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Eating after surgery

  • Questions to ask yourself while eating

    To avoid possible problems, ask yourself these questions whenever you eat:

    • Was the bite small enough?
    • Did I chew it 20 to 30 times to the consistency of applesauce?
    • Did I slow down and take 20 to 30 minutes to eat?
    • Did I stop eating when I felt satisfied?

    General eating guidelines

    Diet examples:

    • diluted juice and sugar free Jell-O
    • clear liquids: broth, water, Propel Enhanced Water, Isopure
    • full liquids: low-fat corn soup, whey or soy protein powder mixed with milk
    • pureed: baby food consistency
    • soft: eggs, peanut butter, refried beans, tofu, chili, ground meat, fish
    • cooked or canned fruits and vegetables

    Make sure you eat foods high in protein.

    Eat slowly. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes for each meal. Stop eating when you reach the right measured amount, at 30 minutes, or when you feel satisfied; whichever is least. One bite too many may make you uncomfortable, nauseated, or sleepy. Putting your fork down between bites may help.

    Take small bites and chew your food 20 to 30 times (or to the texture of applesauce). If you swallow food without chewing well, you can block the opening of the pouch (clogging). This will cause pain, nausea and/or vomiting.

    Eat at the dining room or kitchen table. Eating while watching TV may distract you from chewing well.

    Do not drink liquids 30 minutes before, during, or 30 minutes after eating. Liquids will overfill your pouch. They may also "wash" your food through your stomach pouch too quickly so you won't feel satisfied when you actually are.

    Be sure to drink 64 ounces of water a day between meals.

    Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day at the same times. Do not skip meals even if you are not hungry. Skipping a meal can deprive your body of getting essential nutrients and slows your metabolism. It will also often make you overeat at your next meal. Breakfast needs to be an important part of your everyday routine. Eat breakfast within 90 minutes of waking up.

    Stay away from high-calorie beverages and foods like milkshakes, pop, ice cream and alcohol. They leave your stomach pouch quickly and leave you feeling hungry. In some cases, high-calorie beverages and foods may cause weight gain or severe diarrhea (dumping).

    Avoid alcohol.

    Choose nutritious foods and buy the highest quality food possible. You need food that will nourish your body with vitamins and minerals.

    Avoid caffeinated beverage (coffee, tea or soda). Decaffeinated beverages also have caffeine in them. Caffeine can prevent your body from absorbing iron and cause iron-poor blood. Also, caffeine is an appetite stimulant and can make you want to eat more or snack.

    If you feel a need to eat when you are feeling upset, bored, nervous, or any other feeling, you can:

    • brush your teeth
    • go for a walk or go for a drive
    • call a friend
    • write in a journal
    • go to a support group 
    • go to the gym or work on a project/hobby
    • go to a movie
    • rest, take a bath
    • drink water
    • turn off the TV
  • Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery: What You Need to Know Before and After Surgery, fourth edition, surg-ahc-90091
    Reviewed by: Stacy Erstad, PA-C, MPAS, Allina Health Weight Management
    First published: 01/24/2005
    Last reviewed: 09/04/2017