The soft foods phase is the third stage of the bariatric diet progression. This phase typically starts 3-4 weeks after surgery. The goal is to reintroduce soft, easy to chew foods while avoiding tough textures that could irritate the post-op digestive tract.
|Duration||3-6 weeks after surgery|
|Purpose||Transition to regular foods with soft textures|
|Foods Allowed||Soft meats, eggs, legumes, cooked veggies, soft fruits|
|Foods to Avoid||Tough meats, raw veggies, hard fruits/veggies, bread, rice|
|Progression||Clear liquids, full liquids, pureed food, soft foods, solid foods, regular diet|
The soft foods phase marks your transition back to solid foods after several weeks of liquid and pureed textures. But these solids should still have a very soft, moist consistency that's easy to chew and swallow.
The staples of this phase are soft, minced, ground, mashed and cooked-to-mush meats, fruits and vegetables. Focus on fork-tender proteins, well-cooked veggies, and fruits that can be easily mashed with a fork. Avoid anything even slightly tough, crunchy, chewy or stringy.
Some examples of allowed soft proteins include fish, ground meats, soft scrambled eggs, soft tofu, beans, and cottage cheese. Soft fruits like ripe bananas, melon and peeled apples are good options. Well-cooked vegetables like carrots, spinach, zucchini, and potatoes are usually well tolerated.
You will likely still rely on bariatric protein shakes, yogurt and other full liquids to help meet your daily protein and nutrition needs in phase 3. But you can start working in soft foods to continue expanding your diet.
Here are some examples of foods commonly included in phase 3 of the post-op bariatric diet:
Avoid any food that is even slightly tough, crunchy, chewy, dry or stringy. Your stomach is still healing so be very selective with textures.
Since your pouch and digestion is still delicate after surgery, there are many foods that should still be avoided in the soft foods stage:
Read labels and avoid any foods with crunchy add-ins like crackers, croutons, nuts or seeds which can irritate your digestive tract.
Continuing vitamin and mineral supplements is so important during phase 3 to prevent nutritional deficiencies after bariatric surgery. It can be difficult to meet all your nutritional needs from food alone, even with the expanded variety of soft solid foods.
Key supplements often recommended include:
Work with your bariatric care team to determine the specific supplements and dosages you need based on your health status and deficiencies shown on bloodwork.
Be patient with yourself and don't rush the progression of textures. Let your body adjust at its own pace to set yourself up for long-term bariatric success.
Writer: Carrie H.
Carrie is a dedicated health and nutrition writer with a strong background in medical and scientific research. She is driven by a passion for helping others lead healthier lives, diving into the latest scientific research. Combining evidence-based knowledge with practical advice, Carrie strives to provide accurate and valuable information on health, nutrition, and wellness. Her ultimate aim is to empower readers, enabling them to make informed choices about their well-being.
Reviewed By: Dr. Kevin Huffman
Dr. Kevin D. Huffman, D.O., is a leading board-certified bariatric physician with extensive expertise in treating obesity. He has trained countless healthcare providers and founded American Bariatric Consultants to develop protocols and training materials sought by medical societies, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and hospitals. Dr. Huffman's impact extends beyond patient care as he prepares physicians for board certification, expanding access to this vital treatment.