Bariatric food: what can I eat after weight loss surgery?

Bariatric food: what can I eat after weight loss surgery?

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Eating after weight loss surgery is one of the most popular topics that patients discuss at consultations, but many people don’t realise that your diet doesn’t have to drastically change after a weight loss procedure. As long as you stick to some guidelines, you can generally eat everything that you used to eat before – just less of it!

All of the weight loss procedures including the gastric band, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass and ESG (non-surgical sleeve) work mainly by limiting the amount of food that you can eat. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the food that you eat is rich in the nutrients that your body needs.

Let’s take the gastric sleeve for example. With a sleeve, around 80% of your stomach is removed. The food you eat will still enter and exit the stomach in the same place as it did before but you won’t be able to each as much. It’s this reduced capacity of the stomach that encourages weight loss and changes in gut hormones that helps to suppress the appetite.

After your procedure, it’s imperative that you stick to the phased approach before getting back to normal eating to allow the stomach tissues to heal properly. The general rule is that immediately after surgery, you should have 2 weeks of liquids followed by 2 weeks of soft/pureed food before returning to solids. Liquids can include meal replacement shakes or soups and purees must include very soft foods such as overcooked veg, runny scrambled eggs or semolina. 

Keep it balanced and healthy

Reducing the size of our plates means that we need to make sure everything on there is nutritious, healthy and tasty. As you’ll be eating less, every mouthful matters! Make sure the foods that you eat are high in protein and low in sugar. We encourage you to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meat and fish.

It’s important to eat slowly and chew your food properly to ensure we avoid a ‘stuck episode’, mostly associated with the gastric band. This means that the food is too large to pass through the band into the main part of the stomach. Also, when we eat slower, we give the body more time to tell us that we’re full, ensuring we don’t overeat.

Heather Fry is Healthier Weight's dietitian

Heather Fry BSc (Hons) Dietetics

Heather has over 9 years of experience in the field of bariatrics and knows everything there is to know about maintaining the right diet to get the most from your procedure. Here, she has provided some examples of tasty and balanced meals to try post bariatric surgery.

Easy Ready Brek by dietitian Heather Fry, perfect for after weight loss surgery

Breakfast for pureed stage

Reaching your protein requirement can be difficult during the pureed phase post-op. This small serving of Ready Brek gives an amazing 13g of protein! Why not give it a go? Mix 15g Ready Brek (or fine porridge oats) with 75ml cow’s milk and 2 heaped tablespoons of skimmed milk power. If it’s too thick, just add more milk. This meal is perfect for bypass and sleeve patients in the pureed stage.

Curried chicken and potato

Marinate some chicken in natural yogurt with curry spices for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Bake this with halved new potatoes and add red onion, cherry tomatoes and coriander once cooked for an extra kick. Had a bypass or sleeve? Aim for half of your portion to be chicken to help reach your protein requirements. Had a band? Bulk up more on the veggies…add as many different ones as you like! How many colours can you get in 1 dish? Enjoy!

Curried chicken and potato by dietitian Heather Fry, perfect for after weight loss surgery
Chicken and vegetable stir fry by dietitian Heather Fry, perfect for after weight loss surgery

Chicken and vegetable stir fry

Why not try a chicken and vegetable stir fry with wild rice instead of noodles? Wild rice has a low glycaemic index which means you won’t get a quick increase in your blood glucose levels – keeping you satisfied for longer. And it tastes good too! Perfect if you have a band, bypass or a sleeve – it’s crunchy and high in protein.

Physical vs emotional hunger

Weight loss surgery is very effective at controlling the physical feelings of hunger. However, in the beginning, perhaps the most difficult skill to learn is how to tell the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

Emotional hunger is the sense of wanting or needing to eat regardless of whether we are actually hungry or not. This can be due to boredom, or simply just being sociable. We’re often asked the question, “will it seem rude to eat less than everyone else?”. At first, you may find this more tricky to overcome, but once you establish the boundaries between physical and emotional hunger, you’re well on your way to success.

Take it slow

It’s really about finding a way to slow down your eating enough that you stop eating when you are no longer hungry, rather than when you are full. What’s the difference, you may ask? Well, there is a point before we are full when we are satisfied and no longer hungry. The thing is that we generally eat large mouthfuls and eat them so quickly that we pass the ‘no longer hungry’ phase and go straight to ‘full’.

A great way to recognise the ‘no longer hungry’ stage is to use an egg timer when eating your meals. Studies have shown that this increases weight loss results. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, take a morsel of food (morsel, not mouthful – a morsel is generally regarded as being the size of a 20p piece)
  2. Chew carefully for 15-20 seconds
  3. Swallow
  4. Wait 30 seconds (turn the 30-second egg timer over)
  5. Take the next morsel
  6. Chew
  7. Continue to repeat the process until you are no longer hungry

Georgina used to suffer from Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), a rare condition in which fluid in the skull places pressure on the brain, if she didn’t do anything about it, she could have gone blind.

Her gastric bypass procedure has allowed her to lose over 7 stone and her IIH has been reversed. She’s now able to live a happier and healthier life whilst maintaining her incredible weight loss. The pictures above were taken in March 2021.

Her story is amazing, and what’s more, she’s still eating all the things that she loves, just less of it! She shared with us some of the delicious meals that she’s been cooking over lockdown(s).

Other than being more careful in what you put on your plate, and regulating how you consume your foods, there are really no other ‘rules’ to be successful – apart from getting sufficient exercise, of course.

If you’re thinking of taking back control of your weight, why not speak to our team to discuss the surgical and non-surgical options available to you? Or fill in the form below to get a quote for a happier and healthier life.

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    Last review: 28/05/2021. All content on this page is reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team lead by Mr Rishi Singhal.

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