The vertical sleeve gastrectomy diet is a four or five-phase plan that helps you recover after your surgeon has reduced your stomach size. You start by drinking clear liquids and slowly work your way back to eating healthy, solid foods. Your regime will include a protein drink for about a month.

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy aids weight loss by reducing your stomach to 15 percent of its normal size. You’ll feel satiated sooner after eating and eat less, which enables you to lose weight. Your post-surgery stomach will be banana-sized, so you’ll need to eat smaller meals more frequently after the operation.

Your doctor will recommend a healthy and very specific diet for you to follow post-surgery. This diet helps your body adjust to its new stomach size and speeds recovery.

What is Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy?

a surgical procedure in which a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to view the organs in the abdomen or to permit a surgical procedure.

Patients are under general anesthesia when surgery is performed. The surgeon puts a tiny camera, called a laparoscope, in your belly to see inside your stomach. This procedure is referred to as a laparoscopy. It usually takes an hour to 90 minutes.

The surgeon makes two to five small incisions in your belly. The doctor then puts the scope and other instruments needed through the incision. The laparoscope is connected to a monitor in the operating room, which lets the doctor view inside your stomach while operating.

A harmless gas called is pumped into your stomach to expand it and make it easier for the surgeon to work.

The surgeon removes most of your stomach and surgically staples the remaining parts together. Your stomach is now a long, vertical tube that resembles a banana. Your sphincter muscles, which let food come in and out of the stomach, are left intact.

Your surgeon then takes out the scope and other instruments. The operation ends after the surgeon stitches the incisions.

This bariatric weight loss surgery is commonly performed on people with a low body mass index (BMI). It reduces the chance of intestinal blockage and ulcers, and removes the section of your stomach that causes hunger.

There are risks associated with this type of weight loss surgery. They include:

  • ​Leaking of stomach acid if staples don’t stay in place
  • ​Infected Wound
  • Blood clots
  • A second procedure may be needed if you have a high BMI
  • The procedure is irreversible

You may experience vomiting, diarrhea and a side effect known as dumping syndrome. Dumping syndrome occurs when sugar or other food moves through your stomach quickly and enters your small bowels.

It usually happens within ten minutes to half an hour after eating and is caused by eating sugary or processed foods. Prevent dumping syndrome by eating healthy foods after surgery and maintaining a healthy diet indefinitely.

Eat slowly and chew your food completely to avoid side effects after vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

Changing Your Diet after Surgery

The diet phases after your surgery are designed to teach you to eat better and make the most of your bariatric weight loss surgery. Following your doctor’s diet guidelines will prevent side effects and help you to lose weight.

Phase One

a lady holds glass of water and attempt to drink it.

For a week after your operation, you should consume clear liquids and stay well-hydrated. Drinking lots of filtered water will increase healing and help you avoid nausea and vomiting. Subsisting on clear liquids for a week may sound tough, but most patients aren’t hungry at all following surgery.

Immediately after your operation, avoid fruit juice, tea, coffee, all soda (even diet soda), and all carbonated drinks. Drink eight glasses of water daily. Your diet for the first week following surgery should include Jello, broth, sugarless Popsicles, and decaffeinated tea or coffee.

Phase Two

creamy butterly squash soup with parsley on top

During the second phase of your post-surgery diet, you will move on to a liquid diet that has more protein. Most people start feeling hungry again a week to a week and a half after surgery. A sugarless protein powder should be introduced to your diet. Your doctor will recommend the right brand and amount for you.

Although you can introduce new foods during this time, avoid whole-milk yogurt and other high-fat foods, and any food with “chunky” pieces, like vegetable soup, even though the food may contain nutrients. You will also avoid processed or sugary foods.

Continue to drink lots of water, and eat more protein (20 grams a day). The sugar-free protein powder you use can be mixed with water or a low-fat liquid. Only consume a half cup of liquid at every meal.

You can introduce many new foods to your diet during phase two of the vertical sleeve gastrectomy diet. These foods include creamed soups and other thin soups, sugarless pudding, ice cream or sorbet, soup with soft noodles, sugarless plain yogurt or ice cream and watered down low-sugar applesauce.

