Your Guide to the Bariatric Diet

Obesity is a disease that is found all around the world. In fact, in 2020, more than 2 billion adults were overweight and 600 million were obese. In the US, 41.9% of people were obese from 2017 to 2019. But the good thing is that it is curable. A bariatrician can treat obesity with diet control, exercise, and by performing surgery (surgery is usually the last resort to fix obesity).  

Are you planning to have bariatric surgery, but worried about what to eat or what to avoid? A bariatric diet plan helps list out the diet that you need to follow before and after your surgery. It is really important to make your weight loss journey successful. It usually has two parts: 

  1. Pre-surgery diet 
  2. Post-surgery diet 

Pre-surgery diet 

This diet plan is focused on reducing your weight before surgery. It helps to remove the body fat around your organs (liver) and abdomen so that you can get laparoscopy surgery; which is less painful, has a fast recovery time, and is easy on the body. Pre-surgery diets can vary from person to person, but here are a few broad guidelines you need to follow: 

  • Stop or reduce your intake of saturated fats, milk products, meat, and fried foods. 
  • Reduce your intake of high-carb foods (like sugary desserts, pasta, potatoes, bread, or bread products). 
  • Remove high-sugar beverages (like juice, cold drinks, or sodas).  
  • Exercise portion control while eating. 
  •  Avoid binge eating.  
  •  Stop smoking.  
  • Avoid alcohol. 
  • Don’t drink anything with your meals.  

The pre-surgery diet mostly focuses on protein shakes or other high protein, low-calorie foods that are easy to digest. As the date of surgery comes nearer, your diet might be changed from solid foods to liquids only. But this also depends on your weight and overall health (you might be allowed to eat some solids like fish, cereal with hot water, or boiled eggs).  

Post-surgery diet 

Your dietitian or health care provider gives you a specially designed step-by-step diet plan suited for your body (to help your gut recover) that tells you everything-the kinds of foods you are allowed to have, how much and for how long.  

Stage 1: Liquid diet 

For the first few days (usually the first week), you are on a liquid diet to avoid any postoperative complications. The liquids you can consume are: 

  • decaffeinated coffee and tea 
  • skimmed milk or soy/almond milk 
  • thin soups and broths 
  • unsweetened juices 
  • sugar-free ice pops 
  • Unsweetened yogurt 

Stage 2: Pureed / soft diet 

This stage comes after the first few days of your surgery and is designed to slowly make you accustomed to solid foods. In this stage, your doctor will ask you to consume mashed and pureed foods. You can puree foods in your food processor, or blender, or just boil and mash them with a spoon to get a thick, creamy baby food-like texture. Avoid foods that are spicy, have seeds, or have lots of fiber. You cannot consume liquids with any of your meals. The foods you can eat are:  

  • Mashed fruits (like apples, bananas, canned fruits, peaches, and pears),  
  • Boiled and mashed vegetables (spinach, carrot, green beans, sweet potato),  
  • Skimmed unsweetened yogurt, 
  • Cooked and mashed lean proteins like chicken, turkey, ricotta cheese, white fish, scrambled eggs, etc.  
  • Soups and protein shakes 
  • Cooked cereals (like oats) 

Stage 3: Soft food diet 

In this stage, you’re allowed to eat soft foods, which are easy to chew and digest. This includes: 

  • Boiled eggs 
  • Cooked ground lean meats- chicken, turkey 
  • Baked or steamed fish 
  • Canned fruits 
  • Low-fat mayo 
  • Hummus 
  • Cottage cheese 
  • Rice 
  • Cooked/steamed vegetables 
  • Bread 

It is important to eat small bites, chew your food and follow the portion control rule. 

Stage 4: Stabilization diet 

This is the phase that re-introduces you to solid foods. It usually begins after 8 weeks of surgery. Though you are allowed to eat solid food, you need to take it slow. Eat small bites and only eat foods that you can easily digest. Make sure to avoid these foods at the beginning of stage 4: 

  • fibrous vegetables (like celery, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc.)  
  • popcorn 
  • corn on the cob 
  • carbonated beverages (such as sodas, soft drinks, seltzer, or bubblies) 
  • tough meat 
  • fried foods 
  • crunchy foods (like granola, seeds, and nuts) 
  • dried fruit 
  • bread and bread products. 

Foods that you need to eat for a healthy balanced diet would include: 

  • High protein foods 
  • Soy products 
  • Eggs 
  • Lean meat 
  • Lentils 
  • Hard cheeses 
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

After 4 to 5 months, depending on your recovery, you can return to eating normally. But you need to follow these guidelines: 

  • Have four to six smaller meals per day rather than three large ones. 
  • Eat and drink slowly, do not gulp down massive quantities of food and drinks. 
  • Chew your food thoroughly and stop when full. 
  • Practice portion control. 
  • Avoid high-carb and fried foods. 
  • Select protein-rich, well-balanced meals. 
  • Avoid eating due to stress or boredom (as this may lead to weight gain). 
  • Take dietary supplements, as per your doctor’s instructions. 
  • Daily fluid consumption of at least 1.5 liters. 
  • Avoid fluids with your meals. 

After the surgery, it takes a year or two to recover. During that time, you must follow a strict diet and exercise well to avoid complications and weight gain.  

Want to know more about bariatric treatments, exercises, or diet control plans? Talk to our bariatrics experts. Call 347-868-1060 or contact us at  

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