If you or a loved one is scheduled for bariatric surgery, the doctor will mention that a specialized diet is required both before and after the procedure. As part of your treatment, you’ll be instructed to maintain a liquid diet. But what exactly does that include – or exclude?
To ensure your procedure and the healing process goes smoothly, here are our recommendations for your liquid diet and how to make the most of it.
Liquid Dieting Before Surgery
You’ll be asked to start a liquid diet two weeks before your procedure date. Starting this diet early has two major benefits. The first is short-term weight loss, which could impact what techniques may be used to perform the procedure. The second benefit is that it reduces the liver’s size, which makes it easier to perform the surgery and promotes successful treatment.
Since you’ll still need nutrients such as protein and vitamins, a liquid diet will include multiple protein shakes every day. You may also need vitamin supplements. The doctor will help you determine how much protein you’ll need and what kind of vitamins you should take during this time.
Stage One: The Post-Surgery Clear Liquid Diet
While your digestive system is recovering, we want to let it rest as much as we can by refraining from any complex foods. A clear liquid diet keeps things as simple as possible, including items such as water, chipped or shaved ice, broth, and occasionally, diluted fruit juices. You may also include sugar-free popsicles, frozen juice pops, and sugar-free Jell-O for variety. Keep everything at a comfortable temperature, as hot or cold liquids can upset your stomach.
Staying hydrated is vital to helping your recovery. You’ll need to sip liquids throughout the day, consuming as much as 48-64 ounces (which equals about 6-8 eight-ounce cups). It’s just as important not to guzzle your drink, though, since you don’t want to overwhelm your system. Gentle sipping works best – and always listen to your body to know when you’ve had too much or can’t handle a particular thing.
Here’s a list of drinks and foods that are generally acceptable for a clear liquid diet:
- Drinks – Water, flavored waters (noncarbonated, sugar-free), decaffeinated coffee or tea, low-calorie sports drinks
- Fruit Juice (Diluted; Limit to two cups daily) – Apple, cranberry, grape
- Broths – Clear beef broth, chicken broth, vegetable broth
- Foods – Ice chips or shaved ice, sugar-free gelatin, popsicles, frozen juice bars
Graduating to a Full Liquid Diet
Once the surgeon feels you’re ready, you can move on to the full liquid diet. At this stage, you’ll carefully introduce more nutritional liquids like protein shakes and skim milk. Fat-free yogurt with no added sugar and strained cream soups may also be options at this stage.
To avoid overloading your system, consume meals without an additional drink (i.e., no glass of water with soup). Wait at least thirty minutes after your meal before having something to drink. The surgeon may recommend a protein supplement as well to ensure you have enough protein each day.
Avoiding Added Sugar
It’s vital during your liquid diet to only consume sugars that are naturally occurring, such as in fruit juice. Added sugars can build up into your system and lead to “dumping syndrome,” an unpleasant type of gastrointestinal distress. Carbonated beverages, including sparkling water, should be avoided as well.
Stage Two: The Pureed Diet
The surgeon will determine when you’re ready to move onto more complex foods – in this case, purees. The pureed diet opens up a much broader range of foods, and enjoying something with a thicker, more substantial consistency can feel like refreshing progress. You can buy some foods pureed, but you can also puree many foods at home in a blender or food processor.
Here are some of the foods you can enjoy on the pureed diet:
- Fruits – applesauce, bananas, canned fruits, peaches, apricots, pears, pineapples, melons
- Vegetables - tomato juice, spinach, carrots, summer squash, green beans
- Proteins – yogurt, white fish (cod, tilapia, haddock), cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, beef, chicken, turkey, scrambled eggs
Transitioning to a Normal Diet
Once you’ve passed the puree stage, the surgeon will guide you through to soft foods and eventually into eating a more varied diet overall. While there will still be some dietary restrictions long after, you’ll be able to enjoy a diet that promotes your health and also proves satisfying.
At Murrieta Valley Surgery Center, we care deeply about our patients’ well-being at every stage of their weight loss journey. If you’re considering bariatric surgery and want to know more about what to expect, contact the location nearest you and schedule your consultation today.