Food Shopping After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Since bariatric patients must limit the quantities of food at each meal, eating nutritious foods throughout the day is a top priority. A balanced diet full of fresh fruits, whole grains and vegetables may be fine for the average health-conscious consumer, but those who have a smaller stomach typically cannot digest or metabolize all of these foods efficiently.   

Eating the wrong types of foods after gastric bypass surgery can lead to constipation, nausea, malabsorption and other health problems so each patient is required to follow a restricted diet plan after their procedure. Bariatric surgeons typically offer a meal plan and nutritional counseling services as part of the procedure package, and these are designed to not only keep the weight off, but also make the transition to a healthy eating plan much easier.   

According to Susan Maria Leach, the author of the book Before & After:  Living & Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery, there are several ways that a patient who has undergone gastric bypass surgery can customize their diet.   

Here are some everyday foods that can become a part of the weekly menu for gastric bypass patient:  

1. Protein shakes – shakes are readily absorbed by the body and can provide a nutritious boost as a meal replacement or snack.  Low-carb shakes also help reduce cravings and provide muscle-building protein that is essential for weight loss surgery patients

2. Protein bars – the convenient, individually wrapped bars are the ideal size for bariatric surgery patients who need a nutritious meal on the go.  However, protein bars can be hard to digest, so sipping - not guzzling - 6-8 oz. of water with the bar is recommended.

3. Sugar-free baked goods – if a sweet tooth still lives on after weight loss surgery, sugar-free versions of snacks, baked goods and other foods can play an important role in the diet.  Bariatric surgery patients do need to limit carb intake to keep the weight off for the long-term, and sugar-free baked goods can be a valuable dessert alternative.

4. Pureed foods – a pureed diet is recommended for the weeks immediately after gastric bypass surgery according to the Mayo Clinic, and this can consist of mashed vegetables, fruit smoothies or any other foods that can be turned into a paste

5. Soft carbs – eating small amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods provides steady energy, and soft foods such as brown rice, oatmeal and other cooked cereals are some of the most nutritious choices.  These can be a valuable alternative to vegetables or even bread that can be hard to digest.

6. Tofu – another valuable protein source, prepackaged tofu is soft and easy to digest.  It can also be mixed into a smoothie or added to soup for a boost of nutrition.  

Websites such as offer low-calorie, high-protein foods specifically for people who have had gastric bypass surgery or other procedures.  The website features several specialty foods for people on a restricted diet, offering hard-to-find items including sugar-free condiments, low-carb baking mixes and protein shakes to make meal replacement an easy process. Other sources of specialty foods include gourmet food stores, natural/organic supermarkets, and online gourmet food sites that specialize in diabetic-friendly and gluten-free lifestyles.  

The most important thing to remember is to eat small quantities of food throughout the day, and avoid combining large volumes of liquid and food that may distend the stomach. The stomach can be particularly sensitive immediately after surgery, and may not tolerate certain foods at all. Making sure that all food is chewed thoroughly and is not triggering an allergic reaction or stomach upset can be challenging, but will be a learning process for many.  

Learn more about bariatric surgery in our weight loss guide, or consult with a nutrition or weight loss counselor in your area to find out what types of food will suit your new lifestyle. A few simple changes can help you develop a healthy eating plan to manage your weight and acheive a state of good health with ease.