How long will I be off of solid foods after surgery?

This varies by procedure and surgeon.  A liquid diet, followed by semi-solid foods or pureed foods, may be recommended for a period of time until adequate healing has occurred. Generally with the gastric band the progression is faster and with the bypass it’s the slowest. Your surgeon will provide you with specific dietary guidelines for the best post-surgical outcome.

Why drink so much water?

When you are losing weight, there are many waste products to eliminate, mostly in the urine. Some of these substances tend to form crystals, which can cause kidney stones. A high water intake protects you and helps your body to rid itself of waste products efficiently, promoting better weight loss. Water also fills your stomach and helps to prolong and intensify your sense of satisfaction with food. If you feel a desire to eat between meals, it may be because you did not drink enough water in the hour before.

What is dumping syndrome?

Eating sugars or other foods containing many small particles when you have an empty stomach can cause dumping syndrome in patients who have had a gastric bypass. Your body handles these small particles by diluting them with water, which reduces blood volume and causes a shock-like state. Sugar may also induce insulin shock due to the altered physiology of your intestinal tract. The result is a very unpleasant feeling: you break out in a cold clammy sweat, turn pale, feel "butterflies" in your stomach and have a pounding pulse. Cramps and diarrhea may follow. This state can last for 30 to 60 minutes and can be quite uncomfortable — you may have to lie down until it goes away. This syndrome can be avoided by not eating the foods that cause it, especially on an empty stomach. A small amount of sweets, such as fruit, can sometimes be well tolerated at the end of a meal.

Is there a problem with consuming milk products?

Milk contains lactose (milk sugar), which is not well digested. This sugar passes through undigested until bacteria in the lower bowel act on it, producing irritating byproducts as well as gas. Depending on individual tolerance, some persons find even the smallest amount of milk can cause cramps, gas and diarrhea.

Why can't I snack between meals?

Snacking, nibbling or grazing on foods, usually high-calorie and high-fat foods, can add hundreds of calories a day to your intake, defeating the restrictive effect of your operation. Snacking will slow down your weight loss and can lead to regain of weight.

How can I be sure I am eating enough protein?

60-80 grams a day are generally sufficient for most people but some patients may have higher dietary requirements. Check with your surgeon to determine the right amount for your type of surgery.

Will I be able to eat "spicy" foods or seasoned foods?

Most patients are able to enjoy spices after the initial 6 months following surgery.

Will I be allowed to drink alcohol?

You will find that even small amounts of alcohol will affect you quickly. It is suggested that you drink no alcohol for the first year. Thereafter, with your physician's approval, you should only partake of alcohol in moderation.

What vitamins will I need to take after surgery?

A daily multivitamin is recommended for the rest of your life.  Depending on the type of surgery you have, B12, calcium with vitamin D, iron and other trace elements may also be needed.

Do I meet with a nutritionist before and after surgery?

Yes. All insurance companies require supervised nutrition counseling prior to bariatric surgery. This time can vary from three months up to one year depending on your specific insurance plan. Following up with a dietitian after surgery can assist you to stay on track and encourage ongoing success.

Will I get a copy of suggested eating patterns and food choices after surgery?

Surgeons provide patients with materials that clearly outline their expectations regarding diet and compliance to guidelines for the best outcome based on your surgical procedure. After surgery, health and weight loss are highly dependent on patient compliance with these guidelines. You must do your part by restricting high-calorie foods, by avoiding sugar, snacks and fats and by strictly following the guidelines set by your surgeon.