Eating Healthy after Bariatric Surgery

Eating healthy after bariatric surgery is extremely important.  You definitely cannot go back to the same old bad nutritional habits and expect the weight loss surgery to be the magic fix to a lifetime of weight challenges.  After the procedure, as the saying goes:  “This is the first day of the rest of your life.”  From this day forward, how you think about and consume food has got to change-permanently.

Life as you have known it prior to the operation that rewired your digestive system is going to change drastically.  Gone are the days of snacking in front of the television or while reading a book. Instead, you will be up and moving to increase the health of your entire body.  Your weight loss and maintenance will not be solely dependent on a decreased caloric intake.  Ifyou want weight loss surgery to be successful, you are going to have to work at it, for the rest of your days.Thankfully, you will have help initially, in order to know how to take care of your body, and the new you that will be emerging.  Of course, among the first concerns is making sure you are eating healthy after bariatric surgery.  Basically, you will have to take baby steps and learn how to eat all over again.

Clear Liquids

Right after weight loss surgery, you will not be allowed to eat or drink anything.  You will receive hydration and nutrients through an IV.  Although it does sound like a plumbing problem, all of your new connections that limit food intake and caloric absorption will have to start healing.  The doctor will have to make sure you have not sprung a leak somewhere.

Once you have been given the green light to let some nutrient pass between your lips, you will still be limited to clear liquids.  Since you can literally see through these beverages, they indicate how easy it will be on your newly fashioned and fragile digestive system.


When the doctor feels you are ready for the next adventure in eating, you will be allowed to drink other liquids like skim milk or other nutritious beverages.  How long you are on each stage of the healthy bariatric diet depends on how well your body heals and accepts the changes.  So, do not compare yourself to someone else who might have undergone the procedure.


Next, you will advance to pureed foods.  In fact, your dietary needs will appear to be already chewed to the enth degree.  However, the food will have a little bit more substance.  You may be surprised to discover you will feel full after only a tablespoon or two.

Soft Foods

Although you will not be able to eat just any soft food, if it is included on the bariatric diet, and a toothless baby could safely eat it, you are probably good to go. However, your choices will now be based on nutritional content.  With limited room for food consumption, you will have to be taught how to make every calorie count.


Despite taking weeks to achieve this goal, you will eventually be given the go ahead to return to solid foods.  However, we are not talking about a sit down meal with all of your favorites- a bite of this, a bite of that, and a smidgeon of dessert on the side. Once you graduate to solids, you will have strict guidelines that govern how you eat, as well as how much you eat.

For example, forget drinking a beverage with you meal.  At most, your stomach cannot accept more than a cup and a half of nutrition at one sitting.  You do not want to waste that space with liquid.  Instead, you will lead off with your protein food. In addition, you will have to thoroughly chew each mouthful.  The process serves 2 purposes.  You will linger over your meal longer and feel full, and you will be helping your new digestive system out immensely.


Since many bariatric procedures alter your digestive track, so you do not absorb all of the fat and calories you take in, it is extremely important to take a daily supplement.  You need to make sure your body receives all of the nutrients necessary to stay healthy and provide the needed energy.

In short, eating healthy after bariatric surgery is vital, if you really want the procedure to help you lose weight and regain your health.  In fact, trying to go back to your old eating habits will probably make you sick or cause major complications down the road.  So, you really need to be sure you are prepared for the lifestyle changes and sacrifices you will have to make, in order to become healthy and stay that way. But, you can do it, if you are really committed.

Weight Loss Surgery Criteria

Imagine going into a doctor’s office and arbitrarily asking to have your appendix removed.  You do not need it for survival.  You might develop appendicitis in the future, and it will need removed anyway.  If you want to get rid of it, and are willing to pay, why not?  No offense.  But, the physician might think you are nuts and call for a straight jacket.  The same can be said for a bariatric procedure for getting rid of those extra pounds.  You must meet weight loss surgery criteria.

What are the bariatric weight loss criteria?  Will you qualify?  Unfortunately, only your doctor can answer that question.

Although the National Institute of Health has 3 basic considerations, every doctor has the option to add his/her own requirements.

For example:

•    What is your Body Mass Index?
•    Are all other Alternatives Exhausted?
•    Do you Understand the Risks?
•    Are you Mobile?
•    What about your Age?

Finding a bariatric surgeon to take on your case can be a challenge.  With such a risky procedure, many doctors do not feel comfortable performing the operation, if too many negative variables could result in a bad outcome. Not only will they be putting your health on the line, but their career is a consideration as well.  But, if the surgeon is not comfortable taking your case, you want to look elsewhere anyway.  You simply need to find someone with the experience to feel confident that he/she can provide you with the best health care possible.

What is Body Mass Index?

If you are already into health and fitness or body building, you probably know all about BMI.  However, if you are struggling with a weight problem and not accustomed to exercise, you may be scratching your head in total confusion.

Essentially, your BMI is simply a mathematical formula to determine whether you are at a healthy weight, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  Understand, it is not judgmental in any way.  The same equation can be used for anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, or personal habits.  It does not determine whether you are a good or bad person.

In fact, you can find out your own personal body mass index.  But, you might be surprised at the final result.  Many individuals can already tell they are overweight.  But, it can be a shock to discover that obese is the proper descriptive term. For instance, you do not have to have a double chin or be constantly out of breath to be considered obese.

So, if you still want to find out, here are 3 simple math steps to come up with the answer.  For the sake of example only, the equation is based upon an individual who is 5 feet tall and weighing 170 pounds.

Step 1:  Multiply your height in inches by your height in inches.

60 inches x 60 inches = 3600

Step 2:  Divide your weight by the answer found in the first step.

170 / 3600 = .0472

Step 3:  Now, multiply that second answer by 703.

