A four-stage diet plan follows gastric bypass surgery. This allows your body time to heal and adjust to the change in your system. By stage IV, you have already been on clear fluids, high-protein liquids and soft foods and now are ready for some solids. According to Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology's GICare website, stage IV starts around eight weeks after surgery. It is up to your doctor to tell you when to change foods at each level. In stage IV, you begin down the road to regular foods, balanced nutrition and small portions.
Bypass surgery changes your digestive tract by reducing the size of your stomach. The University of Virginia Health Systems explains that an average stomach can hold up to 6 cups of fluid. Gastric bypass takes the normal stomach and creates a pouch to hold food. The stomach pouch can only handle up to 1/2 cup of fluid. If you try to force more in, you will damage the surgical line. Split your day up into three to six small meals. This will protect the new stomach pouch and keep you full.
At stage IV you can introduce solid foods back into the diet. GICare recommends you start with high-protein selections, such as lean meats. Stay away from fats, sugars and carbohydrates. Some foods will be difficult to digest, such as rice and pastas. You should plan meals that include proteins, vegetables and whole grains to avoid stomach upset. One sample breakfast might include 1/4 medium banana, one scrambled egg and a slice of toast. Dinner should be approximately 2 oz. of lean meat, 1/2 cup vegetables and a small roll or piece of bread. Let your dietitian or doctor help plan your first few weeks of meals to get you on the stage IV track.
Drink up to eight glasses of water daily, but do not drink around meal time. The National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus service warns you should not drink fluids at least 60 minutes before or after you eat. Your stomach is only capable of holding so much. Fluids and food at the same time may cause problems with the pouch. Water is the best choice for fluids, but any no-calorie drink will suffice. Do not drink liquids with carbonation or that contain sugar, fructose or corn syrup.
Your post surgical body may have difficulties digesting sugar. Excess sugar can lead to a condition known as dumping syndrome. This means the solid food passes too quickly from the stomach to the intestines. Sugary foods can trigger dumping. Systems include nausea, cramping, diarrhea, sweating and fast heart rate. Call your doctor if you experience any discomfort or develop systems of dumping syndrome.
Develop Good Habits
Now that you are back on solid foods, it is time to develop good eating habits. Take each meal slowly. Eating should take at least 30 minutes. Chew your food thoroughly. This will help slow down eating and improve digestion. Set regular times for meals to get in the habit of eating on a schedule. Write out meal plans each week. Create a list of necessary foods from those plans. This way you can avoid the urge to impulse shop at the grocery store and stick to your diet.