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Your Diet After Bariatric Surgery

Weight ManagementYou may think that all of your favorite foods are off-limits once you have bariatric surgery. However, a post-bariatric-surgery diet can still include meals and snacks you will enjoy. You just need to keep certain guidelines in mind as you plan your meals, according to Vicki LaGanke, registered dietitian at MetroHealth.

Healthy Long-Term Eating Habits

After your bariatric surgery, you will work closely with MetroHealth dietitians to adjust your calorie intake. 

“For the first few weeks after surgery, you do have to stick with a liquid diet and protein supplement,” Vicki said. “But gradually, you will begin to eat regular food again.” 

When you are ready to eat solid foods, MetroHealth dietitians will help you plan meals that:

  • are low in fat and sugar
  • leave you feeling satisfied 
  • keep your nutrient intake high

"After bariatric surgery, thinking ahead and planning your meals is critical,” Vicki said. “This is a habit you will have to prioritize for the rest of your life, so we will help you set achievable goals from the beginning.”

Tips for Eating Well After Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery reduces the amount of food you need to feel full. So you will feel full faster and need to be selective about what you eat. 

“We want to make sure you are getting the important things in first at each meal,” Vicki said. “You do not want to begin with a starch, which will fill you up but may not give you all the nutrients you need.”

Instead, Vicki recommends the following guidelines: 

  • Eat protein first and at every meal. Protein should take up about a half of your plate. Focus on lean, low-fat sources. Options include white-meat poultry without skin, fish, lean pork, beans, eggs and cottage cheese. Try to eat 60–80 grams of protein per day.
  • Include a fruit or vegetable with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fruits and vegetables should take up a third of your plate. You should aim for at least three servings per day. 
  • Avoid starches for up to six months after surgery. When you add starches back into your diet, they should take up the smallest portion on your plate. 
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit. When a sugar craving hits, eat berries and clementines instead of cakes and cookies. The fiber-rich fruits may make your cravings go away. 
  • Drink water. Sugar-free or zero-calorie drinks are OK on occasion. Do not drink sugary drinks, such as sweet tea, soda or juice.
  • Do not drink carbonated liquids for the first year after surgery.  It can cause severe complications, such as leaks and significant pain.  

Healthy Eating Guides

These downloadable guides give you nutrient-specific information about how and what to eat after bariatric surgery. 


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