bariatric diet phase 3 soft foods guide

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.

Key Details About Soft Foods Phase 3:

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
Sample Menu
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs
  • Lunch: Tuna salad
  • Dinner: Shredded chicken and mashed potatoes
Progression Clear liquids, full liquids, pureed food, soft foods, solid foods, regular diet

Introducing Soft Foods Into Your Bariatric 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.

Allowed Foods in the Phase 3 Soft Diet

approved foods during bariatric phase 3 soft foods diet

Here are some examples of foods commonly included in phase 3 of the post-op bariatric diet:

  • Soft, moist proteins - Ground meat, canned tuna, salmon, eggs, bean puree, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, soft tofu
  • Well-cooked fruits and vegetables - Cooked carrots, spinach, zucchini, squash, peas, potatoes with no skin, soft ripe banana, melon cubes, applesauce
  • Breads and grains - Moist bread without crusts, couscous, quinoa, oats, white rice
  • Dairy products - Low-fat milk, plain Greek yogurt, sugar-free pudding, low-fat cheese cubes

Avoid any food that is even slightly tough, crunchy, chewy, dry or stringy. Your stomach is still healing so be very selective with textures.

bariatric soft food cheesy pasta

Avoiding Difficult Foods in the Bariatric Soft Foods Diet

solid foods to avoid during bariatric phase 3

Since your pouch and digestion is still delicate after surgery, there are many foods that should still be avoided in the soft foods stage:

  • Tough meats - Steak, pork chops, chicken drumsticks, sausages, hot dogs
  • Raw vegetables - Broccoli, cauliflower, salad, salsa, coleslaw, corn
  • Hard fruits and veggies - Apples, pears, citrus fruits, celery
  • Fibrous breads and grains - Bagels, English muffins, granola, bran cereals, brown rice
  • Crunchy and dry foods - Crackers, chips, pretzels, nuts, seeds, popcorn
  • Sticky foods - Peanut butter, jams, honey, dried fruits
  • Skins & Seeds - Skins and seeds from fruits

Read labels and avoid any foods with crunchy add-ins like crackers, croutons, nuts or seeds which can irritate your digestive tract.

Supplements Needed During the Soft Foods Phase

One a Day Bariatric Multivitamins

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.

Shop Here for Bariatric Vitamins

Tips for Bariatric Phase 3 Success

tips for bariatric diet phase 3 soft foods
  • Chew foods thoroughly - Soft foods still require lots of chewing to break down before swallowing. Take small bites and chew each one 20-30 times.
  • Eat slowly and mindfully - Go slowly to allow your reduced stomach time to feel full and tell your brain when it's time to stop eating. Pace yourself and avoid mindless eating.
  • Avoid gulping or washing down foods - Sip small amounts of fluid in between bites instead of using liquids to force food down.
  • Limit sugar and fat - Focus on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  • Stay hydrated - Drink 64 oz of calorie-free fluids daily to prevent dehydration. Proper hydration prevents dehydration and helps you feel satisfied between meals.
  • Continue protein supplements - Meal replacement protein shakes help meet daily protein goals as you reintroduce more solid bariatric foods.
  • Introduce new foods slowly - Only add 1 new food every 2-3 days to check for tolerance.

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.