Nutritional Guidlines

It is very important that you follow a strict diet after your gastric band procedure

Following surgery, you will need to follow a specific nutritional plan for the first four weeks. This is very important. By following the nutritional guidelines set out below, you will reduce the chances of any early band complications and you can expect good weight loss.

There are three phases you need to follow with your band.

  • PHASE 1 (Weeks 1 – 2) – Fluids only
  • PHASE 2 (Weeks 3 – 4) – Puréed foods
  • PHASE 3 (Weeks 5+ ) – Normal foods

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

Nutritional Advice

Phase 1: Liquid foods

You must follow a liquid diet for the first two weeks after your band operation.

  • 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
  • If a drink will go through a straw then it is the correct consistency for this stage. However, do not drink through a straw as you may take in a lot of air and this could cause discomfort
  • Sip slowly but frequently throughout the day at the start of the liquid stage, allowing a few minutes between sips. As the days go by, you can progress to cupfuls of drinks taken slowly over a 15 – 20 minute period. In the first two weeks after surgery, you can build up to taking around 200mls at any one time. 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
  • Avoid fizzy drinks in the early days after your operation as these may cause pain from trapped wind. You may be able to tolerate these later when your band is less tight. Make sure that your drinks (especially nutritional drinks) are spread out over the day. If you go for long gaps without anything to drink you may start to feel light-headed and nauseous
  • 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.

Dietary Instructions

Each day you may choose

  • 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 surgery. 

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 meal replacement soup

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

Phase 2: Puréed foods

Three weeks after your gastric band operation, tissues around the stomach are still healing. It It is still very important not to stretch the oesophagus where the band has been placed with foods that are hard or indigestible. However, you should begin to make the transition from liquids to puréed foods. Do not eat larger quantities than recommended even if you feel that you could. 

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.

  • Start by eating up to 5 small puréed ‘meals’ per day and then towards the end of this stage try to establish a 3 meal a day pattern of eating with soft foods
  • Your portion size should be about 3 – 6 tablespoons per meal. Never exceed 6 tablespoons for each meal even if you feel you could eat more. Serve your meals on a 7 inch side plate
  • Eat very slowly (take 15 – 20 minutes for each meal) to recognise the new feeling of your pouch filling up until you don’t want to eat more. Your pouch only holds about 2 tablespoons at the most, so when you have a meal that may be up to 6 tablespoons, some of the food will need time to pass through to the rest of your stomach. Your timer can help you to slow down your eating
  • Stop eating when you no longer feel hungry. If food is left on your plate, throw it away
  • Your food may contain soft lumps but not any hard lumps, skins or pips etc as they may cause discomfort, pain or get stuck
  • Remember to drink calorie-free liquids, keep alcohol to a minimum and choose low-fat, low sugar foods to purée/mash

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 surgery.

Breakfast - select one from the list below

  • 1 well crushed 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 soup
  • 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 very soft mashed potato

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

Suitable drinks are tea, coffee, low-calorie diet drinks (avoid fizzy), water and herbal teas.

Phase 3: Normal foods

This is the stage where you really start learning how to work with your gastric band, developing lifelong healthy eating habits to achieve your health and fitness goals. Now it is time to move on from the soft pureed foods of the last two weeks and re-discover solid texture foods. Solid or ‘drier’ foods require the oesophagus muscles to squeeze the foods through the band, a movement called peristalsis. These squeezes generate a feeling of not being hungry (satiety) and sends a message that passes to the brain to indicate that no more food is needed. For your band to work effectively, food needs to be of a ‘drier’ consistency and eaten and chewed slowly in small mouthfuls so that you learn to sense fullness and stop eating when you think you have had enough. With drier foods, the appropriate quantity of food should fit in the palm of your hand – e.g. half an apple – and this will keep you feeling full for longer.

There will be some foods that you will be able to tolerate less well than others and some you may not be able to tolerate at all. The important thing is to find out exactly what works for you and this will involve a bit of trial and error. If you are introducing a food for the first time, do it at home and chew it well so that you are confident you can eat it without discomfort or regurgitation. Be particularly careful with more fibrous foods such as red meat, shellfish, bread (especially if it is very fresh), fibrous fruit and vegetables including skins, dried fruit, nuts and rice. If you experience discomfort or food ‘sticking’ the first time you eat it, try again a week or two later, perhaps chewed slightly longer and eaten even more slowly so that you know how much you can manage.

