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Diet after gastric banding

You had laparoscopic gastric banding. This surgery made your stomach smaller by closing off part of your stomach with an adjustable band. After surgery you will eat less food, and you will not be able to eat quickly.

Your health care provider will teach you about foods you can eat and foods you should avoid. It is very important to follow these diet guidelines.

When You Go Home From the Hospital

You will eat only liquid or pureed food for 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery. You will slowly add in soft foods, and then regular foods.

When you start eating solid foods again, you will feel full more quickly. Just a few bites of solid food may fill you up. This is because your new stomach pouch holds only a tablespoonful of food at first, about the size of a walnut.

Your pouch may get larger over time. You do not want to stretch it out, so do not eat more than your provider advises. When your pouch is larger, it may not hold more than about 1 cup (250 milliliters) of chewed food.

You may lose weight over the first 3 to 6 months after surgery. During this time, you may have:

  • Body aches
  • Feel tired and cold
  • Dry skin
  • Mood changes
  • Hair loss or hair thinning

These symptoms are normal. They should go away as your body gets used to your weight loss.

A New Way of Eating

Remember to eat slowly and chew each bite very slowly and completely. Do not swallow food until it is smooth. The opening between your new stomach pouch and the large part of the stomach is small. Food that is not chewed well can block this opening.

  • Take 20 to 30 minutes to eat a meal. If you vomit or have pain under your breastbone during or after eating, you may be eating too fast.
  • Eat 6 small meals during the day instead of 3 bigger meals. Do not snack between meals.
  • Stop eating when you feel satisfied. Try not to eat until you feel full. You might have an uncomfortable feeling with just a little too much food.
  • Do not eat if you are not hungry.
  • Use small plates and utensils to help control portion sizes.

Some foods you eat may cause some pain or discomfort if you do not chew them completely. Some of these are pasta, rice, bread, raw vegetables, and meats, especially steak. It may be better to stay away from these types of foods, and you should get advice from your provider about this. Adding a low-fat sauce, such as a broth gravy, can make them easier to digest. Other foods that may cause discomfort are dry foods, such as popcorn and nuts, or fibrous foods, such as celery and corn.

You will need to drink up to 8 cups (64 ounces), or 2 liters, of water or other calorie-free liquids every day:

  • Do not drink anything for 30 minutes after a meal. Also, do not drink anything while you are eating. The liquid will fill you up, and this may keep you from eating enough healthy food. Or, it may lubricate the food and allow you to eat more than you should.
  • Take small sips when you are drinking. Do not gulp.
  • Ask your provider before using a straw, since it may bring air in your stomach.

Follow Your Diet Carefully

You will need to make sure you are getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals while you are losing weight. Eating mostly protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help your body get the nutrients it needs.

Protein may be the most important of these foods. Your body needs protein to build muscles and other body tissues. Low-fat protein choices include:

  • Skinless chicken
  • Lean beef or pork
  • Fish
  • Whole eggs or egg whites
  • Beans
  • Dairy products, which includes low-fat or nonfat hard cheeses, cottage cheese, milk, and yogurt

Combining foods with texture together with protein helps people who have a gastric band stay satisfied longer. This includes things like a salad with grilled chicken or toast with low-fat cottage cheese.

Because you are eating less, your body may not be getting enough of some important vitamins and minerals. Your provider may prescribe these supplements:

  • Multivitamin with iron
  • Vitamin B12
  • Calcium (1,200 mg per day) and vitamin D. Your body can absorb only about 500 mg of calcium at a time. Divide your calcium into 2 or 3 doses per day.

You will need to have regular checkups to keep track of your weight and to make sure you are eating well. These visits are a good time to talk about any problems you are having with your diet, or about other issues related to your surgery and recovery.

Calories Still Count

Read food labels to avoid high-calorie foods. It is important to get as many nutrients as you can without eating too many calories.

  • Do not eat foods that contain a lot of fats, sugar, or carbohydrates, particularly "slider" foods. These are foods that dissolve easily or pass quickly through the band.
  • Do not drink much alcohol. Alcohol contains a lot of calories, but it does not provide nutrition. Avoid it completely if you can.
  • Do not drink fluids that have a lot of calories. Avoid drinks that have sugar, fructose, or corn syrup in them.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, such as soda and sparkling water. Let soda go flat before drinking.

If you gain weight or your weight loss is slower than expected, ask yourself:

  • Am I eating too many high-calorie foods or drinks?
  • Am I eating too often?
  • Am I exercising enough?
  • Should I talk with my provider to see if the band should be adjusted?

Alternative Names

Gastric banding surgery - your diet; Obesity - diet after banding; Weight loss - diet after banding


Mechanick JI, Apovian C, Brethauer S, et al. Clinical practice guidelines for the perioperative nutritional, metabolic, and nonsurgical support of the bariatric surgery patient—2019 update: cosponsored by American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists/American College of Endocrinology, the Obesity Society, American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, Obesity Medicine Association, and American Society of Anesthesiologists. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2020;16(2):175-247. PMID: 31917200

Sullivan S, Edmundowicz SA, Morton JM. Surgical and endoscopic treatment of obesity. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 8.

Tavakkoli A, Cooney RN. Metabolic changes following bariatric surgery. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:797-801.

Review Date 7/20/2022

Updated by: John E. Meilahn, MD, Bariatric Surgery, Chestnut Hill Surgical Associates, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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