Gastric Sleeve Post-Op Diet: How To Stay on Track

4 Stages of Gastric Sleeve Post-Op Diet

Once you have made it past the pre-operative diet and the surgery, you have accomplished a monumental goal and you should be very proud! These are both huge steps on your journey to a healthier life and you know better than anyone what a challenge it was. You may think that the hardest part is over but the truth is, for most patients, it is “the rest of your life” phase that is the hardest, and gastric sleeve post-op diet is part of it.

Bariatric surgery is only a tool to help individuals lose weight. It helps curb the appetite and decrease the stomach size to inhibit the ability to overeat. The surgery is not magic and it will take work and determination to implement and continue the lifestyle changes necessary to lose weight and keep it off.

What Can I Eat after Gastric Sleeve Procedure?

Just as you experienced a pre-operative diet to reduce surgical risks, now you will begin the implementation of the post-operative diet, which will start off as liquids only and transition gradually to solid foods. If you wish to remain healthy, continue to lose weight, or maintain your healthy weight goal you will never be able to eat the way you did prior to surgery.

You will begin slowly to reintroduce foods into your healing stomach, and it is critical that you follow the diet plan and timeline provided by your surgeon to prevent post-op complications. As you navigate your way through this new way of living, thinking, and eating, keep in mind that what you are doing is hard. Give yourself room to be crabby and do not be surprised if you find yourself experiencing mood swings. It is recommended that you take full advantage of your support system during this time. If you don’t have a sufficient support system, make sure to take advantage of the support resources that IBI Healthcare Institute provides to patients. IBI Healthcare Institute Weight Loss Support Group on Facebook is a great place to start.

Video: Tips For Post Endoscopic Gastric Sleeve Procedure Success

What Happens If I Don’t Follow Gastric Sleeve Post-Op Diet?

In short, if you cheat on your post-operative diet plan, you may experience unpleasant symptoms including diarrhea, dehydration, constipation, bowel obstruction or stomach leaking, which could even be a life-threatening medical emergency. Let’s look at some specifics to help you understand better.

Your Stomach Needs a Break

After bariatric surgery, your stomach needs time to heal. The natural course of the digestive tract uses a series of muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract into the stomach, then out of the stomach with the waste being expelled out of the body. These wave-like contractions are temporarily paralyzed while your stomach is healing so your body cannot handle anything at this point but liquids. Expecting your paralyzed healing stomach to handle solids before it is able can result in nausea or  vomiting, or potentially, more serious consequences.

Potential Stomach Leak

After laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery, you will have a staple line where the edges of your stomach were sealed together after a section of it was removed. It is critical that this staple line be allowed to heal adequately and become stronger before it is put under any type of pressure. If the staple line were to gap, stomach fluid would seep into the abdominal cavity causing a potentially life-threatening medical emergency that can result in open surgery to correct. Attempting to introduce solid foods, carbonated drinks or alcohol will put your stomach at risk.

Stretching Your Stomach after Gastric Sleeve

Cheating on your post-op gastric sleeve diet can cause your stomach to stretch out permanently. The major benefit of the bariatric surgery tool is to make the stomach smaller, limiting the number of calories patients can consume at each meal and the benefit of feeling “full” longer. If you have just spent weeks on a special diet and have gone through major surgery, would you want it to all be in vain?

Heartburn after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Attempting to eat solid foods before your stomach can handle them increases your chances of developing reflux and heartburn. It takes your stomach and digestive system longer to process solid foods (about 6 hours) versus liquids (only 2-4 hours). Some patients have reported excruciating chest pains during heartburn episodes.

Cheating on your post-operative gastric sleeve diet is counterproductive to your goal of living a healthier lifestyle and could negate the effect of your surgery.

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What Does The Post-Op Diet after Gastric Sleeve Look Like?

There are a few different gastric sleeve procedures used to make the stomach smaller. Depending on which procedure is used, the patient’s BMI, and/or related health conditions, the duration of each dietary phase may vary.

The table below reflects approximate durations for the surgical laparoscopic gastric sleeve (LSG or VSG) and non-surgical endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG).

Post-Op Diet after LSG and ESG Chart

LSG ESG
Phase 1 – Liquids Only
Week 1 – Clear liquid diet.

Week 2 – Full liquid diet with protein.

Week 1 – Full liquid diet, sugar-free, non-carbonated, non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic liquids.
Phase 2 – Pureed Foods
Week 3 – Low sugar/fat pureed foods. Skip this phase with ESG.
Phase 3 – Soft Foods
Week 4 – Soft foods that are low in sugar/fat and are protein-rich that mash with a regular fork with ease. Weeks 2-3 – Soft foods that are low sugar/low fat but contain protein that can easily be mashed with a regular fork.
Phase 4 – Solids & Stabilization
Beginning week 5 and beyond – Solid foods that are low in sugar/fat can be introduced. Beginning week 4 and beyond – Solid foods that are low in fat/sugar can be introduced.

What Are the Stages of Gastric Sleeve Post-Op Diet?