It’s worth repeating that if you frequently consume soft foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar e.g. ice cream, cake, chocolate, etc OR other high calorie foods such as crisps and biscuits, your band will allow these foods through quickly, you will not feel full and you will be tempted to consume larger quantities. This will prevent further weight loss and will inevitably lead to weight gain.

Following your first adjustment, your new stomach is roughly the size of a golf ball and situated somewhere behind your breastbone. This is where your new feeling of fullness will be felt. People describe the feeling in different ways; ‘indigestion’; ‘wind’, ‘if I had another mouthful I’d burst’, ‘discomfort’; ‘I don’t want to eat more’. Others experience pain between the shoulder blades or localised in the left shoulder. If you have eaten too much you will feel pain or may even feel a choking sensation, ‘as if something is stuck’. Your new stomach is TOO full. Do not expect to feel full in the lower part of your tummy as you need to develop your eating in response to the UPPER stomach (behind your breastbone).

People often say that their band feels more restricted in the morning, while for others it may feel this way at different times of the day and on some days but not others. Your band may also feel tighter when you are under emotional stress, when you have a very cold drink or if you develop an illness such as a heavy cold.

As a result, you may cope well with a particular food on one day but not so easily on another. It is, therefore, always important to eat slowly, chew slowly and sense when to stop eating so that you feel comfortably full and not in pain or that food is stuck. There may be times, perhaps due to illness, where you need to revert to softer foods or even drinks for a few days but do not do this permanently.

Start to ‘think thin’! People who weigh less tend not to think about food too often, they eat slowly and consciously, don’t eat large portions, stop eating when they are no longer hungry and often leave food on their plate. It is useful to develop these skills for permanent weight control. Get used to looking at your new portion size, eat without any distractions e.g. away from the television and concentrate on your food. Relax when eating, eat slowly and savour the tastes in each mouthful. It is a good exercise to put down your knife and fork between mouthfuls. Try it! If you are still tending to rush your food you could even sit on your hands between mouthfuls. You will soon start to eat in a more relaxed way and recognise when to stop eating so that you are comfortably full but not in discomfort. If food is left on your plate, throw it away; don’t keep it for later or act as the rubbish bin.

The gastric band operation is designed to help you lose weight by restricting your food intake and increasing your sense of satiety (fullness) so that you can eat less and still feel satisfied. But the band needs you to support its effectiveness with diet and physical activity. It is important to remember that the band cannot deal with the emotional side of eating. Over the years you will develop your own relationship with your band. If you expect the band to do all the work, you are going to be disappointed. But, if you put in the required effort, your band will prove to be a tremendously powerful aid to weight loss.

The main food groups

Below are the main food groups you should have a balanced diet of:

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 surgery. 

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
  • 1/2 a slice of toast and a scraping of Marmite and a fresh tomato

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. You may finish a ‘soft’ meal with ½ apple or other crunchy fruit.

  • 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:


  • Chopped raw vegetables with 2 tablespoons of salsa/ hummus if neede
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds
  • Handful of mixed nuts
  • 1 small sliced apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • 2 Ryvita thins with light cream cheese and salad
  • 1 small packet of “Thai bites” or “Ryvita Minis”.
  • 15g (½ oz) unsalted nuts
  • 2 crispbreads or unflavoured rice cakes with a scraping of low fat spread/extra light cheese spread/marmite/Bovril
  • 1 small slice of granary bread or toast with a scraping of low-fat spread with marmite/Bovril
  • 1 packet of lower fat crisps/maize snacks (calories per bag should be under 100kcals)


  • 1-2 pieces of fruit (e.g. apple, banana, pear or 2 kiwis, tangerines, plums etc.)
  • 1 small handful of dried fruit and nuts
  • 1 small tin of fruit in natural juice (drain off the juice)
  • 2 large flavoured rice cake
  • Sugar-free jelly
  • Home-made sugar free/diet cola ice lollies
  • 1 x 125g diet Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cereal bar (under 100kcals)
  • 30g unsweetened breakfast cereal and skimmed milk
  • 2 Rich tea/Nice/Garibaldi/Ginger biscuits
  • 30g (1oz) Twiglets or pretzels
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