Gastric Band Diet

Image of consultant bariatric surgeon, Mr Rishi Singhal

Medically reviewed by Prof Rishi Singhal MBBS, MRCS, FRCS, MD  
By Heather Fry BSC (Hons)

Following Your Gastric Band Operation

A liquid diet should be consumed for the first 2 weeks following your gastric band operation. This is to allow time for your body to heal and recover. If you move onto foods too quickly, it can put pressure on the gastric band, which may cause early slippage. Please note that post-operative advice may vary between surgeons – if you are unsure of what to do, please contact us.

What is Considered a Liquid?

A liquid is any fluid that will pass easily through a straw. However, please do not use a straw as this can cause discomfort from taking in too much air. There are many examples in this guide that are suitable for you in this phase.

How Much Should I Drink Each Day?

You want to make sure you are meeting your fluid requirements. Fluid requirements vary from person to person, so keep an eye on the colour of your urine. It should be a light-yellow colour 4-5 hours after you wake up. On average, a good fluid intake is 2 litres per day. This will include water, meal replacement shakes, or soups. Aiming for this amount will help reduce the chance of constipation, which is very common after surgery.

What Can I Drink?

Following surgery, you will be advised to follow a high-protein diet. It’s likely you’ll need to aim for 70-80g of protein per day to ensure your body can heal well. Focus on high-protein liquids first. Some examples of high-protein fluids are:

  • 200ml cow’s milk (includes lacto-free milk) with 1 heaped tablespoon of skimmed milk powder (13g) added (11g protein).
  • 200ml soya milk (6g protein).
  • Meal replacement shakes (protein content varies from 12g to 26g per shake).
  • ½ can (200g) lentil/pea and ham/bean soups thinned with milk or stock and 1 tbsp skimmed milk powder (9-11g protein).
  • 200ml of any other flavour of soup (at the right consistency) with 2 tbsp of skimmed milk powder added (>9g protein).
  • Any protein shakes (protein content varies from 12g to 26g per shake).
  • Smooth high-protein yoghurts thinned down with milk or water to a thin consistency (around 20g protein).

Other fluids you can drink freely are:

  • Water
  • Tea (including fruit and herbal)
  • Coffee
  • No added sugar squash
  • No added sugar -flavoured water

There are some drinks you might enjoy, but limit to 1 or 2 per day as they can be high in salt or sugar but low in protein:

  • Bovril/Marmite/Oxo
  • Light malted drinks
  • 100ml fruit smoothie or fresh fruit juice (diluted 50:50 with water)

 

Will I Be Able to Drink Normally?

Drinking in the early stages following surgery will be very different from how it was before. You will need to take your time and drink slowly. It’s best to take frequent small sips throughout the day. A good habit to get into is waiting 20 to 40 seconds between sips. Getting used to this now will help when you start to reintroduce food. The ideal serving size is about 200ml — don’t over-face yourself with anything bigger. It’s quite normal for this volume to take up to 30 minutes to drink when you’re drinking so slowly. Don’t leave long gaps between having a drink — spread your intake out evenly during the day. It will reduce the feeling of lightheadedness or nausea and keep your digestive system stimulated. You might find you can drink a bit quicker than what we have described above, and that’s okay. Everyone is different, but the main thing is to avoid any discomfort or pain.

What Should I Avoid?

There are a few things you need to avoid during this phase to prevent any pain or problems:

  • Sloppy, soft foods, and solid food. Introducing food too soon can be dangerous.
  • Sugary drinks such as flavoured water, squash, and still-ready mixed fruit drinks. Sugar-free or no added sugar options are fine.
  • Full sugar varieties of hot chocolate, these are high calorie drinks 
  • Any carbonated drinks. These can cause extreme pain from the gas. It is advised to avoid them long-term.
  • Alcohol. Your tolerance of alcohol following weight loss surgery is greatly reduced and can cause dehydration, so it’s best to avoid it in this phase.
  • Milkshakes that aren’t meal replacement shakes. They tend to be very high in sugar.
  • Tablets / mineral supplements. You may find it difficult to manage your tablets. If this is the case, please seek advice from your GP or pharmacist about taking them in an alternative form, such as crushing or in liquid form. Some medications are slow-release and cannot be crushed. Also, please check with your doctor before restarting medication for diabetes, as your requirements are likely to be much less than they were prior to your surgery.
  • Medications that are irritating to the stomach, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, sulindac, celecoxib, diflunisal, and naproxen. If you are unsure, ask the Healthier Weight medical team for advice.

