Your procedure is finished, the gastric bypass went well, and the doctor says you are healing beautifully. Unfortunately, plans for a delicious dinner out at that fabulous new restaurant will not be on your schedule any time soon. In fact, it will probably be a full three to four months before you can eat real food again. In order to allow your body to adapt to its new digestive processes after surgery, your doctor will most likely have you go through four distinct nutritional stages before you can choose your meals like normal.
Stage 1: Liquids Only
For a few days after surgery, you will not be able to eat solid foods at all. During this immediate post-operative period, you will be given liquids like water, milk, and broth, told to drink your fluids very slowly. You will also be discouraged from drinking any beverages with caffeine or carbonation.
Stage 2: Pureed Foods
If the liquids-only stage goes well, you will then proceed to eating some real food – but only when it is pureed into a mush-like substance that has the consistency of a paste. The blender will be your best friend during this stage, which can last from a couple weeks to a full month because your meals should not contain any solid pieces of food. It is best to choose foods that will blend easily, like cottage cheese, yogurt, lean meats, and fish. Then just mix this food with a liquid in the blender. Fat-free milk, sugar-free juice, and broth are good choices.
Stage 3: Soft Foods Only
Once your doctor feels you are ready for more, you will introduce solid foods that are soft into your diet. Some good choices during this stage are canned fruits, diced meats, and cooked vegetables. You will need to eat only soft foods for several more weeks before trying anything more.
Stage 4: Solid Foods
After roughly two to three months if not more, you will be ready to start introducing solid foods back into your diet slowly. Be sure to do so slowly and be careful about dishes that are spicy or tough and crunchy. Patients encounter some foods that they simply cannot tolerate for a long time after surgery, so it is best to take it slowly and try new foods only one at a time.
After successfully going through these four stages, you will gradually get closer and closer to a normal diet. Remember that “normal” now means much smaller portions than what you were used to before the procedure. Although it is essential for every one of any weight to eat slowly, watch portion size, take vitamins as recommended, and drink plenty of water, it is even more imperative that people who have had gastric bypass surgery do so. Using some common sense and following your doctor’s orders will get you back to being able to enjoy a delicious dinner out at that great restaurant in a healthy, responsible way.