Just as it is critical to follow a diet as directed by a patient’s surgeon and surgery center before surgery, adherence to a post-operative diet is equally important. The time immediately following surgery is a time for scar tissue to form around the band that has been placed. This healing process ensures correct positioning.
The band does limit the amount of food the stomach pouch can hold, but the patient is still in control of what kinds of foods are consumed. Eating improper food during the post-op period can cause damage. The stomach muscles during digestion squeeze and churn to break down food during the process. These actions place stress and pressure on the band and sutures placed during surgery.
Surgeons and surgical clinics commonly have specific eating guidelines for their patients, but general guidelines for post-op gastric banded patients include the following:
First Phase, Gastric Banding Surgery
- Patients typically begin consuming sips of water the day of surgery. Additional fluids are introduced the day following gastric banding. Once fluids are easily tolerated, patients progress to a puree diet. Pureed foods are foods that are easy to swallow. They are the consistency of pudding or moist mashed potatoes. Food should be eaten in 4 to 5 small meals each day. Many patients report a poor appetite immediately following gastric banding. It’s recommended to focus on protein-rich foods.
- The recommended size of each meal is 5 to 6 tablespoons at this stage of a post-op diet. It’s vital to eat slowly (30 to 40 minutes for each meal) by taking small mouthfuls of food. It’s also important to listen to the body and to stop eating as soon as a feeling of fullness registers. This sense of fullness will likely be felt more in the chest area than in the stomach area due to the gastric banding procedure.
- Drinking 6-8 8 ounce glasses of water daily is highly advisable. Dehydration is a major problem linked to bariatric surgery patients since the stomach is so much smaller. Drinking also has a tendency to push food through the stoma that is not healthy for patients that have undergone gastric banding. Eating and drinking should be done separately. Sip water whenever possible.
After the First Four Weeks
Many patients are ready for a solid diet at this phase of their recovery. Each will differ in the foods they can tolerate but the standards for healthy eating habits following a gastric banding procedure include:
- Eat three meals per day and avoid snacking between meals.
- Continue to eat slowly and stop as soon as you feel full. Eating too quickly with a band in place can result in a blockage, pain, or vomiting.
- Do not drink at meal times – Avoid fluids half an hour before meals and for one hour afterward.
- Continue to focus on protein-rich foods
Some foods can be problematic for patients of gastric banding at any phase of their recovery. Each patient is different but some foods that could cause potential problems such as stoma blockages include:
- Vegetables and fruits that contain stringy fibers
- Sticky foods like pasta, rice, peanut butter and bread
- Gum (Swallowing gum could lead to an obstruction that requires medical intervention)
- Meat needs to be chopped into very tiny pieces and chewed extremely well. Some providers advise avoiding steak for at least the first six months following surgery.
- Crunchy foods such as popcorn and nuts are high-risk foods that can contribute to blockages.
Multivitamins after a gastric band
Patients undergoing gastric banding will likely experience an altered ability to absorb nutrients. Many surgeons recommend a regimen of various supplements that may include:
- Multivitamin with 100% daily value, with at least 18 mg iron
- Calcium Citrate with Vitamin D
Six Rules of Dieting After Lap Band Surgery
- Protein is important; protein should be 55% of all your calories.
- Water should be consumed 64 to 80 ounces per day.
- Drinking liquids should be consumed at a different time from consuming food; avoid liquids for a period of 15-30 min before and 30-60 min after consuming foods.
- Eat only three times per day once you begin solid foods ( phase 4).
- Avoid foods that contain sugar; sugar will add calories to your diet and will slow your weight loss progress.
- Eat slowly will help you as the food enters your stomach. Eating slowly will help ensure that you don’t have nausea or vomit.
- Stop eating as soon as you begin to feel full, it normally takes 30 minutes for your brain to realize to you’re full.
- Once you are eating solid foods, do not take in liquid calories.
Guide to Gastric Banding (Lap-Band):