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The Bariatric Diet Menu

The Bariatric Diet Menu

Your bariatric diet menu requires consistent liquid and protein intake for your body to heal and expect from surgery.  The bariatric diet menu relies on your participation and dedication before and after surgery for your weight loss success.  Bariatric surgery is a major surgery that requires weeks and months of adequate nutrition for your stomach to heal and digest food.   There is a specific process you must follow to ensure you receive your diet.

After bariatric surgery, many health risks come from not following the required dietary guidelines.  Common negative health consequences include dehydration, malnutrition, constipation, and dumping syndrome.  To avoid these uncomfortable and dangerous health side effects, you must follow a specific diet plan required by your bariatrician and dietician.  Both doctors have particular eating guidelines. You must follow to ensure your bariatric surgery is a success.

Before Surgery Requirements

For a successful bariatric surgery, there are many health changes you need to make before your surgery.  Many surgeons recommend a pre-surgery diet two weeks before your surgery.  This diet includes beginning protein supplements through powders or shakes.  This is the quickest way to get your daily grams of protein.

The bariatric pre-surgery diet is high in protein.  You will eat between 70 to 120 grams of protein a day.  Your new diet will drastically reduce your caloric intake to between 800 to 1200 calories a day.  These pre-surgery diet requirements are vital for you to have a successful surgery and prepare your mind and body for a successful lifestyle change after surgery.

Many bariatric patients struggle with the necessary lifestyle changes but preparing yourself with enough time before surgery promotes a better weight loss and sustained weight loss.  You will have a higher chance of receiving the necessary weight loss results you want.

You will also need to decrease your entire fat intake, which includes fatty meats, fried foods, and whole milk products.  The overall goal before surgery is to reduce as much fat in your abdomen and around your liver as possible to minimize surgical complications.

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You will also need to reduce your sugary food intake, including sugary drinks, sweets, and soda.  You need to reduce your carbohydrate intake, which means less white bread and pasta.

By cutting out all of these unnecessary sugary and fatty foods, you are preserving your muscle tissue, which will be your primary energy source as your body burns fat before surgery.

You need to omit from your lifestyle to stop smoking, drinking alcohol, binge eating, and using particular over the counter medication.

These medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen.

Correcting all risky and unhealthy lifestyle habits will improve your chances of a successful surgery and healthy life after surgery.  By improving your health choices, you will grow accustomed to a reduced-calorie lifestyle, which is necessary for a successful weight loss.

There are four levels of your diet you will progress through after surgery.

Stage 1 Liquid Diet:

Your first two weeks of your liquid diet are the most challenging and important.

You will only be allowed a few ounces of clear liquid at a time.  This limited quantity helps your stomach heal without being stretched out by the food.

After your clear liquid stage is finished, which takes approximately two weeks, you will move to any type of liquid.

The liquids you will drink are:

  • Water, fat-free broth, fat-free broth, sugar-free jello
  • Decaf tea or coffee, strained cream soup, unsweetened soup
Water is your best friend after bariatric surgery, learn how to incorporate it as much as possible.

Stage 2 Pureed Diet:

The second stage of your diet consists of pureed food: the consistency of a smooth paste or thick liquid.  You will have a high protein diet and drink 64 oz of water a day.  You will eat many small meals a day to substitute for your lack of three larger meals.  You still have a limited stomach capacity.  Here is a list of foods you can prepare and avoid:

  • Protein shakes and egg whites
  • Nonfat soft cheese, nonfat cottage cheese
  • Soft fruits and cooked vegetables
  • Puree or blend your foods with water, skim milk, broth or juice without any added sugar
  • No caffeinated drinks
  • Meat: pureed skinless chicken, turkey, fish, mashed kidney beans
  • Liquids:  Sip throughout the day but not during your meals.
  • Drink at least 6-8 oz cups of fluid a day
  • Non-carbonated/sugar-free/fat-free drinks only

Most of the foods in your pureed diet are low in sugar and fat.  These foods can be eaten as long as you put them in a blend, and the final consistency is similar to baby food.  Your priority is to maintain your nutrition levels through adequate protein and low sugar foods.

