Nutritional Considerations After Bariatric Surgery Video

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  • 0:01 Bariatric Surgery
  • 1:17 Procedure
  • 1:50 Diet Changes
  • 3:25 Nutritional Considerations
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Bariatric surgery can be an effective path to long-term weight loss. However, the surgery changes the way nutrients are digested and absorbed. Learn how you will need to change your eating habits and nutrient intake after bariatric surgery in this lesson.

Bariatric Surgery

There are many factors that cause us to gain weight, including genetics and our environment. The genes we inherit from our parents can make us more prone to weight gain, as can the modern-world environment where high-calorie processed and fast foods are readily available. The problem with weight gain is that when the body gains too much, a person's risk of serious diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, goes up.

The solution is to lose weight; however, weight loss is a difficult challenge. For some individuals, adherence to a healthy diet and exercise regime is a sufficient solution. But when these methods are tried without success some people turn to bariatric surgery, which is a surgical procedure that makes changes to your digestive tract to encourage weight loss.

Because the digestive tract's job is to break down the foods you eat and extract their nutrients, it's easy to see that bariatric surgery could alter the way your digestion works. In this lesson, we will discuss digestion and absorption changes after bariatric surgery, and how your nutrition intake needs to be adjusted after the procedure is performed.


There are different types of bariatric surgery, but most work by reducing the size of the stomach so it cannot hold as much food. The surgery may bypass or band off a portion of the stomach. The reduced stomach is then routed to the small intestine, which can result in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine, being altered. The duodenum is the part of the small intestine where much of the digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place. The smaller size of the stomach and the altered digestion of nutrients will require you to change your diet.

Diet Changes

Your diet will change as your body adapts to the surgery. Immediately after surgery, your diet will be designed to help your stomach heal. During this early stage, your diet will be restricted to a clear liquid diet, such as broth and unsweetened juice. These liquids will need to be consumed slowly, taking in only two to three ounces at a time.

Once your body can tolerate the liquid diet, you can progress to pureed foods. This requires mashing up or blending solid foods, including protein-containing foods, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, cottage cheese and beans. Proteins help your body heal after surgery, but need to be eaten in a smooth consistency to not overwork your healing digestive tract.

After a few weeks, your health care team will clear you for the next stage of your diet, which allows you to add soft foods. These include finely chopped fruits, vegetables and meats. After about two months, you should be able to tolerate solid foods; however, it's important to continue to chop up your foods and chew them thoroughly to aid digestion.

When you clear these diet hurdles, you should be able to move into a new healthy diet. Your new diet will allow you to add back some favorite foods; however, some foods may not be tolerated. For example, your body might have trouble tolerating foods that are spicy or that are high in fat, sugar or fiber.

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