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Meal Plan Guide for After Bariatric Surgery

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What to Eat and Avoid

Posted by Victoria Brown, RD, LDN

When you choose to have bariatric surgery, you’re taking a huge first step toward better health and emotional well-being. But bariatric surgery is just one part of the equation. Along with the actual surgery, you’re also choosing to reset some of the habits that led you to gain weight in the first place. That’s a signal that you’re ready to make a change.

It’s common to have questions about a diet and meal plan post-bariatric surgery. After all, you’ll be making your grocery lists and getting rid of foods in your pantry that are not bariatric-friendly.

To help you prepare, I’ve made a list of the 7 most common meal plan questions that patients ask me, complete with details about what to expect. Jump to:


Question 1: What can I eat before bariatric surgery?

In the weeks and months prior to surgery, your relationship with food will start to change. You’ll begin to consider how you eat, when you eat, what you eat — and most importantly why you eat.

Under the guidance of a Temple dietitian and bariatric surgeon, you’ll also start to lose weight. As this transformation takes place, you may begin to notice a different way of thinking when it comes to food. This will help prepare you for the weeks and months after weight-loss surgery, when your eating schedule will change.

Pro tip: Register for a free introductory seminar with the Temple Bariatric Program team. You’ll learn about bariatric procedures such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and gastric sleeve, and talk with members of our bariatric team to learn all you can.

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Question 2: After bariatric surgery, will I be hungry on a liquid diet?

By design, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and gastric sleeve help you feel full with less food. And that’s a good thing, because right after bariatric surgery, your body needs time to rest and heal.

While you’re in the hospital, you’ll sip 1-2 ounces of clear fluid every hour. This includes broth, gelatin and sugar-free beverages. After discharge and for the first week at home, you’ll continue to build up your fluid intake — and your stamina.

Pro tip: Plan to stock your pantry with those same foods you sipped in the hospital.

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Question 3: Can I drink protein shakes after weight-loss surgery?

You’ll meet with your bariatric surgeon 1 week after your procedure. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and share how you’ve been feeling physically and emotionally.

It’s around this time that you may start to add heavier liquids into your diet. This includes:

  • Low-fat creamed soup
  • Light yogurt
  • Pudding
  • And yes – protein shakes!

Pro tip: Before your surgery, ask your Temple dietitian for tips on buying the right ingredients, brands and grab-n-go sizes to have on hand. Stock your pantry and refrigerator before the day of your procedure.

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Question 4: How long after bariatric surgery can I eat solid foods?

You can add pureed foods into your diet at 3-4 weeks after your bariatric procedure. Pureeing your foods will help you get used to textures again, and will prepare you for eating solid foods in a few weeks.

Start with protein-rich foods, such as chicken, fish, turkey, beans and eggs. Around week 5, you can add some vegetables and fruits.

Pro tip: Avoid fibrous vegetables, like broccoli. If you puree carrots or sweet potatoes, soften them first in the microwave or on the stove top in boiling water.

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Question 5: What are the best soft foods to eat after bariatric surgery?

Soft foods are another step closer to eating solid foods, and are introduced around weeks 6-8. These include cooked or canned lean meats, fish, and certain vegetables and fruit.

Pro tip: Talk to others who have had weight-loss surgery to get ideas about what soft foods they like to eat. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, consider eating beans and tofu.

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Question 6: Which foods should I avoid after bariatric surgery?

You may start to eat solid foods around week 9 after your procedure. These include the same type of foods you’ve been eating. Eat protein first, followed by vegetables and then fruit. Pay attention to how you're feeling while you’re eating — and eat slowly. When you begin to feel full, stop eating.

You’ll want to avoid starchy, high-fat and high-sugar foods. It’s also a good idea to stay away from carbonated beverages, such as soda.

Pro tip: When purchasing solid foods, shop the outer edges of the grocery store.

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Question 7: Where can I get more information about post-bariatric surgery meal plans?

After your surgery, you’ll follow strict dietary guidelines for proper nutrition and healing. Learn more about the diet phases for each bariatric procedure:

Change doesn’t happen immediately. But with determination and the right team supporting you, you can find success with your new normal.

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Helpful Resources

Other information that you might find useful when determining if bariatric surgery is right for you:

Victoria Brown, RD, LDN

Victoria Brown, RD, LDN, is a Registered Dietitian in the Department of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Temple Health. Her clinical interests include urban obesity, weight management and pre- and post-op nutrition counseling for bariatric surgical candidates.

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