Post Surgery Ongoing Diet

Contributed by Dato' Dr Tikfu Gee

Now that you’ve made it through bariatric surgery, you’ll want to make sure you take extra good care of yourself to make it all worthwhile.  This is an exciting phase of your life, during which you’ll see not only dramatic physical changes, but also psychological and social improvements as well, basically it’s an improvement on you quality of life.  


A New Diet for a New You

As your body becomes accustomed to its new size and as you become accustomed to your new diet and new lifestyle, you’ll start to look better, feel better, and enjoy a healthier new you. What’s the most important thing for you right now?  That’s an easy one: your post surgery ongoing diet!  For so many reasons, your most important job after bariatric surgery is to get used to a whole new way of eating…and stick to it. What does this mean for you?  We’ll spell it all out right here, from your initial diet of pureed food, to how to eat properly once you’ve progressed onto your regular, permanent diet.


How Important is This?

  The one thing we can’t stress enough here, is the importance of your post surgery diet.  This means not only immediately after surgery, not even just the few weeks or months after surgery, but for the rest of your life.  The consequences of falling off the healthy way of eating you’ll see described below are severe, dangerous, and downright depressing (in a clinical way, actually). So please read carefully, and stick to your guns on this.


Ways to Ensure Success

  One of the best ways of sticking to your guns is to join a support group just for bariatric patients like you.  Your doctor can give you a list of groups in your area, and will probably even recommend that you join one of them immediately, if you haven’t already.  (We already have existing support groups for our own patients). Support groups might meet once a week or once a month, or stay connected online via Facebook or WhatsApp.  There will be open discussions of ongoing care concerns like diet, exercise, psychological adjustment, cooking tips and whatever other issues you’re dealing with. Sometimes there will be guest speakers, who are usually there to help you stick to your post surgery diet in one way or another. With that, let’s get right to it!


Your Post Surgery Diet(s)

1. The Pureed Diet

You’ll leave the hospital with instructions to follow a pureed diet.  They’ll give you detailed instructions on this, but it basically boils down to putting everything you eat into a blender or cooking it to puree consistency and mashing. Protein powders will be an essential part of your pureed diet regimen, and as always, vitamin and mineral supplements. There are food companies that specialises in bariatric nutrition, selling pre-packaged vitamin-pumped liquid foods, pureed, and soft foods just for people like you.  Usually you can order them online. Duration 1 week  

2. The Soft Diet

When your body is ready for more than pureed food, you’ll move next to what they call a soft diet.  This would be food that’s easy to chew and easy to swallow.  The reasoning behind this is: if it’s tough to chew, it’ll be tough to digest. Here is a list of food you should NOT eat if you’re on a soft food diet:

  • corn
  • hard cheese
  • thick cold cuts of meat
  • sausage
  • hamburger
  • large cheese chunks
  • brown rice
  • dried fruit
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • hard candy
  • cream cheese
  • olives
  • beans
  • fried meat
  • gas-forming veggies like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
  • spicy food
  • coconut
  • nasi dagang
  • beef
  • mutton
  • and veges that are hard to digest such as those green leafy types

You get the idea, right?  Nothing that’s hard, sharp, rough, or large should be ingested while on the soft food diet. Here’s what you CAN eat:

  • very thinly sliced deli meat
  • tofu
  • soft cheese and cream cheese
  • yogurt
  • peanut butter (NOT the crunchy kind!)
  • soft cooked veggies with no skins or seeds
  • mashed potatoes
  • cream soups
  • shredded meat
  • white rice or pasta
  • white bread that’s soft (certainly not some ciabatta or french loaf)
  • gravy
  • fish
  • eggs
Easing Back into Solid Foods

Usually this occurs about eight weeks after your surgery. You’ll start incorporating solid foods a bit at a time.  At this stage, it’s a lot of experimentation to see what you can handle and what you can’t. The trick is to start slow with the regular solid foods and see how our body cope.  You should still avoid super hard/rough food like granola, popcorn, fibrous vegetables like celery, and fried food.  

The Permanent Healthy Diet

Finally, you’ll graduate to your full normal diet, the one you’ll keep permanently.  This now includes solid food but you can’t eat just anything.  Here are some of the new rules:

  • avoid alcohol
  • avoid carbonated drinks
  • avoid sugary drinks and food
  • avoid high-calorie foods, eg biscuits, chips, etc
  • eat mostly protein, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • eggs, beans and dairy products are also good sources of protein
  • take a multivitamin with iron
  • take Vitamin B12
  • take calcium and Vitamin D


How to Eat

  How you eat is also important: it ensures you don’t overeat.  Here are the general rules:

  • eat slowly- extend your meal to 20 or 30 minutes
  • eat frequently (several small meals) throughout the day rather than 3 big ones
  • no snacking on junk food
  • stop eating immediately when you feel full
  • chew your food very thoroughly (at least 20 times before swallowing)
  • eat very small meals
  • don’t drink liquids with your meal because you’ll fill up too fast
  • but do drink lots of liquids in-between meals

If you follow your post-surgery and ongoing diet carefully, and incorporate increasing amounts of exercise into your life, you’ll be increasing the chance of long term success for your weight loss goals.  It’s your full time job now, so make a plan, get support, and stick to it.  Good Luck!

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