Nutritional Guidelines

It is very important that you follow a strict diet after your gastric balloon procedure. By following this diet you reduce the chance of experiencing a complication.

Following the balloon procedure, you will need to follow a specific nutritional plan for the first five weeks. By following the nutritional guidelines set out below, you will give yourself a strong start in weight loss.

There are three phases you need to follow with your balloon 

These three phases are set out in more detail below for you.

Nutritional advice

Phase 1: Liquid foods

You should begin this stage as soon as the symptoms following the procedure have settled. The aim in weeks 1 and 2 is to stay hydrated and establish liquid food intake. If you are experiencing severe nausea, vomiting or retching, please stay on sips of clear liquids or try sucking some ice cubes for 48 hours.  By day 4, most people are feeling noticeably better and by day 7, you should be feeling back to normal. 

  • For the first 2 weeks, drink only liquids to allow your stomach to settle after your procedure
  • Liquids should be smooth and not contain any ‘bits’ as they may cause discomfort or pain or get stuck. Use a sieve if you are unsure
  • Drinks should be thin enough to go through a straw but don’t use a straw as this will increase air consumption, causing discomfort. Drinks can include water, tea or coffee (preferably unsweetened and with little / no milk), zero calorie squash etc.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks in the early days after your operation as these may cause pain from trapped wind. 
  • Limit fruit juices and alcohol due to the high calorie content
  • Limit caffeinated drinks as caffeine can cause dehydration and can stimulate the bowel causing cramps or diarrhoea
  • Concentrate on high protein liquids such as protein shakes as these will make you feel more satisfied. Meal replacement shakes and porridge are suitable at this stage but porridge must be prepared as a drink and thoroughly blended
  • Sip slowly but frequently throughout the day, allowing a few minutes between sips. Progress to cupfuls of drinks taken slowly over a 15-20 minute period, building up to taking around 200mls at any one time by the end of the first week. If you experience pain, discomfort or regurgitate your drinks, take smaller sips and allow more time between sips. Some people find warm drinks go down more easily to start with; others find that sucking ice cubes can help if you are struggling to get fluids down
  • Remain upright for 3-4 hours after drinking
  • Rest, but get up and walk frequently. This will help to move the liquids in your stomach around the balloon
  • Aim to take about 1.5 litres each day, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle with you to sip frequently throughout the day. During the first few days, you may not be able to manage 1.5 litres of fluid in one day; do not worry but ensure that you progress towards this amount as the first week goes by or you may become dehydrated and suffer with headaches, urine infection or constipation
  • Some people get a ‘furry mouth’ in the first month as when you have nothing to chew on, your mouth produces less saliva to protect your teeth. Using a mouthwash and brushing your teeth well will help. You could also try sugar free chewing gum, ice cubes and home made no added sugar squash ice lollies.
  • IT IS ESSENTIAL to keep a daily food and activity diary

Dietary Instructions

  • Meal replacement shake (hot or cold)*
  • Bowl of soup
  • 400ml (2/3pt) semi-skimmed or skimmed milk
  • 400ml (2/3pt) soya milk with added calcium
  • 2 smooth diet yoghurts (125g each) to blend with milk or water to a ‘drinkable’ consistency
  • 3 heaped tablespoons skimmed milk powder
  • 15g protein powder e.g. soya or egg (obtainable from health food shops or a pharmacy); you may need to use these to obtain your protein if you do not like dairy products. They can be mixed into soups or fruit or vegetable juices

*Please note that when made strictly according to the box instructions, meal replacement shakes may be a little too thick at this stage. A thinner consistency can be achieved simply by adding more water and less (or no) ice. The resulting consistency should be similar to milk.

  • Oxo, Bovril, Marmite or stock cubes dissolved in hot water
  • Soups – tinned, dried, cuppa, homemade. You may need to dilute them with extra water or add an Oxo cube, Bovril or Marmite and sieve to remove all bits and lumps
  • 1 small glass (150ml) unsweetened fruit juice. If you have a juicing machine you can make your own tasty combinations e.g. beetroot and orange, carrot, celery and apple. Dilute with approximately 150ml water and sieve to remove all bits and lumps
  • 1 glass (200ml) vegetable juice e.g. carrot, tomato, mixed vegetable, V8
  • 1 x 100ml low-fat, low sugar Actimel or similar
  • 1 x 100 – 150ml Vie or other smoothie drinks
  • Low-calorie hot chocolate, Ovaltine or Horlicks
  • ½ banana or small portion of soft fruit to make into a ‘smoothie’ with milk; make sure this is a thin consistency and sieve to remove all bits and lumps
  • Water; plain or flavoured low-calorie variety (not carbonated)
  • Low-calorie, no added sugar or sugar-free squash
  • Tea, including herbal teas
  • Coffee, preferably decaffeinated

Sample Menu: Phase One

Below is an example of what you could be enjoying while during phase one post procedure. We also offer the meal replacement box to help our patients manage their diet.

