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Bariatric Surgery

Eating and Nutrition

What will I be able to eat right after surgery?

You will need to eat fluid-type foods right after your surgery. Fluid-type foods are easier on your stomach while it heals and recovers from surgery. Your healthcare team will tell you what you can eat and drink after surgery and how long you need to eat fluid-type foods. Most people will need to eat fluid-type foods for about 2 weeks.

It’s hard to get all the nutrients you need with only fluid-type foods. You will need to take nutrition supplements to help meet your energy and protein needs after surgery. Talk to your dietitian about fluid-type foods and the type and amount of supplement that is best for you.

Some foods and drinks may bother your stomach while it heals. Avoid the following right after your surgery:

  • any solid or semi-solid foods
  • carbonated drinks (drinks with bubbles)
  • higher-fibre​ foods
  • caffeine
  • alcohol

How will my eating change after bariatric surgery?

After surgery, you will need to make changes to what you eat and how you eat. Your dietitian will talk to you about the changes you need to make and help you meet your nutrition needs. This includes:

  • eating a balanced meal of small portions of solid food (when you no longer need to eat fluid-type foods only)
  • eating foods higher in protein at each meal and snack
  • eating slowly and chewing your food well
  • avoiding having a drink with meals and waiting 30 minutes after eating solid food before you drink fluids
  • avoiding carbonated drinks
  • limiting foods and drinks higher in sugar
  • avoiding foods that are hard to chew, such as sticky, gummy, stringy, or tough foods

It takes time to learn how different foods and drinks make you feel after surgery. Some foods may cause discomfort because of their texture. How certain foods make you feel may change over time. Everyone handles food differently, so what bothers you may not bother someone else. Your dietitian will talk to you about which foods are best to eat and those to avoid after surgery.

Do I need to take vitamins and minerals after bariatric surgery?

Yes, you will need to take vitamins and minerals after having bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery puts you at risk for low levels of vitamins and minerals after surgery because you may:

  • be eating less food
  • not be able to eat certain foods or textures
  • not be able to absorb as many vitamins and minerals as your body could before surgery
  • have other health problems or take certain medicines

Vitamins and minerals are important to help your body work properly so you will need to take vitamin and mineral supplements every day for the rest of your life. Talk to your dietitian about the type and amount of supplements that are best for you. Your needs for vitamin and mineral supplements can change over time, so it’s important to see a dietitian to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need.

How do I know if my vitamin levels are low?

The best way to check your vitamin levels is by getting a blood test. You may not have signs or symptoms of a low vitamin level until they are very low. This is why it’s important to go for blood tests when your doctor orders them and to go to all of your appointments with your doctor and dietitian.

Can I drink alcohol after bariatric surgery?

You should avoid alcohol right after surgery. This will help your stomach to heal and prevent an interaction with any pain medicines that you may be taking. You should also avoid alcohol if you are planning a family, driving or are told by your doctor not to drink.

Bariatric surgery changes how your body handles alcohol. You may feel the effects of alcohol faster, even if you drink less. The effects of alcohol may also last longer. Some people may need to avoid alcohol for the rest of their lives after surgery. Talk to your doctor about having alcohol after bariatric surgery.

What is dumping syndrome?

Dumping syndrome is a group of symptoms that happen when food moves too fast from the stomach to the small intestine. People who have had surgery on their stomach or intestine may develop dumping syndrome.

Some symptoms of dumping syndrome can develop as early as 30 minutes after eating or drinking. Symptoms may include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach pain or cramping
  • diarrhea
  • feeling full or bloated
  • a faster heart beat

Some symptoms develop 1 to 3 hours after eating and are called late symptoms. Late symptoms happen when there are changes to the amount of insulin and sugar in your blood. They include:

  • flushing or sweating
  • feeling like you need to lie down right away
  • feeling weak or dizzy
  • feeling anxious, nervous, or shaky
  • a drop in blood pressure

Many people are able to manage dumping syndrome by changing the way that they eat such as:

  • eating smaller meals, throughout the day
  • limiting food and drinks higher in sugar
  • choosing foods with fib​re
  • not drinking fluids with meals or snacks

Dumping syndrome can also prevent your body from properly absorbing nutrients you need. Your dietitian will tell you which foods are best to eat after having bariatric surgery and which foods to limit to help prevent dumping syndrome. Talk to your healthcare team if you develop any symptoms of dumping syndrome.​

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