By the third week, add thicker or pureed food to your diet. Continue to stay away from high-fat foods and sugar. Add scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, thin oatmeal, soft, canned tuna, Greek yogurt, baby food, low or no-sugar smoothies, and pureed whitefish to what you’ve already been eating.

Consume 60 to 80 grams of protein per day, including your protein drink. Scrambled eggs, whitefish, tuna, and Greek yogurt are high in protein. Eat protein-rich foods at the beginning of each meal to feel fuller sooner. Drink no more than a half-cup of liquids with each meal, and eat several small meals a day.

Phase Three

toasted bread with sliced avocado and hard boiled egg sesoned with pepper and salt and nuts on top

Continue to eat foods from phases one and two and introduce more nutritious foods to your diet during phase three (around the third week) of the post-surgery diet.

Eat 60 to 80 grams of protein daily and drink lots of water. Eat pureed foods, but don’t consume white pasta, rice, bread, oils, butter, sugar, fruit seeds and skins, sugar and tough, chewy vegetables.

You can eat more high-protein foods as long as they are relatively soft. A few options are low-fat cheese and deli meat, eggs prepared any way (poached and hard-boiled are okay), soft vegetables and soup with chunks (as long as the veggies/meats are soft).

Continue to drink your daily protein shake. If your doctor allows you to drink caffeinated coffee, don’t consume more than two sugar-free cups a day.

Phase Four

salmon  in ginger soy sauce  with spring onion and sesame seed on top

About a month after surgery, you can transition to solid foods. It is important to avoid excessively sugary or salty foods, alcohol, and processed foods, to maintain good health and lose weight.

You’ll still need to get 60 to 80 grams of protein a day, including the protein in your powdered protein drink. Stay well-hydrated, but stop drinking liquids a half-hour before each meal. Eat three small meals daily and two small snacks, such as cheese or soft fruit.

Your doctor may recommend a bariatric multivitamin to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. You are now free to eat any healthy food you want. Eat the foods mentioned for phase three, including fish, vegetables, lean meat and low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese.

Try to get your calories from solid foods, not liquids, during phase four. You’ll won’t feel as full and receive less nutritional value if you get your calories from liquids.

Here’s a list of processed foods to avoid during phase four and beyond to stay slim and healthy.

  • ​White grain and refined flour bread
  • ​High sugar snacks and desserts
  • Fried chicken and other fried foods
  • Processed, packaged foods
  • Cooking oil
  • Soda (including diet soda)
  • Fast food and junk food (salty chips, etc.)

Phase Five or Post Recovery Diet

whole grain pasta with sliced sausage, veggie and cheese on top

After you’ve transitioned to solid foods, make an appointment with your doctor to assess your progress. Eat food with different textures and vary your diet. Continue to chew slowly and thoroughly.

Many of the habits you learned during the first four phases need to become a part of your daily life if you want to maintain your weight. Bariatric surgery is a tool to help you stay at your best weight. It’s not a magic cure that absolves you of doing your part to stay healthy.

Eat five servings or more of fruits and vegetables a day, and two servings or more of complex carbohydrates (legumes, whole-grain pasta or rice, starchy vegetables, etc.). Don’t eat and drink at the same time. You don’t have to continue drinking a protein shake unless your recommends it, or you can’t consume enough protein for solid food.

Keep a food diary to monitor your nutritional progress. Eat three small meals and two snacks per day. Exercise daily, even if you can only take a short walk outdoors. Your health care provider will recommend an exercise regime that’s right for you.

Recommended Vitamins and Supplements

vitamins and supplements into white plastic bottle

After you've completed the first four phases of your post-operative recovery, you can add some or all of the following vitamins/supplements to your daily routine per your doctor.

Take vitamins and supplements in addition to, not instead of, nutritious food. Get most of your vitamins and minerals from foods and beverages.

All patients can benefit from taking a multivitamin with folic acid, iron, and Vitamin B1 (thiamine) once daily.  Vitamin B12 is also important, especially for older adults. Take a sublingual vitamin containing 500mcg of Vitamin B12 daily. This type of vitamin melts under the tongue and is and is absorbed into the bloodstream faster than oral vitamins.

You can also have your doctor give you a monthly injection of 1,000 mcg of Vitamin B12. Vitamin injections are absorbed into the bloodstream even faster than sublingual vitamins.

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