dark meat), turkey (dark meat).

Why drink so much water?

When you are losing weight, there are many waste products to eliminate, mostly in the urine. Some of these substances tend to form crystals, which can cause kidney stones. A high water intake protects you and helps your body to rid itself of waste products efficiently, promoting better weight loss. Water also fills your stomach and helps to prolong and intensify your sense of satisfaction with food. If you feel a desire to eat between meals, it may be because you did not drink enough water in the hour before.

What is Dumping Syndrome?

Eating sugars or other foods containing many small particles when you have an empty stomach can cause dumping syndrome in patients who have had a gastric bypass where the stomach pylorus is removed. Your body handles these small particles by diluting them with water, which reduces blood volume and causes a shock-like state. Sugar may also induce insulin shock due to the altered physiology of your intestinal tract. The result is a very unpleasant feeling: you break out in a cold clammy sweat, turn pale, feel "butterflies" in your stomach, and have a pounding pulse. Cramps and diarrhea may follow. This state can last for 30-60 minutes and can be quite uncomfortable - you may have to lie down until it goes away. This syndrome can be avoided by not eating the foods that cause it, especially on an empty stomach. A small amount of sweets, such as fruit, can sometimes be well tolerated at the end of a meal.

Why can't I snack between meals?

Snacking, nibbling or grazing on foods, usually high-calorie and high-fat foods, can add hundreds of calories a day to your intake, defeating the restrictive effect of your operation. Snacking will slow down your weight loss and can lead to regain of weight.

Why can't I eat red meat after surgery?

You can, but you will need to be very careful, and we recommend that you avoid it for the first several months. Red meats contain a high level of meat fibers (gristle) which hold the piece of meat together, preventing you from separating it into small parts when you chew. The gristle can plug the outlet of your stomach pouch and prevent anything from passing through, a condition that is very uncomfortable.

How can I be sure I am eating enough protein?

Sixty to 70 grams a day are generally sufficient. Check with your dietitian to determine the right amount for your type of surgery.

Is there any restriction of salt intake?

No, your salt intake will be unchanged unless otherwise instructed by your primary care physician.

Will I be able to eat "spicy" foods or seasoned foods?

Most patients are able to enjoy spices after the initial 6 months following surgery.

Will I be allowed to drink alcohol?

You will find that even small amounts of alcohol will affect you quickly. It is suggested that you drink no alcohol for the first year. Thereafter, with your physician's approval, you may have a glass of wine or a small cocktail. Remember, however, these drinks are empty calories.

Will I need supplemental vitamins?

Yes, you will be required to take supplements for the rest of your life.

What vitamins will I need to take after surgery?

You will need to take a daily multivitamin for the rest of your life, as well as calcium. Some patients may require iron B12 or other supplements as well.

Is it important to take calcium, iron or trace elements?

Women are more susceptible to iron and calcium deficiency especially if they are still menstruating.   Therefore, women are likely to be placed on iron and calcium supplements in addition to their multivitamin. B12 injections are sometimes suggested if your B12 levels run low. B12 may also be taken orally or sublingually (under the tongue) by many patients.

Do I meet with a nutritionist before and after surgery?

We require patients to consult with a nutritionist before surgery. Counseling after surgery is also required to assure successful outcomes.

Will I get a copy of suggested eating patterns and food choices after surgery?

We provide patients with materials that clearly outline their expectations regarding diet and compliance to guidelines for the best outcome based on your surgical procedure.