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Bariatric Program

Bariatric Surgery Nutrition Guidelines

As part of your initial bariatric surgery consultation, you’ll meet with a Temple dietitian for a nutritional assessment and customized diet plan. You’ll learn how to eat and what to avoid before and after surgery, and receive guidance on how to maintain long-term weight loss.

Nutrition After Weight-Loss Surgery

Your dietitian will advise you to start losing weight, even before your surgery.

At Temple, you have an entire team working to guide and support you through your weight-loss journey. And at the center of that team is the most important member of your team – you.

In the 1-3 months prior to your bariatric surgery, you’ll start working with your healthcare team members to get prepared for what’s ahead. That includes consultation with a Temple dietitian, who will work with you on a diet and nutrition plan that you’ll begin right away.

By the time you have your surgery, you should already have adopted this new way of healthy eating – and you will have already started losing weight. Your goal is to get your body and mind prepared for optimal healing with a well-balanced, high-protein diet.

Nutritional Guidelines

The diet and nutrition plan you develop with your dietitian sets you up for success – both before and after your bariatric procedure. The following are some tried and true nutritional guidelines to help you stay focused before surgery. Keep these same guidelines in mind for after surgery to help you stay focused:

  • Eat at least 3 meals per day
  • Drink more water, but do not drink water during meals
  • Include healthy snacks (high protein) between your meals if feeling hungry
  • Drink only calorie-free beverages
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, including regular and diet soda
  • Consume 3 servings of non-fat or low-fat milk and dairy products a day
  • Limit fat and sugar intake
  • Add more protein to your diet
  • Skip fried foods and added fats, such as butter
  • Make healthier choices when eating out
  • Eat meals slowly, making sure to chew food well
  • Replace boredom and stress-eating with other activities, such as walking
  • Include vegetables every day for lunch and dinner
  • Track your caloric intake, so that you do not exceed 1,000 calories in a day

The main goal after surgery is to allow the stomach to heal while providing your body with proper nutrition. For the 9 weeks following surgery, you will slowly progress your diet from clear liquids to a regular, healthy diet under the supervision of your surgeon and registered dietitian.

Learn more about diet progression following bariatric and metabolic surgery >

Foods to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery

Certain foods may make you sick and eventually make you gain weight after surgery, including:

  • Foods with high amounts of sugar, such as candy, ice cream, syrup, cookies and cakes
  • High-fat foods, such as chips, fried foods, sausages, cream soups and cream sauces
  • Starchy foods, such as pasta, doughy breads and rice
  • Fibrous foods, such as nuts, popcorn and corn
  • Avoid acidic foods the first 3 months after the surgery

In addition, do not use tobacco and nicotine, as it interferes with healing and can lead to complications.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Vitamin needs after bariatric surgery are very specific. You will need to take supplements for the rest of your life to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Your dietitian will recommend vitamin and mineral supplements that are right for you.

To ensure you're getting everything you need, you will need to complete blood work a few times during the first year, and then once a year after that.

Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome is when food passes quickly into the small intestine. It’s sometimes caused by eating sweets or fried, fatty or greasy foods. It can also happen if you eat too much at one meal, or if you drink fluids with your meals.

Symptoms include cramping, sweating, flushed appearance, dizziness, weakness, headache and eventually diarrhea. The best way to avoid dumping syndrome is to follow our dietary guidelines.

Bariatric surgery requires a lifelong commitment of following dietary guidelines, vitamin and mineral supplement regimes and lifestyle changes to maintain your weight loss. Our weight-loss team works with you every step of the way.


Page medically reviewed by:
Eric J. Velazquez, MD, FACS, FASMBS
November 25, 2019