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Dietary Adjustments After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) provides a tool for individuals struggling with weight management. It is reserved for individuals who are 100 pounds or more above their ideal weight and for those who are suffering the health consequences of obesity. Common procedures such as the gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy reduce the size of the stomach and change the way nutrients are digested and absorbed.
Changes In Food Portions
Portion sizes are much smaller after bariatric surgery than they are for the average person. Meal sizes may start out as ¼-½ cup and gradually increase over time to approximately one cup as a serving size. Meal portions above this may overfill the small stomach causing discomfort or even vomiting at times. Bariatric patients often eat from saucers rather than full plates to aid in keeping portions appropriate. Also, bariatric patients may need to order from a kid’s menu when eating out at restaurants.
Changes In Food Quality and Caloric Restriction
The emphasis after bariatric surgery is a high protein, low calorie diet with adequate hydration. Meals are based on protein foods with meats such as fish, turkey, chicken, and beef forming a big part of the diet. Protein shakes also serve as a rich source of proteins to supplement protein intake. Carbohydrate foods should only be consumed after having proteins first and should be limited in order to achieve satisfactory weight loss. Foods with simple sugars should be avoided as they tend to have high caloric content and can create side effects such as dumping syndrome.
Caloric intake is generally in the range of 1,200-1,500 calories per day with variations based on gender and activities.
Meats should be soft and tender to ensure that they are well tolerated. This means cooking techniques such as baking, broiling, grilling, and pouching. Fried food should be avoided. Foods that are dry, tough and hard to chew tend to be difficult to digest after bariatric surgery.
The typical meal should take approximately 30 minutes to eat. Chewing becomes very important so that foods are mushy and can be digested easily. Drinking while eating should be avoided because the stomach is often too small to accommodate both at the same time. Ideally, liquids should be delayed by 30 minutes.
Dietary adjustments are an important part of the lifestyle changes after bariatric surgery.