Once your bariatric procedure is over and the healing process has begun, you will need to adjust to a whole new way of eating. Because your stomach will have changed in shape and size, portion control will play a critical role in your diet. This means you should eat smaller and more frequent meals to ensure you receive a range of vital nutrients.
One key nutrient is protein, and it is essential to healing your body after surgery. If you do not incorporate enough protein into your diet, you may experience weakness or even hair loss. Your body cannot store protein for long, which is why you should make sure you get enough protein at each meal.
In the initial weeks and months following surgery, your digestive system can only tolerate liquids, soft foods and pureed foods. Once you have moved on to solid foods, you should strive to consume two ounces of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most patients are unable to consume red meats such as beef, pork and lamb in the first six months after surgery.
Use the following chart to help you meet your protein needs:
|Portion Size||Type of Food||Grams of Protein|
|8 ounces||Nonfat milk or 1% milk||8|
Plain low-fat yogurt or artificially sweetened low-fat yogurt
1 egg or1/4 cup egg substitute
|1 ounce||Lean turkey, chicken, fish, beef, pork (cooked)||7|
|1/4 cup||Tuna (fresh or packed in water)||7|
|1/4 cup||Ground meat/poultry||7|
|1/4 cup||Nonfat/low-fat cottage cheese||7|
|1 ounce||Cheese (nonfat/low-fat)||7|
|8 ounces||Soy Milk (unsweetened)||6|
|1/4 cup||Tofu or prepared textured soy protein||5|
|1 ounce||Soy cheese||5|
|1/4 cup||Mashed kidney bean, pinto beans, lentils||3|
To incorporate more protein to your diet, you can also:
- Add nonfat milk, nonfat evaporated milk or nonfat powdered milk to soups, hot cereals, casseroles, sauces, mashed potatoes, no-sugar-added puddings and custards.
- Add chopped beans/legumes with low-fat cheese and milk
If you are having difficulty eating your required amount of protein, you can drink Sugar-free Carnation® Instant Breakfast, or make a drink using whey protein powder supplement. Do not use Ensure®, Boost®, Slim Fast® or other products advertised as meal replacement drinks, as they tend to have too much sugar.
Although protein is an important part of your diet after bariatric surgery, you’ll also need to focus on other food groups. Dairy, fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains deliver different essential vitamins and minerals, and you should strive to incorporate anywhere from two servings (grains, starches and dairy) to four servings (fruits, vegetables and meat or meat substitutes) of each.
As part of Inspira’s bariatric surgery program, we provide nutrition counseling and support groups to help you grow accustomed to your new diet. During these counseling sessions, patients will learn/receive:
- Progressive meal patterns
- Behavior modification techniques
- Allowable food options
- Post-operative support