Gastric sleeve surgery transforms how your body consumes food. After undergoing this procedure, your stomach will be smaller which means you’ll start eating smaller portions of food and your body won’t absorb every calorie your food contains. Your health care provider will direct you on the best foods to eat and those to avoid.
After surgery, you’ll need to adapt to a new way of eating. You’ll be on a liquid diet the first 21 days after surgery. These first three weeks are vital for minimizing complications and maximizing your recovery and giving your body time to heal. After that, you will be able to introduce soft foods, starting with things like yogurt then transitioning into soft solid foods like ground turkey before returning to regular food.
When eating solid foods, you’ll feel full much quicker. A few bites can fill you up because your stomach pouch can only hold a small amount of food, about a tablespoon. Your stomach pouch will expand over time. Once it’s larger, the pouch will hold up to a cup of food. Don’t stretch it out by eating more than is recommended.
Here are some diet guidelines to follow after gastric sleeve surgery:
- Eat your food slowly and make sure to chew it completely.
- Swallow food only when it’s smooth because the opening between the intestines and your stomach pouch is small. If your food isn’t chewed well, it can block that opening.
- Take 30-40 minutes to eat your meal. If you eat too fast, you can get sick or experience pain under the breastbone.
- When you feel full, immediately stop eating.
- Drink 64 oz of calorie-free liquids or water every day.
When drinking water, always take small sips. Avoid consuming liquids 30 minutes after eating. During mealtime, don’t drink anything. Liquids can make you feel full quickly and prevent you from eating healthy. They can also lubricate food and make you overeat.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure to choose:
- Protein food FIRST
- Vegetable SECOND
- Fruit THIRD
- Starch/grain LAST if at all
For your after-surgery diet, make sure your diet has enough vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Proteins are the most needed, especially after your surgery. They will help build your muscles and tissues and even help with your healing. Eat skinless chicken, lean beef, whole eggs, fish, beans, and dairy products. Avoid foods with high calorie counts, alcohol, and sugary and carbonated drinks.