A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EATING AND DRINKING AFTER YOU’VE HAD A GASTRIC BAND
The gastric band is an effective way of losing weight, however, the band is only going to work properly and help one lose weight if one follows a healthy diet. In essence, the diet needs to be low fat, low calorie and portion controlled. What will be written over the course of these next few paragraphs will serve as a basic guide on what to expect after the first few weeks of having the surgery and then how to maintain an appropriate diet (what foods can be eaten and what foods should be avoided).
Immediately after having the surgery and for the first 4 weeks following the operation no solid foods should be taken. Instead a liquid diet should be followed for 2 weeks followed by a soft moist diet for another 2 weeks, after which one can slowly start to add solid food back into the diet. The importance of why one should not eat solid food is because solid food “can create pressure on your stitches and stretch your new stomach pouch. This may lead to vomiting and discomfort”.
Thus, we can see that there are 3 basic steps to the diet following surgery:
- Liquid diet for 2 weeks
- Soft moist diet for 2 weeks
- Start to introduce solid food and aim to follow a “protein rich, low calorie healthy diet
NB: “it is natural to expect some change in the frequency of your bowel habits; this is because the quantity of food you are now eating is considerably smaller than before the operation”. If one is concerned about bowel habits, some foods that may help include: whole-wheat breakfast cereals, fruit and vegetables, pulses (lentils and kidney beans)
Weeks 1 and 2 – The Liquid Diet
It is important for the purposes of the intake of protein and calcium that the liquid diet be based on milk (ideally low fat). One should aim for at least 2 pints of milk or a milk alternative a day.
What other fluids are allowed?
- Slimming drinks
- Yoghurt drinks and smoothies
- Still mineral water
- Smooth soups
- Tea and coffee without sugar
- Unsweetened pure fruit juice
NB: stop drinking as soon as you feel full
Weeks 3 and 4 – The Soft-Moist Diet
Now one can start introducing foods with a soft moist texture. “Foods should be broken into pieces or mashed with a fork”. At the beginning you may only be able manage a few mouthfuls, but this will increase gradually. Stick to small portions and eat from a side plate.
Suitable foods include:
- Minced meat
- Fish in white sauce
- Mashed potato
- Soft omelette
- Tender meat casseroles
- Carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, swede
- Mashed banana
- Low calorie yoghurt
- Low calorie mousse
- Low calorie custard
Week 5 onwards – The Protein Rich, low calorie diet
From this point onwards it becomes appropriate to start experimenting with different textured solid foods. Food will still need to be tender and chewed well (aim to chew at least 20 times per mouthful).
It is important to eat 3 meals a day with suitable small snacks in between, even if you do not feel hungry.
Due to the difference in portion sizes, it can become difficult to ensure that you have the right protein intake; a lack of protein can lead you to feeling weak. Some food protein sources include: dairy, egg, meat, fish, protein shakes, pulses.
SOURCE: North London Obesity Surgery Service (NLOSS)