How to Eat After a Gastric Sleeve

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Gastric sleeve surgery, also called a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, is an option available to people who want to lose a large amount of weight. The procedure involves the removal of as much as 85 percent of the stomach, limiting the amount of food that you can eat at each meal. While the surgery helps to limit your intake, you must also follow your doctor’s instructions about your diet, nutrition and eating behavior. Poor eating habits after gastric sleeve surgery can slow weight loss and, in some cases, lead to regaining whatever weight you may have lost during the early months after the procedure.

Add New Foods Slowly

Your body needs about 3 months to heal, so after surgery you will begin by drinking small amounts of water and gradually progress to solid foods. For the first 1 to 2 days, you will likely be permitted clear liquids such as broth or tea. Over the next about 4 weeks, you will slowly add blended or pureed foods such as protein shakes, thinned mashed potatoes and sugar-free yogurt. After that stage, you will add semisolid foods and, finally, low-fat solid foods. At each stage, you should try 1 food at a time to make sure you can tolerate it before moving on to another. Follow your doctor's instructions exactly, as time frames and allowed foods may vary.

Choose High-Quality Foods

Your stomach will be about the size of an egg or a banana, depending on how much of it was removed during surgery. Your body, however, will need at least 60 grams of protein a day, according to the authors of an article published in the March-April 2013 issue of "Endocrine Practice." Therefore, each meal should include low-fat, protein-rich foods such as yogurt, meat, fish, protein shakes or beans. By the time you reach the solid food stage, you should be able to eat healthy foods from all food groups, including 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Skip the Empty Calories

Even though your stomach is much smaller after surgery, it is still possible to take in too many calories if you choose the wrong foods. A low-fat, low-sugar, high-protein meal will fill you up and provide fuel for your daily activities. Pretzels, potato chips, hot dogs, ice cream, cookies, alcoholic beverages and sugary sodas will fill you up, too, but they will leave you short on protein and other nutrients.

Modify Your Eating Behaviors

Gastric sleeve surgery helps you feel full after eating just a small amount of food, but it cannot make you stop eating at that point. Your job is to learn how to exchange your old habits for new ones. Instead of eating until you are stuffed, for example, you must pay attention to how you feel after each bite and stop as soon as you feel satisfied. Eating at a table, taking small bites, chewing thoroughly and making your meal last for at least 30 minutes can help you develop this new habit. Some people find it is helpful to use a salad plate and smaller utensils for meals and to turn off the television while eating.