When it comes to gastric sleeve surgery, people always want to know two things first: how much will it cost, and what will I actually eat? We share all about the cost of surgery on our website, and in this blog post, we will share details about the gastric sleeve diet. 

The most important thing for you to know is that we are here for you every step along the way. 

Gastric sleeve diet: before surgery

We will help you make a plan for a special diet you will need to follow before surgery. This pre-op diet is geared toward reducing the amount of fat in and around your liver to reduce the risk of complications during surgery. 

Making changes in your diet before surgery will also help you start getting used to a new way of eating. This is a lifelong change, so the sooner you start, the better. Your new eating plan may begin as soon as you are cleared for the procedure.

Guidelines are individualized for each patient, but may include the following:

  • Eliminating or decreasing saturated fats, such as whole milk products, fatty meat, and fried food
  • Eliminating or decreasing foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as sugary desserts, pasta, potatoes, and bread
  • Eliminating high-sugar beverages, such as juice and sodas
  • Practicing portion control
  • Avoiding binge eating
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs
  • Not drinking beverages with meals
  • Taking a daily multivitamin
  • Taking protein supplements

With your pre-op diet, you will likely drink protein shakes and eat other high-protein, low-calorie foods that are easy to digest. As you get closer to your surgery date, you may need to follow a mostly-liquid or liquid-only diet. Based on your weight and overall health, you may be able to eat some solids during this time, such as fish, watered-down hot cereal, or soft-boiled eggs.

Gastric sleeve diet: after surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery drastically reduces the size of your stomach, leaving it a fraction of its original size. A smaller stomach means a stricter diet. In order to allow your stomach to heal and adjust properly, you will be required to follow a post-op diet plan that can be broken down into four stages. 

Stage one of the gastric sleeve diet: liquids

Stage one begins right after your surgery. During this time, you are restricted to clear liquids like water, broth, and unsweetened gelatin. This may sound like it will be challenging, but most patients experience little to no hunger the first few days after surgery.

Important things to remember for stage one of the post-op diet:

  • Avoid sugar – Do not consume any sugary liquids during the first week after surgery. Sugar can have negative side effects on the body and can lead to dumping syndrome, a digestive problem that can occur after bariatric surgery. Food is “dumped” directly from your stomach into your small intestine without being digested. We want to avoid this.
  • No carbonation – Carbonation can lead to gas and bloating and should be avoided.
  • Lots of fluids – It is important to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated during your recovery process. Just remember to take it slow and only drink small amounts at a time. 

 Stage two of the gastric sleeve diet: protein-rich liquids

We will confirm when you are able to move to stage two, which is usually around five days after surgery. During this stage, you will introduce more liquids into your diet and begin drinking high protein shakes. You may experience an increase in appetite, but it is important that you stick to your diet plan and avoid solid food. Your body will not be able to handle it yet. 

Stage two food options include: 

  • Thin broth and creamed soups (no chunks)
  • Sugar-free protein/nutrition shakes
  • Sugar-free nonfat yogurt or pudding
  • Thinned oatmeal

The goal of stage two is to make sure you are consuming the correct amount of protein and staying hydrated. You should try new foods at a slow pace and in accordance with your diet plan. Sugary liquids should still be avoided, along with carbonation, high fat options, and chunky foods. 

Stage three of the gastric sleeve diet: pureed soft foods

During this stage, your blender will become your best friend. Once you are around two weeks post- surgery, you can begin incorporating pureed soft foods into your diet. The key here is to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. You may find that your tolerance for certain foods has changed, so you should take your time testing new food options. 

At this stage, your food should be the consistency of a thick liquid or smooth paste. You should continue to avoid chunky or fatty foods, sugar, seasonings, starches, and fibrous vegetables like broccoli and asparagus.  

Stage three of the gastric sleeve diet includes pureeing the following food items with water, skim milk, broth, or sugar-free juice:

  • Cooked vegetables (steamed or boiled until soft)
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Lean ground meats
  • Soft fruits 
  • Cottage cheese
  • Plain yogurt

Remember to keep drinking liquids. It is easy to become dehydrated after gastric sleeve surgery because your body is no longer getting fluids from some of the foods you used to eat, so always stay on top of your liquid intake. 

Stage four of the gastric sleeve diet: solid foods 

You’ve made it to the final stage. With Dr. Long’s approval, you can begin the transition to eating soft, solid foods around four weeks after surgery. Make sure to test foods one at a time to determine what you can tolerate. 

Try to structure your meals with protein in mind. We recommend consuming around 60 grams of protein per day, which can be difficult if you fill up on other foods first. A daily protein shake, in addition to high protein foods like eggs and lean ground meat, will help you meet your recommended protein goals.

As you slowly start integrating solid foods into your diet, make sure to stick to healthy, easy-to-digest options. This includes things like chicken, fish, well-cooked vegetables, low-fat cheese, and fruit. 

Foods you should continue to avoid: 

  • Whole milk products 
  • Fried foods
  • Starchy items like pasta, white potatoes, and bread
  • Sugary drinks and snacks
  • Over-processed/packaged foods like potato chips 
  • Fibrous vegetables like celery, asparagus, and broccoli
  • Spicy or heavily seasoned foods

 Achieving long-term success after gastric sleeve surgery

Once you have successfully incorporated solid foods back into your diet, it is important to continue making conscious food choices. The amount of food you eat throughout the day will be limited, so what you eat and how you eat is vital to staying on track.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to eat long-term after gastric sleeve surgery:

  • Chew and eat slowly
  • Limit snacking throughout the day
  • Cut food into small pieces 
  • Stick to small portions
  • Do not overeat
  • Avoid trans fats and fried, processed, or fast foods
  • Try not to eat and drink at the same time

For more information about gastric sleeve surgery and the recovery and diet plan process, schedule a consultation with us

Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery is a caring group of professionals who specialize in all types of bariatric surgery, including gastric sleeve surgery. We are so proud of our pricing that we publish the costs right on the front page of our website! We work with our patients to make the process as simple as possible and determine the best payment options on a case-by-case basis. Visit us today at http://www.bmisurgery.com/ or give us a call to set up a consultation at 205-833-6907.