.0472 x 703 = 33 BMI

So, what is your number?  If your body mass index is over 25, you are considered overweight.  If your number is over 30, you are technically obese.  If your number is 40-50, you are considered morbidly obese, and may be a good candidate for weight loss surgery.  For those who have a number over 50, a bariatric surgeon may feel the procedure is too risky.

No other Alternatives

If you are to the point of seriously considering bariatric surgery, you have probably been on countless diets and weight loss programs.  Nothing seems to have worked and you are desperate.  But, you doctor will go through your health history.  He/she will want to make sure this procedure is truly the last resort.

Knowing the Risks

If you are already morbidly obese, you probably have health issues that would make any type of surgery riskier than for a patient without a weight problem.  Have you really considered the inherent risks?  Your very life is on the line.  What if something goes wrong?  Has the doctor talked to you about what can go wrong?  Are you so desperate to lose weight that it outweighs the chances you are taking?  You need to understand all the risks and benefits.


Although it is not a criterion for all bariatric surgeons, your doctor may deny you surgery, if you are not able to walk.  While that may seem like the main reason why weight loss surgery is so important, it also means you are at increased risk for blood clots and other complications that can be life-threatening.  If you are more likely to die from related problems, you may need to find a doctor with more experience and a greater comfort zone.


Unfortunately, some doctors will not even consider bariatric surgery if you are over 60.  They feel that the inherent risks far exceed the potential health benefits of surgery. Also, the older you are, the harder it is to recover from such a drastic procedure.

Now, you know the weight loss surgery criteria your doctor will be considering when he/she reviews your case.  You must meet the first 3 criterion before any doctor can realistically consider you for such a drastic procedure.  But, understand that every physician has his/her own comfort level and thus have further requirements.  You will simply need to find the doctor that is comfortable handling you case, if weight loss surgery is in your future.

The 5 Ways for Weight Loss Surgery

You are clinically obese.  After trying everything to lose those extra pounds and get healthy, you and your doctor have decided that bariatric surgery is your best chance of reaching a healthy weight.  But, contrary to what others might believe, you know it is not the easy way out.  Life, as you know it, is about to change drastically.  You need all the help and encouragement you can get.

So, to help you start your new life in the best way possible, here are 5 ways you can prepare for weight loss surgery:

•    Watch what you Eat
•    Exercises
•    Breathing Exercises
•    When you Come Home
•    Your New Life

If you will do your best to concentrate on these 5 issues prior to bariatric surgery, you will be better prepared, both mentally and physically, for the risks and benefits of the procedure.

Your Last Meal

Naturally, it is human nature to feel like you are never going to be able to enjoy eating and your favorite food ever again, after weight loss surgery.  So, you will probably be tempted to indulge in all of your favorite foods and snacks prior to surgery.

Some people make the mistake of bingeing on all their favorite foods days or weeks before the operation.  Do not go there!  You will only be putting your health at risk. Weight loss surgery is serious business.  If you gain weight prior to bariatric surgery it will only be potential breathing problems or additional stress on the heart.  It is not worth taking chances.

After you have healed and resumed eating solid foods, you will probably find that you can still have a bite or two of your favorite foods.  After the surgery, it may be enough to satisfy any craving.


Although your weight may be a deterrent to exercise, simply start moving.  After bariatric surgery, exercise is going to be an important element to your new lifestyle.  Do not wait.  Start today.  Anything you can do to improve your health prior to weight loss surgery, the better you will do after the procedure.  You do not have to do anything special, just get moving.

Breathing and Coughing

Breathing well and coughing exercises after weight loss surgery are very important.  It will help prevent problems with the lungs post-op.  You do not have to wait until after the surgery; you can start practicing today.  Breathe deeply enough to make your stomach move up and down.  Exercise your lungs and increase your oxygen intake.

Then, practice the coughing exercises that will keep your lungs clear after the operation.  You do not want complications of pneumonia or something equally devastating.  By the way, if you smoke, quit. Successfully surviving bariatric surgery and becoming a healthier person will far outweigh 2-3 weeks of cold turkey misery associated with smoking cessation.


To help facilitate an easier homecoming after surgery, do what you can to make life a little easier before you go to the hospital.  Make sure the house is clean, the bills are paid, and any other chores that you normally would do in the next few weeks.  You will need to concentrate on getting well.  The less you have to worry about, the more you can concentrate on healing.

You may also want to acquire a few pieces of furniture to make you more comfortable during your recovery from weight loss surgery.  For example, you might want to get a hospital bed to keep on the ground floor, so you do not have to climb stairs, or lay flat once you get to your bed.

A recliner is also a good idea.  If it hurts to sleep in your bed, you might find the recliner more comfortable during your recuperation.  When it comes to personal hygiene, a shower chair is also a great idea.  You do not want to risk a fall in the bath.  You will probably not feel like standing under the shower. So, the chair will provide comfort and safety.

Finally, do not forget some entertainment.  You will not be going back to work right away.  In fact, you will be spending a lot of time simply resting and taking care of yourself, while you heal.  Have some sedentary activities handy.  For example, if you like to read, you might want to have magazines, shorts stories, and other materials handy for when you come home from the hospital.

Get Excited!

You are allowed to get excited about your surgery.  You are about to embark on a whole new way to approach life.  Think about all the things you cannot do now, because you weigh too much.  You probably weigh too much to play with the kids, go for walks, participate in sports, or wear the clothes you would enjoy.

You are beginning a journey to a new and healthier you!  Yes, it will be hard work.  But, it will be worth it!  You are doing the right thing.  You have much to look forward to in the future.

So, now you know how you can help by preparing for weight loss surgery. You do not have to sit idly by and wait for the appointed day.  You have already made the decision to permanently change your life for the better.  You can start today.