FAQS About Weight Loss Surgery: The Food Edition

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There are quite naturally a lot of questions regarding bariatric surgery. We’ve covered a few frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Oregon Weight Loss Surgery blog.

There are some questions that haven’t been answered yet, however. And while we were putting this piece together, we noticed that a lot of people ask food-related questions regarding weight loss surgery.

We decided that the best solution was to write a separate blog that compiles all these frequently asked questions (FAQs) about food into one post.

Please check back regularly since we’ll be adding additional FAQs to this and other pages over time.

In the meantime, if you have any questions whatsoever about weight loss surgery, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help, and we look forward to speaking with you!

Frequently Asked Questions About Weight Loss Surgery and Food

Can you drink alcohol after bariatric surgery?

If you’ve been asking yourself, “How long after bariatric surgery can I drink alcohol?” then please read on.

For most patients, it’s safe to drink alcohol after bariatric surgery. But it’s recommended to abstain for at least one month after surgery, and then to add a little alcohol gradually and with some modifications.

In fact, depending on the surgery, you can safely consume most foods after surgery; you just won’t be able to eat as much of it! And, of course, adhering to a healthy diet and exercising regularly are the best ways — the only ways, actually — to keep the weight off successfully.

People lose weight and keep it off when they adhere to their bariatric surgeon’s recommendations for both diet and exercise. This is true regardless of the weight loss proceduresleeve gastrectomy, laparoscopic gastric banding surgery, or gastric bypass surgery.

As far as alcohol, specifically, though, there are some warnings that you should take seriously.

“Research shows that blood alcohol levels peak higher and faster and take longer to return to normal due to altered metabolism after gastric bypass surgery,” Penn Medicine reports.

They continue: “In addition, many post-surgical patients consume less food when they’re drinking alcohol, which contributes to expedited absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream. For many post-surgical patients, all it takes is a single drink to elevate blood alcohol levels to the point of legal intoxication. This is important to remember for maintaining a healthy diet and before getting behind the wheel.”

Follow Ups

Some studies recommend that clinics follow up with bariatric surgery patients in order to monitor and treat alcohol abuse. Those same studies showed that a percentage of bariatric surgery patients develop alcohol problems. Additionally, certain surgeries, such as the Orbera balloon, are not recommended for patients who have alcohol addictions.

As the Oregon Health & Science University reports, bariatric surgery patients “will be permanently more sensitive to alcohol after bariatric surgery. (They) will feel effects with fewer drinks.”

Experts recommend waiting at least six months after surgery before consuming alcohol. They also suggest limiting the intake of sugary mixers and carbonated beverages if and when you do start drinking again.

When can I eat after surgery?

Your doctor will determine your specific dietary guidelines, but all patients will be required to consume a liquid diet for two weeks after surgery. This will be followed by two weeks of food pureed from high protein sources, and then two weeks of soft solids. After six weeks, you can finally eat hard or crunchy foods again such as raw vegetable, salad or nuts, or dense meat such as chicken breast or pork.

Food needs to be consumed very slowly, we recommend taking tiny bites the size of a dime, chew each bite 20 times, and after swallowing a bite, wait a whole minute (by the clock) before taking another tiny bite.

It’s important to remember that post-bariatric surgery, you’ll need to let your stomach heal. Post-op diets consist of small portions of high-protein foods and plenty of fluids.

The Mayo Clinic has an excellent guide to what to eat after surgery here. Your doctor will advise you as to what is best for you as you recover from surgery.

Can you eat pork after surgery?

Pork is a good source of protein, so it can be part of a healthy post-bariatric surgery diet. Make sure the pork is cooked tender, however, and avoid eating pork chops (unless they are thin and juicy), since they tend to be tough to chew.

If you’re curious about what to eat after surgery to avoid nausea, then stick to the guidelines listed in the Mayo Clinic link above and your provider’s recommendations.

It’s also crucial to pace yourself after surgery. Remember to chew your food thoroughly and eat and drink slowly to avoid nausea and dumping syndrome. This will help you heal and feel better in both the short term and the long term. The sooner you heal, the sooner you can return to work, play, and your normal routine.

Contact OWLS for questions or concerns about what to eat post-surgery. If you have trouble with excess weight, sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes, or other weight-related ailments, there is probably a type of surgery that’s perfect for you. Talk to your insurance company about options.

And stay tuned for more FAQs on this and other subjects!

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