8.00am – 150 – 200ml tea or coffee or water or unsweetened juice 

9.30am – half a meal replacement shake

11.00am – 200ml tea or coffee, squash, water

1.30pm – 150 – 200ml tea or coffee or water or unsweetened juice 

3.00pm – 200ml coffee

4.30pm – half a meal replacement shake

6.00pm – 150ml unsweetened orange juice 

7.30pm – half a bowl of soup

10.00pm – 200ml milk or yoghurt blended with milk/water

Phase 2: Puréed foods

You should not begin this stage until you have completed 14 days of liquids only.

In week 3 you can introduce soft / puréed foods. Using these products is an ideal way to achieve the correct consistency, portion size and nutritional intake at this stage (although some varieties may need to be blended). You are now beginning to set in place habits and behaviours that will give you the best long term results. 

An example of the kind of progression in textures that you should aim for is to start with one Weetabix with plenty of low-fat milk but towards the end of this stage prepare the Weetabix so that it is more solid and made with much less milk. You can begin to add fruit to the meal replacement shakes and use less water and more ice (as instructed on the box) to achieve a thicker consistency. You should avoid bread and fibrous vegetables (including skins), dried fruit, nuts and rice at this stage. Vegetables – including potatoes – should be over-cooked and either mashed or blended into a fine texture. If you have red meat or chicken, make sure it is minced into a fine texture. Fish can usually be flaked or mashed without any difficulty.

  • NO SOLID/HARD FOODS – meat, bread, solid fruit & vegetables, rice, nuts etc. must wait
  • Food should be “spoonable” and of a smooth consistency
  • Use a teaspoon and a small knife and fork to keep mouthful sizes small
  • Use a side plate (7 inches) to keep portion size correct
  • Chew thoroughly and use your timer!
  • Drink enough fluids throughout the day to remain hydrated. During your meals you can slowly sip small amounts of fluid if desired
  • Avoid concentrated sugars and fats as they lead to slower weight loss. Avoid high calorie liquids, such as alcohol
  • Continue to take one Multi vitamin and two calcium capsules, on alternate days
  • If you feel hungry, you can try the following:
    • Vary the quantities at different mealtimes, for example if you feel hungry mid-morning but not in the evening, have a larger breakfast and smaller evening meal 
    • Eat 4 or 5 smaller meals more often
    • Add protein by increasing the amount of low-fat dairy or beans/pulses in your daily diet. Alternatively you can use a protein supplement powder which can be obtained from health food shops 

Dietary Instructions

Every day ensure that you choose foods from each of the following food groups:

  • Meal replacement shake (with or without fruit)
  • 1 soft/runny scrambled egg
  • 1 – 2 tbsp puréed chicken, Quorn, tofu, minced lamb or beef. Use sauce / gravy for smooth consistency
  • 1 – 2 tbsp of soft fish mashed into fine flakes
  • 1 small plain yoghurt (blended with fruit if desired)
  • ½ – 1 Weetabix with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 – 3 tbsp Ready Brek or porridge
  • 1 – 2 tbsp mashed potato
  • 1 – 2 tbsp soft mashed pasta
  • 200 – 300ml thick vegetable soup.
  • 1 – 2 tbsp puréed/ mashed veg (fresh, frozen, tinned)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp stewed/mashed fruit
  • Smoothie of 2 fruit portions with 150ml juice/milk
  • 1 inch slice of ripe melon
  • 1 x 250ml glass of fruit juice

Sample Menu: Phase Two

Below is an example of what you could be enjoying while during phase two post procedure. We also offer the meal replacement box to help our patients manage their diet.

Breakfast – select one from the list below
  • 1 Shredded Wheat with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk

  • 1 small portion of soft scrambled egg 

Mid-morning snack – select one from the list below
  • 2 tbsp puréed fruit

  • 1 small smooth/plain low-fat yogurt

Lunch – select one from the list below
  • 1 bowl of soup served with a side salad

  • 1 smooth low calorie soup

Mid-afternoon snack – select one from the list below
  • 1 meal replacement shake

  • 1 small smooth plain yogurt

  • 2 tbsp puréed fruit

  • 1-2 tbsp puréed chicken or fish in sauce and 1-2 tbsp puréed vegetables and 1-2 tbsp mashed potato

IMPORTANT: Ensure you drink at least 2 litres of fluid per day 

Suitable drinks are tea, coffee, low-calorie diet drinks, water and herbal teas.

Phase 3: Normal foods

Do not start this stage until you have completed 14 days of fluids and a further 14 days of puréed foods. 

This is a very important stage as in week 5 you start solid foods. Introducing regular foods can put you at risk of falling back into those old eating habits that we are trying to change. To get full value from your balloon, we recommend using these products. They are a great way to manage your transition to solid foods, and to establish a routine that you need for the remainder of the implantation period. 