Learn to expand your essential blending skills.

Stage 3 Soft Foods:

This stage of your bariatric diet lasts anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months after surgery, depending on how your stomach is healing and tolerating food.  By the soft food stage, you can eat anything that is a mashed consistency.

You cannot eat anything. Your stomach is still healing, and some foods you cannot tolerate yet. Your food goals should remain on protein and slowly introduce more fruits and vegetables.

Some foods you can prepare and avoid are:

  • Meats: canned chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna packed in water, soft cooked fish
  • Vegetables: no corn, asparagus, celery, soft cooked carrots, green beans or zucchini


  • soft banana, unsweetened applesauce
  • Avoid fruits in syrup or added sugar
Salmon provides a healthy dose of required daily protein intake.

Stage 4 Solid Foods:

At this stage in your bariatric diet menu, you can integrate firmer foods into your daily diet after soft foods are tolerable.  You can chop or dice your food to see how your body responds.  The goal is to add one new food per day to know how your stomach reacts.  Many bariatric patients struggle with dairy products or spicy foods.  Here is a list of foods you should avoid:

  • Refined sugar
  • High carbohydrate foods
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Fried Foods
  • Carbonated Beverages

Your Food Plan after Bariatric Surgery

All of these necessary diet modifications are required for your health after surgery.  Having a reduced-calorie, high protein, and low fat, low carbohydrate diet prepares your mind and body for the new way you need to eat.

At each stage of the initial bariatric diet after surgery, you should be mindful of a few things.  Make sure you are eating and drinking slowly and keeping your meals small.  Your meals should focus on high amounts of protein and avoiding high fat and sugary content.

Another vital post-surgery bariatric plan is never to drink with your meals.  To properly digest your food, you need to wait at least 30 minutes to have any liquid.  It will take time to adjust, but by cultivating new habits, you will become accustomed to your new routine.

Regular exercise improves your mood while maintaining a healthy weight loss.

My Bariatric Diet Experience

I was fortunate that throughout my pre and post-bariatric surgery diet, I did not have any adverse reactions to adding or eliminating foods from my diet.  I could lose 70 pounds before my surgery by changing my diet to include more protein and implementing cardio-based exercises.  I luckily did not have any surgical complications, and my surgery was completed within three hours.

After surgery, I was on a strict clear liquid diet for two weeks.  I had no appetite and little energy.

My goal was to maintain my clear liquid intake and not be hospitalized for dehydration.  I graduated to an all-liquid diet, a nice change for my palette, and I had no adverse reactions.

The most significant transition was at the four-week mark. I was able to eat pureed food.

This was a nice change of pace, with welcoming different flavors back in my diet.  I then progressed to soft food and eventually solid food by three months.

I followed my diet guidelines obsessively to allow my stomach to heal.

I never had any adverse reactions to food as I moved from each stage.  I recommend following your bariatrician and dieticians’ recommended food guidelines because they understand what is best for your overall health.

Regardless if you think you can handle more food or do not believe the process is working, you need to trust in your procedure.  Trust that your body will lose weight in a safe way that is controlled and monitored.

Some bariatric patients lose weight quickly within the first six months, and others lose more slowly.  I lost most of my weight within the first nine months.

I have maintained my current weight for the last ten months. Depending on your perspective, you can be harder because you have more food options, which increases your opportunity to overeat and emotionally eat.  Sticking to your food and exercise routine is essential in maintaining a healthy weight.

For the most part, your food choices are a mental game, and learning how to be disciplined with your food choices takes practice, and with your bariatric diet menu, you should have many well-cultivated habits.  The temptation does not go away, but you will be more comfortable, saying no.

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Kelsey Renae Schulze


Kelsey is a post-op bariatric patient who had sleeve surgery in 2018. She is a writer, focusing on a variety of topics given her background in legal studies and criminal justice.