Dietary Guidelines

Two red apples

Obesity surgery doesn't eliminate dieting altogether. It means that if patients adhere to the prescribed diet for the rest of their lives, they'll lose the excess weight and keep it off. On the contrary, if you ever go off the diet, you will gradually regain the weight lost.

It’s important to start implementing this diet even before the surgery because pre-surgery weight-loss helps the surgeon by making the laparoscopic approach easier and safer and increases the likelihood that the surgery can be completed less invasively.

Other dietary requirements are basic common sense eating. With sensible eating and exercise habits (three healthy meals a day with healthy snacks), the weight-loss can be easily maintained after surgery.

The long-term goal of weight-loss surgery is to lose approximately 70 to 80 percent of your excess weight. The end result of gastric bypass surgery is that patients will continue to require only small portions of food and eventually be able to tolerate all types of foods. Patients’ bodies will be satisfied with smaller amounts of food and they won’t have continued cravings for larger quantities of food at mealtimes.

Remember that this program is an individual process and patients may not progress from one diet plan to the next in the exact time frame given. Adapting to new foods won’t happen overnight, it’s a learning process. Also, keep in mind it takes approximately six months before the body will be able to tolerate all types of foods, especially meats, and it’s possible you won’t tolerate eating some foods at all.

Post-Surgery Dietary Plan

  • Because of the reduced stomach size, the amount of food allowed is limited to no more than 1 to 2 ounces every 30 to 60 minutes.
  • High-calorie foods, beverages or snacks are completely omitted from this diet.
  • It’s imperative that food be eaten slowly and in very small quantities at mealtime. Plan approximately 20 to 30 minutes for each meal.
  • To prevent dehydration, drinking  at least 6 cups of fluids daily are encouraged. We advise sipping 1 cup of liquid over a one-hour period.
  • Stop sipping liquids within 45 to 60 minutes of each mealtime.
  • Because patients’ calorie intake is very low and food choices are limited, it is difficult to meet the body's need for vitamins and minerals; therefore, multivitamin and mineral supplements in a chewable tablet or liquid form are recommended to provide 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Bariatric Clear Liquid Diet

For the first seven days after surgery, begining in the hospital, you will drink out of medicine cups, starting out by sipping 30 cc over the course of 30 minutes. It should take eight to 10 sips to finish the medicine cup.

You will go home on a bariatric clear liquid diet. You can drink out of regular glasses, but continue to take very small sips. The goal is to drink 48 ounces of water and 24 ounces of skim milk each day at home. Do not use straws. Do not gulp liquids or drink quickly. This can cause abdominal pain and intense nausea.

The following clear liquids can be consumed during this phase:

  • Water
  • Skim milk
  • Sugar free popsicles
  • Clear broth
  • Sugar Free Gelatin (no fruit or nuts)

Bariatric Clear Liquid Diet Suggestions

  • During this period, you need to drink 3 cups skim milk and 6 cups water each day to prevent dehydration.
  • You may be able to drink three very small meals a day. A meal consists of 2 ounces of milk and 1 ounce of broth.
  • Take your time and sip slowly.
  • Walking can help liquid move out of stomach pouch. Walk at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Keep track of your intake on the form we provide you.
  • If you wake up with nausea, sip on a ginger tea.

If you’re unable to tolerate liquids as instructed, please call our office at 319-356-7694.

Bariatric Full Liquid Diet

One month after surgery, your diet will consist of three small meals (3 ounces or 1/3 cup each) and 8 ounces double milk for snacks three times a day. The recipe for double milk is: 1 cup skim milk with 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder added. Flavor these with no-sugar-added powders or syrups, as desired. Continue to drink at least 6 cups plain water per day. Start your vitamin/mineral supplements when you start this diet.

