The gastric bypass diet is specifically designed to help the stomach pouch heal after surgery. Following the surgeon's guidance, the diet progresses from liquids to pureed foods and from pureed foods back to a regular solid diet. However, even the regular diet after surgery will never reflect the diet prior to gastric bypass -- the new stomach is too small and is not intended to hold large amounts of food again.
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The gastric bypass surgery induces weight loss with two surgical changes to the digestive tract. The stomach is reduced in size and stapled into a small pouch. Food leaving the stomach is released into the small intestine for the remainder of digestion. After gastric bypass, this process is delayed by reducing the size of the opening between the small intestine and stomach, which makes the foods leave the stomach and digest slowly. It's important to avoid chewing gum or fibrous foods that could potentially block this smaller opening and cause an obstruction.
Two to three days post-op most patients are placed on a clear liquid diet, which means they can eat and drink only see-through liquids. Initially, the new stomach pouch can only hold about 2 tbsp. of fluid at one time. Measure each liquid carefully -- only 2 to 3 oz. of liquids like broth or apple juice are allowed per meal. The new gastric bypass patient may eat six of these "meals" a day, interspersed with sips of fluid to keep hydrated. After a few days, in the absence of any nausea or symptoms that the patient is not tolerating food, the doctor might advise that the diet progress to full liquids. Full liquids are still given in 2 to 3 oz. increments, but the patient can also have strained soups, gelatin and milk.
The surgeon makes the decision when to progress each patient to a soft or pureed diet. This phase lasts about 2 to 4 weeks after surgery and starts with food that is the consistency of baby food. A few ounces per meal may be all that is tolerated, although eventually, the stomach pouch will accommodate between 1/2 and 1 cup of food or liquid at a time. The patient should start each meal with proteins, such as finely ground fish or poultry, and then consume some pureed vegetables or fruits. The protein helps the suture lines heal and keeps the body strong. When the pureed diet is advanced to a soft diet, the patient can enjoy foods such as scrambled eggs, mashed vegetables and beans.
Regular Diet Considerations
The final and last phase of the gastric bypass diet progresses the patient to her life long diet. The reduced stomach, unless constantly stuffed and stretched, will never be able to hold more than 1 cup of food per meal. A typical gastric bypass patient's breakfast may include 1/4 of a banana, 1 scrambled egg and 1/2 slice of toast. When learning how to eat following surgery, it is most important that the patient learn how to recognize signs of fullness. A gastric bypass patient should stop eating when full and not force extra foods. Fibrous foods or carbonated beverages are limited, if not prohibited, due to their propensity to fill the dieter too quickly.