The Return to Solid Foods
Once you’ve progressed through the four stages of modified foods after bariatric surgery you will be ready to start eating solid foods again. The speed at which you reach this phase of your diet will depend largely on form of weight loss surgery you had and your body’s ability to handle solid foods.
Many patients can begin reincorporating solid foods after the fourth week of recovery, but others may take eight weeks or longer. Dr. Taylor will determine when you are ready for a full return to a healthy diet of conventional foods.
Add Solid Foods Slowly
Eating solid foods again can be a welcome return to normalcy, but it’s important not to rush. Though the pureed stage of your diet will help your body readjust to solid foods, your stomach may have trouble handling them at first. Each food will need to be introduced slowly to ensure that it will be tolerated by your body.
As you transition back to a solid food diet, you will likely still need to make soft foods a significant part of your diet. To help your body adjust to eating solid foods again, it is important to:
- Cut them into bite-sized pieces and chew thoroughly.
- Eat meals two to three hours apart so that about four to six meals are consumed each day.
- Continue drinking 40 to 64 ounces of liquid every day (the majority of which should be water).
- Drink liquids 30 minutes after eating and avoid drinking during meals.
Choosing Solid Foods
When picking solid foods, you’ll need to consider their nutritional value and how your body will tolerate them. You will need to eat proteins first to keep yourself from getting full before you’ve eaten enough. You can still enjoy a variety of foods after weight loss surgery, but in general, your diet should consist mostly of lean meats, beans, vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy products. You should minimize the complex carbohydrates and starchy foods you eat, as these higher calorie foods may slow down your weight loss considerably.
Red meats, as well as dry or overcooked meats, will need to be avoided to prevent discomfort. Your best bets are low-fiber meats like pork, chicken, turkey and seafood.
Fruits and Vegetables
These can be added as your body is able to tolerate them, but the skins of fruits may cause discomfort and will need to be eaten carefully to test your body’s reaction. High-fiber vegetables like celery and asparagus can also cause problems.
You will likely need to avoid foods like:
- Dried fruit
Any high-fiber grain will be difficult to digest and should therefore be avoided. You should also try to steer clear of carbohydrates that include refined flour and/or sugar.
Due to their relatively high caloric content, you will need to minimize the consumption foods like:
- White rice, white potatoes, corn-based foods (chips, crackers, etc.)
- White bread
Other Foods to Avoid
Your return to solid foods will help you enjoy foods you ate before surgery, but many will still be off limits.
- Sugary foods of any kind will need to be avoided, as they will add empty calories to your diet and cause dumping syndrome in gastric bypass patients.
- Fatty foods can cause discomfort and should be avoided. This includes fatty meats and foods that are battered or fried.
- Spicy and acidic foods can cause upset stomach and heartburn. This includes tomato-based products.
- Trigger foods may have contributed to stress eating or emotional eating before weight loss surgery and should be avoided to prevent overindulgence. Trigger foods will be specific to you and it is important to try to determine what specific foods may lead you to overeat.
The return to solid foods can be a welcome change, but it’s important to manage the transition carefully. If you have any questions about adjusting to the phases of your diet after weight loss surgery, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Taylor for guidance.