Examples of Bariatric Full Liquid Diet foods include:

  • Cream soups (blended and strained)
  • Sugar free pudding
  • Smooth light yogurt
  • Anything allowed on the clear liquid diet

Bariatric Full Liquid Diet Suggestions

  • During this period, you need to eat three very small meals a day. Initially 1 to 2 tablespoons of food may be all your body is able to tolerate. Stop if you feel a full pressure. Do not take an extra bite.
  • Take your time and eat slowly.
  • Walking can help food move out of stomach pouch.
  • Goal is to get 50-60gms of protein each day. Drinking 3 cups double milk each day provides 48 gms protein. These can be consumed hot, cold or flavored in a variety of ways.
  • If you feel gassy, bloated or have loose stools on this diet, it may be lactose intolerance. This is generally temporary. Take Lactase enzyme tablets (such as Lactaid) and try soy milk or lactose-free milk to alleviate symptoms.
  • Constipation is not uncommon on this diet. Add Benefiber, FiberSure or Metamucil-Smooth to each double milk to promote regularity.

Bariatric Pureed Diet

Four to six weeks after surgery, your diet will consist of three small meals (3 to 4 ounces or 1/3-1/2 cup each) and 8 ounces of skim milk for snacks three times a day. Continue to drink at least 6 cups plain water per day. Do not drink with a meal, for 30 minutes prior to a meal or 45 minutes after a meal.

Bariatric Pureed Diet foods include:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Refried beans
  • Cottage cheese
  • Scrambled egg (light and fluffy)
  • Farina (Cream of Wheat or Malt-O-Meal)
  • Pureed meats (puree ¼ cup broth with ¼ cup chopped meat)
  • Pureed vegetables (puree ¼ cup vegetable with water or broth)
  • Pureed fruits (puree ¼ cup fruit with 2 to 4 tablespoons of water)
  • Anything allowed on the full or clear liquid diets

When you start the pureed diet:

  • Add variety and intensity to your exercise. This is the time to add weights.
  • Eat protein food first (1 to 2 ounces per meal; 4 to 5 ounces total)
  • Continue to get 50-60gms protein per day
  • Make your last milk a double milk if you don’t have 50gms protein in by end of day

Bariatric Soft Diet

Six to eight weeks after surgery, your diet will consist of three small meals (3 to 4 ounces or 1/3-1/2 cup each) and 8 ounces skim milk for snacks three times a day. Continue to drink at least 6 cups plain water per day. Do not drink with a meal, for 30 minutes prior to a meal or 45 minutes after a meal. Chew food to puree consistency.

Bariatric Soft Diet foods include:

  • Well cooked vegetables (no skin)
  • Canned fruits (in own juice or light syrup) or ripe fruit (no skin)
  • Fish
  • Tender meats/poultry (cook in water, crock pot or slow cooker)
  • Anything allowed on the pureed, full, or clear liquid diets

When you start the soft diet:

  • Eat protein food first (1 to 2 ounces per meal; 4 to 5 ounces total)
  • Chew your food to puree consistency. Take 20-30 chews before swallowing.
  • Continue to add variety and intensity to your exercise.
  • Continue to get 50-60gms protein per day
  • Make your last milk a double milk if you don’t have 50gms protein in by end of day

Bariatric General Diet

Eight weeks after surgery, your diet will consist of three small meals (3 to 4 ounces or 1/3-1/2 cup each) and 8 ounces of skim milk for snacks three times a day. Continue to drink at least 6 cups plain water per day. Do not drink with a meal, for 30 minutes prior to a meal or 45 minutes after a meal. Chew food to puree consistency.

Bariatric General Diet foods include:

  • Vegetables (no skin)
  • Fruit, canned or fresh (no skin, in own juice or light syrup)
  • Fish
  • Tender meats/poultry (cook in water, crock pot or slow cooker)
  • Anything allowed on the soft, pureed, full, clear liquid diets

When you start the general diet:

  • Eat protein food first (1 to 2 ounces per meal; 4 to 5 ounces total)
  • Chew your food to puree consistency. Take 20-30 chews before swallowing.
  • Continue to add variety and intensity to your exercise.
  • Bread, rice and pasta often are poorly tolerated (toast, tortillas or pita bread may be tolerated)
  • Tough, dry meats are poorly tolerated
  • Six months after surgery, strive for 40-50gms protein per day.

Contact Us

UI Obesity Surgery
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
200 Hawkins Drive, 4604 JCP
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-356-1887
Fax: 319-353-6192