Nutrition Guidelines for Bariatric Surgery 

You have taken an important step to improve your health by choosing to have bariatric surgery.  This step will require long term changes in your eating behavior. You must learn and follow guidelines to promote successful outcomes and prevent post-surgery complications. The first step is to become aware of your eating habits.

Mindful Eating Habits  

Mindful eating is when you become more aware of your eating habits. After surgery your stomach size is much smaller than it was before surgery. The outlet that food passes through is only the size of a dime and your stomach may only hold an ounce of food or less. Specific recommendations need to be applied such as:

  • Listen to your body – Learn your hunger cues. Eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are satisfied, not when you feel full.  
  • Take your time when eating – Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and cut up food into small pieces, about the size of your thumbnail. Take note of the flavor, texture, and taste of every bite of food. Do not be rushed by others at the table.   Meal times should be about 30 minutes.
  • Weigh and measure foods – Limit meal sizes to approximately ½ cup. Use tools such as measuring cups, spoons, and food scales. Portion foods on smaller plates.
  • Eat your protein food first before any other food at meals and snacks – Make sure ½ of your meal consists of a protein source.  

Simple first steps toward mindful eating:

  • Eat with chopsticks.
  • Eat with your non-dominant hand.
  • Use baby forks, spoons, knives and smaller plates.
  • Take teaspoon-sized bites and chew your food to liquid consistency, “savor the flavor.”
  • Eat sitting down  at the dining room table without TV, newspaper, phone, radio, or computer.
  • Measure portions of food to put on your plate and try to make the meal last at least 30 minutes.  


After surgery, it is important to drink at least 64 ounces of fluid everyday. This amount will help to prevent fatigue and dehydration. Be sure that the fluid has no calories, caffeine, or carbonation.


  • Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink – that is already a sign of dehydration.
  • Drink water or other beverages in small, frequent sips throughout the day.
  • Your new pouch will fill with liquids quickly and empty slowly so you will have to sip liquids, not gulp.
  • Always carry a water bottle with you.
  • Use calorie-free ways to flavor water and add variety to your fluids.
  • Avoid drinking with straws – they can cause you to swallow air, which can lead to gas and discomfort and may stretch out your new pouch.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks for the same reason – bubbles from carbonation can lead to gas and discomfort and may potentially stretch out your new pouch.
  • Caffeine can cause dehydration. Staying hydrated after surgery is very important so caffeine should be avoided. Once you are meeting your fluid goal, you can have up to 16 ounces of caffeinated drinks daily.
  • Avoid liquid calories – beverages with calories from sugar and/or fat that have little nutritional value and can lead to “dumping syndrome” causing vomiting, bloating, cramping, sweating, and other unpleasant side effects. These beverages include regular soda, lemonade, juice, sweet coffee drinks, sweet tea, energy drinks, sports drinks, and alcohol including beer, wine and distilled spirits.

Ways to practice drinking more slowly:

  • Freeze water bottles overnight and sip them the next day while they are melting.
  • Set your cup down after each swallow.
  • Use children’s sippy cups.

Post-Surgery Change:

  • Avoid drinking fluids for 30 minutes before, during, and 30 minutes after all meals and snacks.
  • Your new pouch needs to be empty for protein intake at mealtime.
  • Drinking during or after a meal can cause you to overfill your pouch, leading to nausea, vomiting, or stretching of the pouch, as well as causing you to get hungry too soon after eating, preventing adequate weight loss. 

Appropriate fluid choices:

Crystal Light
Diet Ocean Spray
Decaf or herbal tea 
Vitamin Water Zero
Wyler's Light Drinks
Diet Snapple
Decaf coffee
Propel flavored water