Bariatric Diet Counseling
Dedicated Support from Bariatric Dietitians – Before and After Surgery
Diet and lifestyle changes are important both for a successful surgery and for maintaining weight loss long-term. As a patient in Crozer Health ’s Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Program, you’ll meet regularly with the experts on our Nutrition Services team – both pre-op and post-op – to ensure a successful surgery, a rapid recovery and an enduring healthy lifestyle.
The bariatric team will ask that you make changes before surgery in order to make the transition easier after surgery. The following is an overview of the diet required before and after weight loss surgery.
You’ll have monthly one-on-one sessions with one of our registered dietitians to:
- Identify areas where you would like to make changes
- Help you prepare for the unique nutritional needs of your post-surgical digestive system
- Review your special pre-operative diet
- Establish goals for a successful transition after surgery
Before surgery, the bariatric dietitian will ask that you begin limiting simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. The new stomach after surgery does not tolerate these foods and, consequently, they can inhibit weight loss. Foods to avoid include sugar and sweets such as candy and cookies, white bread, white rice and white pasta, as well as high sugar drinks such as soda, juice and sports drinks.
High protein foods are encouraged such as poultry, fish, lean meats, eggs and low-fat dairy. In addition, we ask that you start practicing some “pre-operative techniques” in order to increase compliance and success after surgery. Some of these techniques include chewing your food very well (about 20-30 times per bite!), eating slowly and always eating protein first at your meals and snacks.
After surgery, your dietitians will help you create realistic, easy-to-follow meal plans and eating schedules based on your personal preferences. They’ll also be on hand during support group meetings for ongoing counseling and encouragement.
Your diet will be slowly advanced in stages - from liquids to pureed foods to soft foods and finally to regular foods. It is important to follow the lists of foods on each diet stage given to you by your team while you are healing from surgery. Following the diet progression will help you to heal from the surgery and prevent complications.
You will also start on vitamin supplements to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Your stomach will be smaller so you won’t be eating as much food. Additionally, you also won’t absorb some vitamins as well as you were able to before surgery. Therefore, vitamins such as calcium and iron are necessary lifelong after surgery.
As your diet is advanced, you should introduce foods slowly and carefully. Foods and liquids that commonly cause discomfort include meat, bread, raw vegetables and fried foods.
You should continue practicing everything you learned before surgery for the rest of your life. Your diet should consist of lots of protein and vegetables, moderate amounts of fruits and whole grains and you should avoid high sugar and high-fat foods. You should always aim for eight glasses of sugar-free fluids daily (water is the best option!). In addition, regular exercise will help you to continue losing weight and maintain your weight loss once you meet your goal.