By Brian K. Davidson, Sarah Krieger

By understanding a little about nutrition and applying what you know, you will feel healthier, look better, and have more energy after your successful weight loss surgery.

Getting what you need in smaller portions

A typical meal in a bariatric surgery diet includes protein-rich foods such as lean meat, eggs, and lowfat dairy products as well as starches and whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Eating protein helps you feel fuller longer. You’ll be able to eat a variety of foods — in smaller portions, of course.

Since you are only eating small portions of food, choosing foods that are healthy is very important. Nutrient-rich foods deliver the most nutrition for the least amount of calories. To find nutrient-rich foods you need to check out the food labels to find out what a portion of the food is and how many calories and which nutrients are in a portion.

Drinking enough water at the right time

Water is important because it flushes toxins from your liver and kidneys, regulates body temperature, and reduces the risk of many cancers. It also helps with digestion, lubricates your joints, allows you to use glycogen in your muscles, which provides you with energy, and helps eliminate hunger by taking up space in your pouch.

Prior to surgery you received a great deal of water from the foods you ate. After surgery you don’t have the same capacity to eat, which is why many post-op patients are prone to dehydration.

You need to ensure you’re drinking enough water. However, you also need to avoid eating and drinking at the same time because your new pouch is too small to allow both liquid and solid foods.

Checking out eating guidelines

After you make the transition to solid foods, follow these dietary guidelines:

  • Plan your meals.
  • Eat three meals a day.
  • Start each meal with a protein source.
  • Chew, chew, chew each bite.
  • Don’t overeat — stop before you feel full.
  • Drink between each meal, not with your meals.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV, in the car, or while you’re reading.
  • Keep healthy foods available and get tempting unhealthy foods out of the house.
  • If you’re going to a party, offer to bring a healthy food item to ensure you’ll have something there you can eat.
  • Pay attention to the taste of your food.
  • Try not to eat late in the day.
  • Use a food diary to keep track of what and when you eat and how you feel.

Finding out what foods your new pouch will tolerate after surgery is a matter of trial and error. Dumping syndrome, a common condition for gastric bypass surgery patients, occurs after you eat foods that are high in sugar, fat, or sometimes dairy, or high-calorie liquids. It can cause nausea, diarrhea, light headedness, cold sweats, abdominal cramping, weakness, and a fast heartbeat. Many people who experience dumping find it good incentive to avoid the foods that triggered the reaction for a while.

Keeping a food diary

A food diary is a useful tool not only when you’re losing weight but also when you’re trying to maintain your weight. A diary helps you be aware of what you’re eating and whether you’re veering from your healthy eating plan. Diaries can also help you to increase your awareness of why you’re eating. If you write down any emotions you feel when you think you’re hungry, you may discover that the feeling is something else — maybe thirst, fatigue, or stress.