Studies have found that there are numerous health benefits associated with gastric bypass surgery. Most patients report considerable weight loss, which helps patients to have an improved quality of life and control or resolution of various obesity-associated problems like diabetes, blood pressure, and sleeps apnea. However, it is very important for the patient to follow the dietary guidelines for optimal results and prevent regaining the lost weight.
As the surgery involves creating a bypass in the digestive system, it changes the way the body handles consumed food. A gastric bypass diet has a staged approach to help the person to slowly start consuming solid foods. Generally, an individual takes about 3 months to start eating regular food.
Week 1 and 2 – Liquids:
In the first 2 weeks post surgery, you will be allowed only to have clear liquids. It is advised to take small sips slowly at a time (maximum 2 to 3 ounce). Once the body starts tolerating clear liquids, you will be asked to move on to other liquids. This is because the body needs to get accustomed to the shortened digestive tract. Fluids preferred during this initial stage are as follows:
- Unsweetened juice
- Rice water
- Low-fat milk
- Strained cream soup
- Decaffeinated tea or coffee
Week 3 and 4 – Pureed food:
Once the body starts tolerating liquids well, you can switch to slightly denser foods like pureed or mashed foods. The food should be completely mashed and preferably strained to avoid any solid pieces from entering the stomach, as this can lead to discomfort and indigestion. It is recommended to select soft foods, which are easy to mash and also easily digestible.
- Boiled and mashed beans
- Cooked vegetables or soft fruits
- Lean ground meat
- Eggs (Only egg white preferably)
You must remember that post surgery the digestive system is very delicate to spices and dairy products such as cottage cheese, yoghurt, or eggs. Hence, you should add them slowly to the diet when the body starts tolerating vegetables and fruits well. One can even add water or broth or any of the above-mentioned liquids to make it like a puree to make more edible. One must not eat and drink together; wait about 30 minutes after eating food to consume water. As discussed before, eat slowly and take small sips.
Week 5 and 6 – Soft foods:
Once your body starts tolerating purified food entirely, the doctor will guide you on how you can start eating soft chewable food substances. This stage usually takes about a few weeks, and doctor’s advice should be sought before taking any new food substances during the initial phase. Typically it is recommended to have the following foods-
- Cooked vegetables (soft vegetables without skin)
- Grounded or finely dices lean meat or fish
- Soft fruits without skin
- Cottage cheese
You can consume these foods, without making them into a puree, preferably chopping them into tiny pieces so that they are easily digestible.
Week 7 and 8; Solid foods:
After about 8 weeks on the gastric bypass diet, you can slowly start consuming solid food substances directly. However, they should be diced into smaller pieces and consumed slowly. Later, under the guidance of the treating doctor, you can start consuming a regular diet. One must continually keep a check on the food consumed; they must be low on fat. You may find it difficult to take in spicy or crunchy food, so it must be avoided until the digestive system is ready to tolerate it.
Foods to avoid:
Even when you start consuming solid foods, you must avoid certain food that can cause indigestion, nausea, pain, or vomiting.
- Carbonated beverages and caffeine drinks
- Highly fibrous vegetables like cabbage, celery, broccoli, corn
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruits
- Fried foods or Sweets
- Fatty Meats
In general, it is better to avoid high-calorie foods; foods high in sugar and fats. Start taking these foods slowly in very less quantity and under the guidance of a doctor. Consume a good amount of water to avoid dehydration (as advised by the physician, may vary for patients with renal problems). It is recommended to follow cooking methods like boiling, baking, or grilling to avoid the over usage of oil or ghee. Start having brown rice or whole wheat chapatti after consulting the doctor.
Important points to remember:
- Always eat and drink slowly
- Have plenty of liquids between meals
- Have small meals
- Chew food thoroughly
- Try new food one at a time
- Consume high protein food
- Take prescribed multimineral or vitamins