Gastric bypass surgery not only changes the size and shape of the stomach, but also reduces the amount of calories – and nutrients – the patient can absorb over the course of the day. For the first three weeks after gastric bypass surgery, the patient is required to consume only a high-protein liquid diet, and they must limit the volume of liquids they consume because the newly formed stomach pouch simply cannot hold a large amount of food or liquid. After the three-week liquid diet, the patient must start introducing solid food back into the daily menu.
If you are undergoing gastric bypass surgery, here are some tips for transitioning to solid food after your procedure:
1. Avoid drinking fluids before and with meals. The small pouch created with gastric bypass surgery does not leave very much room for food and liquids, so you will need to eat only small amounts of highly-nutritious foodstuffs at any given time. Drinking fluid before and with meals can cause pain and even make it difficult for your body to digest a few bites. Steer clear of liquids for better nutrient absorption.
2. Eliminate tough meats from the diet. Pork chops, ham, steak and other tough meats are very difficult to digest, so it may be necessary to leave them out of the weekly menu until you are completely healed. If you do want to eat meat, make sure it is very tender and even overcooked so that your body can break it down easily.
3. Space meals out over the course of the day. Eating too much at one time can tax your digestive system and even trigger vomiting. In many cases, you will only be able to eat about two to three bites of food at a time, and must wait a few minutes to digest it. This process can take time to adapt to, and you might need to space out your meals into five or six sessions over the course of the day to meet your daily nutritional requirements.
4. Reduce the amount of fatty foods in the diet. High-fat foods are difficult to digest and can also slow down your weight loss. Consider switching to a low-fat version of your favorite foods whenever possible.
5. Chew food thoroughly. It’s very important to break down as much of your food as possible before swallowing so that your stomach doesn’t have to do all of the work. Get into the habit of chewing your food several dozen times before swallowing so that all the nutrients can be readily absorbed in your small intestine.
6. Avoid or limit sticky foods. Flour-based foods such as breads, pasta and baked goods can form clumps in your stomach and may even get stuck in the gastric pouch. This can make you feel sick and you may not be able to digest other foods in the meal properly. Limit the consumption of rice, pastas and cheese so that you can make room for more nutritious foods in the diet.
Learn more about gastric bypass surgery in our information guide, or consult with a bariatric surgeon in your area to discuss meal planning options and learn more about diet modification strategies that will help you stay healthy.