Phase 2: Transitioning to Soft and Puree Foods

At the start of week 3, you may feel hungrier and ready to move on to pureed foods. This is a good sign of healing, so please do not be discouraged. You should begin to transition from liquids to pureed foods at the start of week 3 and move on to very soft and sloppy foods by the start of week 4. Do not eat larger quantities than recommended, even if you feel that you could. A pureed food has the same consistency as a thick liquid: it will plop off a spoon rather than pour. It should have no lumps. A soft and sloppy food will be easily mashed with a fork and have a wet consistency. You should not need a knife to cut up soft foods.

How Much Should I Eat Each Day?

Start by eating up to 6 small pureed ‘meals’ per day and then, towards the end of this phase, try to establish a pattern of eating 3 soft meals a day. Your portion size should be about 3-6 tablespoons per meal, but you may only manage 1-2 tablespoons at first. Serve your meals on a 7-inch side plate or in a small bowl.

Will I Be Able to Eat Normally?

Just as it might have been initially after surgery, you will need to be very cautious about introducing foods. You must take your time and eat slowly. Start to follow the 20,20,20,20 technique:

  1. Take a 20-pence sized bite of food.
  2. Chew for 20 seconds. Even though there might not be much to chew in this phase, it is important to wait this length of time before moving to the next step.
  3. Once swallowed, wait at least 20 seconds before you prepare your next bite.
  4. Repeat the above steps over a period of 20 minutes. Stop before this if you feel you have had enough.

This technique means small amounts of food will be slowly sent down to your stomach and will avoid causing any pain or regurgitation. You will need to continue with this technique in your weight loss journey.

What Foods Should I Eat?

During this phase, we need to start building on the variety in your diet from each food group: protein, vegetables/salad/fruit, and carbohydrate. By the end of week 4, you should be able to have “balanced” meals. You still need to aim for 70-80g of protein per day.

Foods suitable from the protein group are:

  • Pureed chicken/quorn/tofu/minced meat/soft fish. Use gravy or a tomato-based sauce to make a smooth consistency.
  • Smooth yogurts
  • Cottage cheese
  • Low-fat soft cheese
  • Pureed or mashed beans/pulses/lentils

Foods suitable from the vegetable/salad/fruit group are:

  • Pureed or mashed overcooked vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower
  • Avocado
  • Pureed or mashed soft fruits such as banana, berries, melon

Foods suitable from the carbohydrate group are:

  • Ready Brek, porridge oats, Weetabix
  • Semolina
  • Center of a jacket potato, mashed potato (white or sweet potato)

Can I Drink with Food?

Can I Drink with Food?

It is very important to keep eating and drinking separate. Drinking with or too close after a meal can cause discomfort and flush your food through quicker. You can drink up to starting a meal if you feel this is comfortable, but most people who have had a gastric band wait 30 minutes before eating. You must then wait at least 30 minutes after eating before having a drink.

Continue to aim for 2 liters of fluid per day and focus on calorie-free fluids:

  • Water
  • Tea (including fruit and herbal)
  • Coffee
  • No added sugar squash
  • No added sugar flavored water

There are some drinks you might enjoy, but limit to 1 or 2 per day as they can be high in salt or sugar but low in protein:

  • Bovril/Marmite/Oxo
  • Light hot chocolate (e.g., Cadbury Highlights, Options)
  • Light malted drinks (e.g., Horlicks, Ovaltine)
  • 100ml fruit smoothie or fresh fruit juice (diluted 50:50 with water)

What Should I Avoid?

There are a few things you need to avoid during this phase to prevent any pain or problems:

  • Bread products, pasta, and rice. They are not to be eaten in this stage as the texture isn’t tolerated well.
  • Sugary drinks such as flavoured water, squash, and still ready-mixed fruit drinks. Sugar-free or no added sugar options are fine.
  • Full sugar varieties of hot chocolate or malted drinks.
  • Any carbonated drinks. These can cause extreme pain from the gas. It is advised to generally avoid them long-term.
  • Alcohol. Your tolerance of alcohol following weight loss surgery is greatly reduced and can cause dehydration, so it’s best to avoid it in this phase.
  • Milkshakes that aren’t a meal replacement shake. They tend to be very high in sugar.
  • Tablets. You may find it a bit difficult to manage your tablets. If this is the case, please seek advice from your GP or pharmacist about taking them in an alternative form, such as crushing or in liquid form. Some medications are slow-release and cannot be crushed. Also, please check with your doctor before restarting medication for diabetes, as your requirements are likely to be much less than they were prior to your surgery.
  • Medications that are irritating to the stomach, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, sulindac, celecoxib, diflunisal, and naproxen. If you are unsure, ask the Healthier Weight medical team for advice.

