Bariatric Pre-Op vs. Bariatric Post-Op Foods: The Latest Guidelines - Rational Foods
Bariatric Pre-Op vs. Bariatric Post-Op Foods: The Latest Guidelines

Bariatric Pre-Op vs. Bariatric Post-Op Foods: The Latest Guidelines

October 30, 2018

When working with patients who are committing to bariatric surgery, whether it’s gastric bypass, gastric band, or sleeve gastrectomy, it’s imperative to understand that their daily diet will change dramatically. We already know that the stomach size of the patient will be reduced following surgery, and overeating is harmful. In addition, certain types of foods are detrimental to the results of the surgery.

But are you aware that there are also bariatric pre-op foods? To help your patients choose the right foods before a surgery, as well as bariatric post-op foods, here are the latest guidelines.

Bariatric Pre-Op Foods

In order to prepare the body for bariatric surgery, the patient's diet must change prior to the procedure. For 14 days prior to surgery, they will need to follow a liquid diet. This is important for a few reasons:

  1. It will help wean their body off of solid foods, which will be off the menu for a while after they have the surgery.
  2. A liquid diet will also prepare their system for a reduction in caloric intake during the recovery period. Along this same lines, by reducing their fat intake with bariatric pre-op foods, the patient is also cutting down the fat surrounding the spleen and liver. This is paramount for a successful surgery.
  3. Finally, by sticking to a liquid diet, the patient is also preparing their body for the decreased digestion that will occur post-surgery.

So what kind of food should you recommend for patients pre-op? In general, they need to eat a high-protein diet that is low in simple and complex carbohydrates.

Here are some ideas for types of bariatric pre-op foods and beverages to include in their diet:

  • Pureed foods in pouches, such as pouches containing whole food purees high in protein but free of additives and saturated fats
  • Sugar-free foods, such as gelatin, and drinks including beverages containing sugar substitutes
  • Soup broth free of chunks of food
  • Vegetable juice
  • Thinned cream of wheat

In addition, the patient will need to avoid caffeine, as well as carbonated beverages including mineral water. Another helpful tip is to eat and drink separately. This is another preparation for the recovery process. Once the individual has bariatric surgery, they will have to wait at least half an hour after each meal to drink a beverage.

Bariatric Post-Op Foods

After any type of bariatric surgery, your patient will continue to restrict their diet to liquids and pureed foods for at least three weeks. During this stage, their food and beverage consumption will vary according to a recovery timeline.

For the first week, the patient will be restricted to clear liquids as their body heals from the surgical procedure. They should also avoid fats in these liquids. Examples of foods that can be consumed include fat-free broth, water, and sugar-free gelatin.

By weeks two and three the patient can typically transition to pureed foods and shakes. At this time, their body is adjusting to the new stomach size, which has been reduced with the bariatric surgery. The patient's post-op diet should also be fat-free and high in protein. This aids in weight loss, but also helps in satiation and keeping the individual feeling full for a longer period of time.

Types of post-op foods for bariatric patients include:

  • Non-fat soft cheeses including cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt, plain
  • Egg whites cooked and pureed with fat-free broth

Often dietitians recommend protein shakes for bariatric post-op foods. However, the problem with most protein shakes is that they are filled with chemicals, additives, and artificial flavors. These ingredients can make the individual feel hungry, unsatisfied, or lightheaded and could be masked as caffeine, sugars, or fats—all of which are not allowed on a post-op bariatric diet.

Rather than sticking to protein shakes and smoothies, recommend a more natural food source for your patients. For instance, food purees in pouches that are designed for bariatric post-op foods sources, such as Achieve pouches, are ideal. These pouches are high in protein and contain the vitamins and minerals the body needs to recover more efficiently from bariatric surgery.

In addition, eating whole foods in pureed form will help the patient's body learn to adjust to a more healthy diet. This focus on nutrition will serve your patients well as they continue their long-lasting weight loss journey after a successful bariatric surgery.