It is now really important that you continue to stick to the core habits begun in week 2! 

  • BE VIGILANT – calories can creep in and sabotage your weight loss
  • Focus on whole grains, lean meats, fish, fresh fruit & vegetables
  • Avoid concentrated sugars and fats as they lead to slower weight loss
  • Avoid bulky, starchy foods (e.g. bread) and tough fibrous foods, (some meats, pineapple, asparagus)
  • Avoid high calorie liquids
  • Avoid snacking on energy dense foods
  • Use a 7 inch side plate to keep portion size correct and use a teaspoon and small knife and fork to keep mouthful size small
  • Chew thoroughly – use your timer, do not eat for any longer than 20-30 minutes.
  • Drink enough fluids throughout the day to remain hydrated. During your meals you can slowly sip small amounts of fluid if desired.
  • STOP eating when you are no longer hungry. You do not need to feel full. If you continue to eat  heartburn, vomiting or pain may occur
  • Introduce new foods one at a time in order to rule out intolerance. If this occurs return to liquids or purées for a couple of days until your stomach feels calm again
  • You should aim to consume 850-1200 calories per day (see sample menu below)
  • ALWAYS complete a daily food and activity diary
  • Continue to take one Multi vitamin and two calcium capsules, on alternate days 
  • If you’re hungry, make sure the food you’re eating is solid enough. Avoid soft / liquid foods (e.g. chocolate, cheese, ice-cream) as they’re often high in calories. They also pass around the balloon easily so don’t make you feel full, often meaning you eat more. Or you could try adding protein by increasing the amount of low-fat dairy in your daily diet or by adding a protein supplement powder, found in health food shops

The main food groups

Also includes rice, noodles, oats, breakfast cereals, pasta, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils and dishes made from maize, millet and cornmeal. These foods should make up about one third of your diet. Have one or two portions at each meal time (3 – 4 portions/day). Choose wholegrain, wholemeal or high fibre varieties to help your digestive system. Some people find that bread and white rice seem to ‘stick’ in the gullet after having a gastric band, so they tend to avoid them. Others find they can manage perfectly well if they chew slowly. Most people manage very well with other foods in this group, including potatoes, noodles, lentils etc.

People often think that starchy foods are particularly fattening. This isn’t true, but starchy foods become fattening if they’re served or cooked with fat. For example, it is the butter we spread on bread, the cream or cheese sauce we add to pasta or the oil we use for frying that makes them fattening. So cut down on these added fats rather than the starchy foods themselves.

Portion sizes (2 – 3 servings daily)
  • 1 slice bread or toast

  • 1 crumpet

  • 2 crisp breads / 3 small crackers

  • 2 small oat cakes

  • ½ pitta or 1 small pitta

  • 1 small chapatti

  • 3 tablespoons dry porridge oats

Try to include at least 3 vegetable/salad portions daily. Make sure that for your main meals at least half of your plate (side plate size) is full of a variety of vegetables/salad. You can use tinned, frozen or fresh vegetables. Most gastric band patients tolerate these foods well.

Portion sizes (3 – 5 servings daily) 

  • 3 heaped tbsp cooked vegetables

  • 1 side salad (half a side plate size)

  • 1 medium/ 7 cherry tomatoes, glass vegetable juice

  • Use a wide selection of raw, cooked and salad vegetables e.g. aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, celery, courgette, cucumber, gherkins, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, peppers, radish, spring onions, swede, tomatoes, turnip, watercress

Aim for 2 – 3 portions per day. It is vital to include at least two portions daily from this group, because on your new eating plan it may be difficult to obtain enough protein in the small portions that you will be eating. Trim visible fat from meat, choose lean cuts wherever possible and remove skin from chicken before cooking. Meat such as bacon and salami and products such as sausages, beefburgers and pâté are all relatively high fat choices, so try to keep these to a minimum. Beans, such as canned baked beans and pulses, are a good low-fat source of protein. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week. These can be fresh, frozen or tinned.

Portion sizes (2 – 3 servings daily)  

  • 100g (3½oz) very lean cooked beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, liver, kidney, pilchards, salmon

  • 150g (5oz) cooked white fish or tinned tuna (in brine or spring water), tofu or Quorn

  • 2 eggs (limit to 6 per week)

  • 4 tbsp cooked peas, lentils, beans (including baked beans), kidney beans etc

This group is important for calcium to keep your bones and teeth strong and includes milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais. For a healthy diet eat moderate amounts of these foods (2 – 3 portions per day). Choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt (0.1% fat or less), virtually fat free fromage frais and reduced fat cheeses. (Note: when buying yoghurt or fromage frais, make sure that they are low in fat AND low in sugar).