 

Phase 3: Week 5 and Onwards

This marks the beginning of learning how to work with your gastric band to develop lifelong healthy eating habits and achieve your health and fitness goals. You must leave soft, sloppy food in the past and discover regular texture foods to help you feel satisfied for longer. These are foods that often need cutting up with a knife and fork and take some chewing. They will help you feel more satisfied as they stimulate the vagus nerves more upon passing through the band and take longer to be digested by the body.

How Much Should I Eat Each Day?

You should be able to have 3 regular meals per day now, try not to leave more than 3-4 hours between meals.. Your portion size should still be about 3-6 tablespoons per meal – don’t ever have any more than this, over-extending your food intake could stretch your stomach pouch. Serve your meals on a 7-inch side plate or in a small bowl. 

Will I Be Able to Eat Normally?

You must continue to take small bites, chew well, and eat slowly. This technique is even more important when you are introducing solid foods. A reminder of the 20,20,20,20 technique is as follows:

  1. Take a 20-pence -sized bite of food.
  2. Chew for 20 seconds.
  3. Once swallowed, wait at least 20 seconds before you prepare your next bite.
  4. Repeat the above steps over a period of 20 minutes. Stop before this if you feel you have had enough.

This technique means small amounts of food will be slowly sent down to your stomach and will avoid causing any pain or regurgitation. You will need to continue with this technique in your weight loss journey.

What is the Difference Between Head Hunger and Physical Hunger?

Unfortunately, recognising the difference between head hunger and physical hunger can still be very difficult following surgery. Surgery does not alter your brain, how you think about food, or how you rely on food to satisfy certain emotions. We hope that before your surgery, you’ve had time to work on this and begin to recognise certain triggers.

  • Physical hunger is felt in your abdomen with a need for food to take away any discomfort, or you might be showing signs of low blood glucose levels and feel lightheaded if you are extremely hungry.

  • Head hunger is felt in your mouth or head. It’s not so much a physical sensation but more of a want rather than a need. You might wander around the kitchen looking for food, but nothing really satisfies it, or you might spend a long time looking at a few shelves in the supermarket before you can make up your mind on what to buy.

Some people classify themselves as emotional eaters — this might also still be present after surgery. It’s important to get the support you need so that these behaviours don’t sabotage your weight loss.

What Can I Drink with Food in Week 5?

It is very important to keep eating and drinking separately. Drinking with or too close after a meal can cause discomfort and flush your food through quicker, but it also has the potential to cause your stomach size to increase. You can drink up to a meal if you feel this is comfortable, but most people who have had a gastric band wait 30 minutes before eating. You must then wait at least 30 minutes after eating before having a drink.

Continue to aim for 2 litres of fluid per day and focus on calorie-free fluids:

  • Water
  • Tea (including fruit and herbal)
  • Coffee
  • No added sugar squash
  • No added sugar -flavoured water

There are some drinks you might enjoy, but limit to 1 or 2 per day as they can be high in salt or sugar but low in protein:

  • Bovril/Marmite/Oxo
  • Light hot chocolate (e.g., Cadbury Highlights, Options)
  • Light malt drinks (e.g., Horlicks, Ovaltine)
  • 100ml fruit smoothie or fresh fruit juice (diluted 50:50 with water)

What Foods Should I Eat In Week 5?

You can now reintroduce solid textured foods and have a balanced diet. You are still going to be aiming for 70-80g of protein per day. Typically, half of your plate will be protein, a quarter vegetables or salad, and a quarter carbohydrate. Try to focus on lean meat rather than the fattier cuts.

Ready to take the next step?

Image of consultant bariatric surgeon, Mr Rishi Singhal

All content on this page is reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team lead by Prof Rishi Singhal.

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