After gastric sleeve surgery, foods are introduced slowly in phases, gradually moving from liquids to solids. Regardless of the type of bariatric procedure you have to control weight loss, these phases contain the same types of foods. Here are some examples of the different phases and types of foods each contains (your actual diet prescribed by your surgeon can differ from these examples):

Clear Liquids

All must be sugar-free and low fat, e.g. broth, water, Jello, decaffeinated tea, decaffeinated coffee, sugar-free popsicles, and other sugar-free beverages that do not contain carbonation. Avoid all carbonated beverages, any beverages with sugar, any beverages with caffeine.

Full Liquid Diet

Includes all items listed in the clear liquid diet but also may include thicker liquids and liquids that contain protein, such as:

  • non-fat yogurt,
  • sugar-free carnation instant breakfast,
  • thinned creamed soups that do not contain any chunks,
  • soup with very soft noodles,
  • sugar-free pudding,
  • low sugar very watery oatmeal,
  • no sugar added juices diluted 50% with water,
  • low sugar applesauce diluted with water, and
  • sugar-free, no fat ice cream.

Pureed Foods

Pureed foods are foods that have been put in a blender and resemble the consistency of baby food. As a general rule, this category will contain things like:

  • protein shakes made with no sugar almond milk or coconut milk,
  • low-fat cottage cheese,
  • hummus, soft steamed vegetables,
  • soft cheeses,
  • ground chicken or very lean ground beef,
  • soups,
  • scrambled eggs,
  • soft steamed fish,
  • canned tuna or salmon,
  • mashed fruits that are low in sugar,
  • and avocados.

Avoid sugar, bread, rice, pasta, and other starchy foods and veggies that cause gas like broccoli, celery, raw leafy greens, and asparagus.

Soft Foods

Foods that can be mashed up with a regular fork without effort are considered soft foods; these are not pureed foods. The goal is low sugar, low fat, protein-rich foods such as tuna, lean ground beef, beans, lentils, and baked fish. Avoid pasta, bread, starchy foods, foods with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, and saturated fat.

Solid Foods

This is the final phase of your gastric sleeve diet and the one that will be your new normal. Solid foods include all foods that are low in fat, low in sugar, and are not included on the list of foods to be avoided. It is important that you introduce these solids gradually to avoid issues with constipation, upset stomach, or diarrhea.

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Gastric Sleeve Post-Op Diet FAQs

What Is the Typical Portion Size after Gastric Sleeve Procedure?

After your surgery, you will not be able to eat as much as you did before. Your mealtime portion size will start at about ½ cup and gradually work up to 1 cup size portions after several months.

How to Ensure Staying on the Right Track?

  • Take your recommended supplements – the supplements that are recommended by your surgeon or nutritionist are key elements in your gastric sleeve post-op diet. They will ensure you do not experience deficiencies that can lead to other, more serious issues.
  • Do not drink with meals – this takes some getting used to as most of us are historically accustomed to having consumed food and beverages interchangeably during meals. This causes the stomach to stretch and also liquids take up valuable space needed for food to ensure you get enough vitamins and nutrients each day.
  • Choose foods that are packed with nutrients, e.g. fish, banana, and apple vs. bread, which is empty (has low nutritional value).
  • Do not drink your calories – when you are on a limited calorie diet, you want to make the most of it. Liquids run through our systems faster and do not stick with us. It is wiser to spend your calories on something that will make you feel full longer and will provide more nutritional value.
  • Do not rush through your meals and chew your food well – this will ensure easier digestion as well as give your stomach time to indicate that it is full.
  • Drink 64 oz of water every day – it is important to stay well hydrated and stop drinking about 30 minutes before each meal.
  • Avoid using the microwave to cook or reheat meals – Microwaving tends to dry out food making it harder to chew and digest. It also removes many valuable nutrients that we need from foods.
  • Limit alcohol – consuming alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery can put your liver at risk. It converts energy into fat which leads to weight gain.

What Foods Should I NOT Eat After Gastric Sleeve?

Because each individual is different, their tolerance for different types of food after gastric sleeve surgery will vary. Typically, it takes about a year to determine which foods are going to cause problems for you versus which foods you will tolerate very well.

Following is a list of foods that have been reported by patients to be problematic (meaning they experienced discomfort or some type of physical reaction when they consumed these foods after weight loss surgery).

  • Starchy foods and carbohydrates like pasta, bread, rice, and oatmeal;
  • Fruit and veggies with tough skin like cucumbers and apple, they are best peeled;
  • Tough meats like steak, chicken/turkey breast, thick salmon;
  • Grilled meat: grilling tends to make things chewy and the outer surface tougher;
  • Desserts and sugary drinks are high in fat and sugar, and can also cause dumping. They also are high in calories and can cause crashes and extra cravings afterward.
  • Foods with high-fat contents such as fried foods, butter, and high-fat dairy products;
  • Snacks (junk foods) like chips or cookies.

Your commitment, dedication, and determination in improving your health and losing weight have to be stronger than your desire to eat an unhealthy diet and revert back to old habits. It is important that you stick to your post-op diet and persevere the results when it gets tough. IBI Healthcare Institute team is here to help you!

Reach out to that support system in the tough times and celebrate every victory no matter how small. If you would like to learn more about surgical gastric sleeve or non-surgical endosleeve, contact IBI Healthcare Institute today and set up a consultation. We are here to help you achieve your weight loss goals and improve your health. You deserve to be the best and healthiest version of yourself!

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