Stage 2 of Your Post Bariatric Surgery Diet: Full Liquids

By Brian K. Davidson, Sarah Krieger

Full liquids are foods that are liquid or semi-liquid at room temperature and you can’t see through. These foods should pour off a spoon (not just fall off in a lump). If you’re tolerating clear liquids, your surgeon may approve full liquids as soon as the second day after your weight loss surgery.

Eat slowly, listen to your body, and stop eating before you are full. Eating past this point may result in nausea and/or vomiting. Remember that it typically takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. The quicker you eat, the less opportunity it has to register in your brain that you’re satisfied.

How long you remain on full liquids varies among surgeons, but generally it’s one to three weeks. Remember to follow your surgeon’s and dietitian’s instructions.

What you can eat

Following are some foods you can eat when you’re in the full-liquid stage:

  • All liquids from the clear-liquid phase. Get half of your fluid intake from clear liquids.
  • Lowfat strained or puréed soups.
  • Cooked cereals that have been thinned and are a soupy consistency.
  • All juices (remember to dilute fruit juice 50/50 with water).
  • Skim or 1 percent milk; plain, lowfat soy milk; or buttermilk (or lactose-free milk if you’re lactose intolerant).
  • Sugar-free custards or puddings.
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate.
  • Protein shakes and powder with at least 10 grams of protein per 100 calories, fewer than 3 grams of fat per 100 calories, and fewer than 12 grams of carbohydrate per serving.
  • Light yogurt with no added sugar (no fruit on the bottom).

Full liquid tips

At this stage, reinstate mealtime. Even if you don’t consider full liquids real food, make mealtime special. Sit down at the table with your family, turn off the television, and really be mindful of what you’re eating.

Your pouch is able to tolerate about 2 ounces of full-liquid foods at each meal in this stage. Remember, this is 2 ounces by volume, not by weight! Little medicine cups work great to help you portion your meal. Take 20 to 30 minutes to finish your 2-ounce liquid meal. Keep in mind that you may need to consume a lot of small meals a day and constantly sip clear liquids between meals to get enough fluids (48 to 64 ounces a day).

Following are tips to help keep you healthy and feeling good in the full-liquid stage:

  • Eat (well, drink) slowly. Take about 30 minutes to finish your meal.
  • Liquids at room temperature or warm may be easier to tolerate.
  • Use a cup with measurements to track your intake, and don’t use straws.
  • Use a baby spoon and put it down between bites of food to help you eat slowly.
  • To fortify the protein content of full liquids, mix in a small amount of powdered nonfat milk or protein powder. You can even fortify milk with powdered nonfat milk. Mix 1⁄3 cup powdered skim milk into 8 ounces of nonfat milk before drinking or using in soups or pudding.
  • Prepare any puddings, soups, and so on with nonfat milk to maximize protein and minimize fat and calories.
  • Use only protein powder or shakes containing fewer than 3 grams of fat, fewer than 12 grams of carbohydrate, and at least 10 grams of protein per 100 calories.
  • Get in the habit now of keeping a food diary.
  • Take your multivitamin and any other supplements your surgeon or dietitian has recommended. Make this a lifelong habit.

Another habit to begin: protein supplements. As you consume fluids in between your meals, focus on meeting your protein needs. Your dietitian will help you establish a daily protein goal based on your specific needs.

Sample menu for a full-liquid diet

Your top priority right now is to stay hydrated. Make sure you get 48 to 64 ounces of fluid each day, 24 to 32 ounces of clear liquid and the remaining 24 to 32 ounces of full liquids. Your meals should not measure more than 2 ounces of food.

  • Breakfast
    • Cooked wheat cereal made with skim milk
    • Sugar-free light yogurt (no fruit on bottom)
  • Snack
    • Low-carb protein supplement
  • Lunch
    • Cream of tomato soup made with nonfat milk
    • Light yogurt with no added sugar (no fruit on bottom)
  • Snack
    • Low-carb protein supplement
  • Dinner
    • Strained cream of mushroom soup made with nonfat milk
    • Mashed potatoes thinned with nonfat milk
  • Snack
    • Low-carb protein supplement (if needed to meet protein needs)