Stage 1 of Your Post Bariatric Surgery Diet: Clear Liquids

By Brian K. Davidson, Sarah Krieger

Initially, while you’re recovering from weight loss surgery in the hospital, you’re fed ice chips and possibly clear liquids. You may be a little nauseated, and the liquids minimize the risk of vomiting (which you definitely want to avoid at this point). Generally, you’re on clear liquids only a day or two.

What you can eat

Basically, clear liquids are just liquids you can see through. Water immediately comes to mind, but several other liquids qualify as well:

  • Thin, pulp-free juices that have been diluted 50/50 with water (orange juice and tomato juice are not allowed at this stage)
  • Clear beef, chicken, or vegetable broth (look for high-protein broth)
  • Clear sugar-free gelatin
  • Sugar-free ice pops
  • Decaf coffee and tea (even though you can’t see through coffee, it’s allowed)
  • Sugar-free, noncarbonated fruit drinks
  • Flavored sugar-free, noncarbonated waters
  • Clear liquid sugar-free supplements

Clear liquid tips

Clear liquids tend to be better tolerated either at room temperature or warm. Remember, sip, sip, sip! Try to drink 2 or 3 ounces every 30 minutes. Strive for 48 to 64 ounces of liquid each day.

Measuring liquids is easy if you ask your nurse to give you a cup with measurements marked. The hospital staff tracks how much you drink as well and will have measuring cups on hand. Take a cup home and use it until your diet is advanced. If you feel nauseated while drinking, stop and let a nurse know.

Sample menu for a clear-liquid diet

The following sample menu shows what you may consume in a day during Stage 1:

  • Breakfast
    • Apple juice diluted 50/50 with water
    • Chicken broth
    • Sugar-free gelatin
    • Decaf coffee
  • Snack
    • Clear liquid sugar-free supplement
  • Lunch
    • Beef broth
    • Sugar-free gelatin
    • Decaf tea
    • Sugar-free ice pop
  • Snack
    • Clear liquid sugar-free supplement
  • Dinner
    • Chicken broth
    • Sugar-free flavored water
    • Sugar-free ice pop
    • Sugar-free gelatin
  • Snack
    • Clear liquid sugar-free supplement

You won’t have much of an appetite after surgery, but don’t worry if a nurse brings you a tray with a lot of liquids on it. It’s just to give you some variety; you’re not meant to drink all of them. As long as you stay hydrated, just drink what you comfortably can.

In this stage, your focus is on staying hydrated. It may seem strange not to be receiving food, but you’ll only be in this stage a day or two. Your surgeon will let you know when to progress to the next stage.