Portion sizes (2 – 3 servings daily)   

  • 200ml semi-skimmed milk

  • 1 small pot of diet yoghurt or fromage frais

  • 100g (4oz) cottage cheese

  • 60g (2oz) low-fat soft cheese

  • 25g (1oz) hard cheese e.g. cheddar, stilton

Fruit can be used as a snack if necessary, chopped on cereal or as a dessert after a meal. Fruit should only be consumed if you are truly physically hungry.

Portion sizes (2 servings maximum daily)   

  • 1 medium piece fresh fruit – apple, orange, ½ banana

  • 2 – 3 small fruits e.g. plums, apricots

  • 150g (5oz) strawberries, raspberries, blackberries

  • 3 tbsp stewed or tinned fruit (no added sugar)

  • 1x100ml glass fruit juice (one per day)

  • 1 heaped tablespoon dried fruit

  • 1 handful of grapes

Sample Menu: Phase Three

Below is an example of what you could be enjoying during phase three post procedure. 

Breakfast – select one from the list below
  • 1 Shredded Wheat with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk

  • ½ slice toast with scraping of low-fat margarine

  • Marmite and a fresh tomato and 1 satsuma or pear

Lunch – select one from the list below
  • ½ tin tuna in brine or spring water and 1 – 2 crisp breads or crackers

  • ½ slice toast and mixed salad with lemon and herbs and ½ apple or 1 satsuma

Evening Meal
  • 2 fish fingers and 2 small new potatoes in skins and crisply cooked vegetables or a mixed salad and 1 diet yoghurt or diet fromage frais and ½ banana or handful of strawberries, raspberries etc.

IMPORTANT: Ensure you drink at least 2 litres of fluid per day 

Suitable drinks are tea, coffee, low-calorie diet drinks, water and herbal teas.

Additional suggestions

  • 3 tbsp Fruit and Fibre, Special K, no added sugar muesli with a little skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and no added sugar

  • 3 tbsp All Bran with a little skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, no added sugar AND 1 tbsp raisins OR ½ banana OR 8 – 10 nuts e.g. hazelnuts, brazil nuts or almonds OR 1 flat tbsp seeds e.g. pumpkin

  • ½ slice toast AND 1 boiled egg AND 2 tbsp boiled mushrooms OR 1 piece of very lean bacon grilled with 1 fresh tomato


The portion sizes are approximate and may be too much. You will need to use your new eating skills to determine when you are full, i.e. eating slowly, small mouthfuls, concentrating on your food, enjoying each mouthful, putting your knife and fork down between mouthfuls. Stop eating when you sense that you do not want to eat any more.

Remember: if you choose to eat ‘soft’ foods, you MUST restrict your portion size to 1 – 2 tablespoons then fill the rest of your side plate with vegetables or salad. 

  • ½ tin tuna in brine or spring water and 1 – 2 crisp breads or crackers

  • ½ slice toast and mixed salad with lemon and herbs and ½ apple or 1 satsuma

Some suggested meals:

  • ½ piece baked fish in breadcrumbs with 2 small new potatoes and 2 portions of lightly cooked vegetables

  • ½ tandoori chicken breast with 1 tbsp basmati rice and mixed salad

  • Small piece fresh tuna, baked or grilled (about ‘pack of cards size’) with 1 tbsp pasta + 1 tsp pesto to flavour and salad

  • 2 slices roast meat with 2 small ‘dry roast’ potatoes and 2 portions of lightly cooked vegetables and 1 tsp sauce or gravy

  • ¼ large pizza with mixed salad

  • Stir fry with chicken, beef, tofu or pork pieces, sugar snap peas, mini sweetcorn, carrot, onion etc, and a little soy sauce. Serve around 3 tbsp

  • 1 tbsp pasta, cooked ‘al dente’ mixed with 1 tsp pesto, 1 fresh chopped tomato and ½ boiled chicken breast. Serve with salad

  • 1 small baked potato with tuna in brine or spring water mixed with 2 tsp low-fat mayonnaise and lemon juice or vinegar and mixed salad

  • 2 pieces of liver*, lightly brushed with oil, baked or grilled with 2 small new potatoes and 2 portions of lightly cooked vegetables

  • 2 small slices of bread (wholegrain or granary) with 2 slices of lean meat or chicken and salad

NB. * Do not eat liver if you are pregnant

Snacks (if required)

If you have eaten your 3 small, solid/dry textures meals and are still physically hungry, occasionally as a snack you could have:

  • Small handful of nuts / 1 small piece of fruit / 1-2 cream crackers with light spread / handful of popcorn

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Vitamins and minerals are vital for appetite regulation, fat storage and metabolic rate and so are important for good health, weight loss and long term weight maintenance. After a gastric balloon procedure, your portion sizes will be smaller so it is recommended that all gastric balloon patients take a multi-vitamin supplement for at least the full time that the balloon is in place. 

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