Bariatric surgery is the surgical option to reduce excess weight & maintain long term. Following a healthy and regulated postoperative diet is essential to promote healing & for better outcomes.
Let’s understand how to prepare for your journey after bariatric surgery:
Post surgery, the stomach or “the pouch,” is about 100-150ml in size and hence will require dietary modifications to get adequate nutrition due to reduced intake.
Post-surgery, the pouch can take about 3 months to heal completely. Hence, it is recommended to seek a well-structured diet plan that does not inhibit the recovery process.
This process will span over 4 dietary phases. After every phase, you may address substitutions/ additions in your diet on your timely follow ups with the team.
The first phase of the post-bariatric diet consists of clear liquids that will be started soon after the surgery to keep you hydrated. The diet will include water, clear soups, limewater, coconut water and green tea. That consists of 3 days post surgery.
On the 4th day the second phase starts, which is the full liquids phase. That is when you start having fuller liquids such as milk, buttermilk (chaas), puréed soups, milky tea/coffee and most importantly protein shakes.
After 2 weeks you will be advised to switch to a soft diet for a span of 2 or 4 weeks depending on the type of surgery.
In this diet, you will be asked to include high protein foods that are not hard/crusty/flakey/chewy in texture and maintain your fluid intake up to 1.5L a day along with protein shakes.
The fourth and final stage is the full diet phase and is built to last long. The protein shakes are advised to be continued until the first 6 months post surgery.
The full diet consists of having small portions of food (as you will not be able to tolerate larger portions post surgery) with a constant focus on protein rich, low-fat foods, fruits and vegetables as well as drinking low-calorie fluids between meals. Eating habits like the size of morsels and chewing slowly is equally important. You must stop eating once you feel satiated. You should not worry about the reduced food intake capacity causing mal absorption of essential nutrients, as the supplements will take care of that.
The diet focuses on eating healthy foods and proteins first, with minimal snacking between meals, leading to quicker satiation & adequate fluids in the diet plan.
Patients who undergo bariatric surgery must understand the importance of a post-operative diet in maintaining weight. A well-balanced diet will ensure early and complications free healing process, and also, help you to lead a better quality of life.