One of the most common concerns from our patients is related to the diet that they need to follow after gastric sleeve surgery. The initial doubts are various, like how much will they be able to eat, what can they eat, what they can’t eat, how much time will the post op diet take and even if they will eventually be able to eat normally.
The gastric sleeve post op diet is mandatory for two main reasons: to reduce to the maximum the chances of complications and to give entry to the new lifestyle and eating habits that the patient should embrace. This does not mean that the patient won’t be able to eat “normal” food, eventually he/she will be able to do so, but in small healthy portions.
NOTE: The purpose of this post is to give you a general perspective of what to expect in regards of the gastric sleeve post op diet, it would not be practical for you if we give here every single detail, so it is important to let you know that if you decide to have your surgery with us you will be provided with a detailed guide with examples and actual lists of food on each of the phases mentioned here.
Below, we describe the different phases of the gastric sleeve post op diet:
In this first phase, right after being discharged from the hospital, we indicate a Clear Liquid Diet, with this we refer to any liquid that is transparent and not thick in order to avoid it from accumulating and building up in your new stomach, this prevents you from discomfort because of increased pressure inside the stomach. It can be things like hydrating beverages (Gatorade®, Propel®), teas (Lipton®), flavored water (Crystal Light®) broths, juices, Jello®, ice popsicles, etc. And of course plain water. This diet begins just 24 hrs after surgery.
It is very important to emphasize that total patient compliance to the strict liquid diet is required, it is not feasible to think that compliance will be of 80%, not even 99% is acceptable. Total compliance is required because at this point any food that isn’t liquid represents an added and high risk of developing complications; since introducing a solid food in a recently operated stomach could lead to an increased pressure inside the organ and trigger a staple line disruption with a consequent leak of gastric contents.
It might seem very difficult to “stick” to this diet, but it is easier than it sounds since the patient who has been in the need of doing a pre op diet knows it is possible and right after the first 3 or 4 days things get much easier. Even if the patient has not been requested to do the preoperative gastric sleeve diet won’t have difficulties keeping up with the it since the procedure will be already “working” for him/her giving considerable restriction since the first sip of water.
During this stage and all the rest it is recommended to have at least 2 quarts of liquids per day. At the beginning, right after surgery, it will be difficult for the patient to achieve this since the stomach restriction will be increased because of the swelling. A good strategy is to do it by sipping liquids all day long, “sip and wait, sip and wait”.
From this moment, until after week 4, it is recommended to avoid any food that might make your stomach upset such as coffee, citrus, tomato sauce, beer, any carbonated beverage, etc in order to avoid or reduce as much as possible symptoms such as heartburn and reflux. It is fair to say, though, that maybe even after avoiding this kind of fluids you might still experience heartburn in some degree.
The vast majority of the bariatric groups ask the patient to focus on consuming fat free, sugar free and low carb liquids, nevertheless based on our experience we consider that this is not necessary to be followed in a strict manner during the first week since the patient will forcefully be on a low calorie diet because of the lack of options to have high calorie and nutrient intake and even more considering that during this phase the patients feel very tired because they are recovering from a major weight loss procedure.
By this time, the vast majority of the patients will be completely “adapted” and satisfied with the fact of being under a temporary liquid diet. In this phase the patient will begin a Full Liquid Diet, this includes any another thing that is liquid, with more thickness and density such as: high protein shakes and drinks, creams, soups (Campbell’s ® for example), etc. Any liquid that is not irritative, without alcohol or gas is acceptable in this phase. Again it is important to have at least 2 quarts of liquids per day to keep proper hydration.
The most important thing to remember on this phase is to have adequate amounts of proteins in liquid form. The best liquid sources of protein are the protein supplements from whey protein powder such as: Isopure®, Myoplex®, Unjury®, Optifast®, etc. besides the chicken, beef and seafood broths. The objective will be to have a protein intake between 50 and 70 grams per day from this moment on.
This is the last phase of the adapting process after surgery before trying normal or solid food, this is a diet based on pureed food, and includes any food that can be made puree or that its consistency is soft, things like: vegetables, chicken, fruits, egg, cottage cheese, etc. It is very important to start focusing on the caloric contents of the components of the puree.
In this phase the patient will have to “experiment” with the different types of food little by little to get to know his/her sleeve and introduce new kinds or groups of food once at a time to realize which ones digest properly and which ones trigger discomfort like bloating or nausea until progressing to a solid diet.
After the three adapting phases, finally the patient starts with the normal or solid diet.
From this moment on, chewing food really well will be a very important eating habit that should be adopted by every patient who wants to take the best out of his/her surgery and this is a simple, yet difficult to follow step but can make a huge difference on the long term for the weight loss results and for an uneventful recovery.
You should chew every single bite between 20 to 30 times to avoid unnecessary discomfort and symptoms and to let the brain signaling to be triggered to avoid over eating The portions will have to be the size of the patient’s palm.
If the patient feels ready he/she can start trying spicy food, tomato sauce, etc but without excess.
The patient can also consume alcohol if desired but should be done with moderation since the
liver will be busy metabolizing all the fatty tissue from your body being used to produce energy, so your tolerance to alcohol will be considerably reduced.
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By this moment, the patient should be very well “on track” to the acquisition of proper eating habits and should have left behind those bad eating habits that have led him/her to be in the need of looking for the tool that weight loss surgery represents.
We remind you that alcohol and any other non-solid food with high caloric content is NOT recommended in excess at any point after the surgery since it will affect the final results of excess lost weight.
After the first two months, the patient can eat normally any kind of food without any discomfort but following a much healthier diet and in proper moderate portions. There is really no food that is completely forbidden but should be careful on what to eat in order to reach the goal weight and goal health.
As explained in another section of our website, it is of vital importance to remember that the gastric sleeve procedure (and any another weight loss procedure) is an excellent tool that helps achieve a proper weight loss that will lead you close to an ideal body weight and will keep you away from obesity related diseases. However, it is a tool and not a “magical solution”, the patient should put his own effort since day one after surgery in order to reach the goals and obtain the best possible results out of his/her investment that will be reflected in a better and longer quality of life.
If you wish to get to know more about the follow up and care after gastric sleeve surgery, we invite you to read our article on gastric sleeve surgery recovery time.
The gastric sleeve procedure in México is totally safe, we invite you to get a free evaluation with us and share your questions about the gastric sleeve cost in México, side effects, etc.
Written by: Gabriel Rosales
Dr. Gabriel Rosales is a highly skilled, board certified surgeon in constant pursuit of learning the latest innovations in the weight loss surgery field to give his patients the best care possible.