Gastric sleeve surgery has become the most common weight loss surgery, with over 150,000 procedures performed in 2021 alone. This surgery reduces the stomach size by over 80% by surgically removing a large portion of the stomach.
However, the success of this potentially life-altering surgery depends heavily on making significant and permanent changes to diet and nutrition. Meticulously following the preoperative and postoperative dietary protocols is critical.
This article will provide an overview of the unique dietary changes involved with gastric sleeve surgery. We will examine the various diet phases and key nutritional goals. With a focused look at optimal food choices after surgery, patients can set themselves up for sustainable weight loss and improved health.
Unlike gastric bypass or lap band, a gastric sleeve procedure removes a portion of the stomach. This restricts food intake significantly. Postoperative dietary choices for gastric sleeve patients differ from those of other surgeries. They must be meticulously planned.
Here's the statistics for bariatric surgeries performed over a ten year period:
Observations from the table:
In the weeks before surgery, adopting a liquid diet is critical. The main goals of this preoperative diet are:
Avoid foods and beverages that can lead to dehydration and complicate surgery. It's essential to restrict all alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.
In some cases, patients may eat soft foods like yogurt or mashed potatoes early in the preoperative diet before transitioning to all liquids.
Strictly following the prescribed preoperative diet will facilitate a quicker recovery. The liquid diet shrinks the liver, hydrates the body, and prepares the patient for the upcoming dramatic reduction in stomach capacity.
After undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure, your dietary regimen will shift through several stages, each carefully designed to facilitate healing and accustom your reduced stomach size to digesting food again. Unlike gastric bypass, the gastric sleeve leaves the digestive tract intact, which means fewer dietary restrictions in the long term. However, the initial postoperative diet is still quite rigorous.
After a gastric sleeve operation, the drastically reduced stomach size limits the quantity of food you can consume. Yet, your body still requires essential nutrients to heal and function optimally. This presents a unique set of nutritional challenges that patients must navigate.
Failure to meet these nutritional requirements can lead to complications like hair loss, fatigue, and even severe malnourishment. Therefore, consulting a registered dietitian for a tailored nutritional plan is often advised.
The objective is to find foods that are nutrient-dense but gentle on your reduced stomach capacity.
Why: Lean proteins are easier to digest and help in tissue repair and muscle building.
Examples: Chicken breast, turkey, fish like salmon and tuna, shellfish, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, tempeh.
Tips: Opt for grilling, baking, broiling, or poaching proteins instead of frying to keep the fat content low. Remove skin from poultry.
Why: While rich in nutrients, some fruits and veggies can cause gas and bloating.
Examples: Try cooked fruits like applesauce or canned peaches and softened veggies like well-cooked carrots, winter squash, peeled cucumbers, and canned green beans.
Caution: Introduce raw crunchy vegetables like celery or snap peas slowly in small quantities. Avoid cruciferous veggies early on.
Because the gastric sleeve involves actually removing part of the stomach rather than just constricting it, these particular recommendations take into account the unique digestive capabilities—and limitations—of this modified organ. Being aware of these food types to avoid is crucial in dodging complications and ensuring a smooth recovery. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized dietary guidelines.
Finding delicious and satisfying recipes that fit the postoperative diet can be challenging. Refer to resources like bariatric cookbooks or websites with gastric sleeve-friendly recipes for ideas.
The long-term success of gastric sleeve surgery depends heavily on making permanent lifestyle changes, especially to diet and nutrition. Patients must diligently adhere to the preoperative and postoperative diet protocols.
Although the diet stages are temporary, smart food choices like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods should become a lifelong habit. Proper hydration and vitamin supplementation are also essential.
Allison is a seasoned nutritionist and writer with over 15 years in health and weight management. She's authored journals on medical weight loss and bariatric medicine, and has specialized in bariatric foods.
Reviewed By: Dr. K. Huffman
Dr. Kevin D. Huffman, D.O., is a board-certified bariatric physician renowned for his expertise in treating obesity. With over 10,000 patients and a reputation as a national leader in bariatric medicine, he has trained hundreds of healthcare providers. Dr. Huffman develops protocols and training materials sought after by medical societies, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and hospitals.