The diet following weight loss surgery is divided into stages of dietary progression. You should be working with your physician and dietitian to determine your appropriate stage. You will consume a liquid to semi-liquid diet that progresses to soft foods and finally a regular, healthy low fat diet. While the food consumed is similar for gastric banding and gastric bypass, the progression for the gastric bypass is slower. No matter which type of surgery you have, one of the most important things to remember is that everyone will advance at his or her own pace. The guidelines for dietary progression are:
- Clear Liquid
- Full Liquid
- Pureed Diet
- Maintenance Phase I
- Maintenance Phase II
Clear liquids are consumed in 30cc (1 ounce or 2 Tablespoons) increments every 15-20 minutes. Fluids are sipped not gulped! Examples of clear liquids that may be consumed are decaffeinated tea and coffee, clear broth, clear juices such as apple, grape, light cranberry, sugar-free Popsicles and sugar-free gelatin. Remembering to take a sip so frequently can be difficult. Use a kitchen timer to remind you to drink every 15-20 minutes. If you work daily on a computer, an automated reminder to “take a sip” can be useful.
Full liquids are the next dietary progression. You are still consuming one to two tablespoons every 15-20 minutes. Now you have a protein goal of 30 grams a day. You will alternate your full liquids with your clear liquids and consume six cups of liquid over a 12-hour period each day. When starting the full liquid diet you also incorporate low carbohydrate protein powders or shakes as well as milk, yogurt, cream of wheat or rice, farina and grits. In order to help you meet your protein goal, you may want to try double milk that has 16 grams of protein in approximately 1 cup. It is made by adding 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder to one cup of skim milk and is often used when making sugar-free pudding. With the initiation of dairy products, symptoms of lactose intolerance may be a problem. If you were lactose intolerant prior to the surgery, you will probably remain so after surgery. Some develop it after surgery but usually it is temporary. If the symptoms remain, try using lactose-free or soymilk. Chewable pills or drops that break down the lactose are also available.