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What kind of diet should I follow after gastrointestinal surgery?

In the immediate days after gastrointestinal surgery your body will have a reduced ability to digest food. Because of this you are likely to be advised to follow a “light diet” for at least two days following surgery.

Suitable foods are those which are soft or low in fibre and can include:

  • soup
  • mousse, ice cream, or yoghurt
  • boiled rice
  • mashed potatoes
  • egg, fish or meat
  • sandwiches on white bread (not always suitable after surgery; you will be advised if you can eat bread)
  • root vegetables such as carrots or swede which have been properly cooked

You should avoid:

  • wholegrain bread
  • green vegetables
  • spicy foods
  • wheat or bran-based cereals
  • beans and pulses

What if I’ve had gastric bypass surgery?

If you’ve had gastric bypass surgery your diet will take much longer to return to normal:

  • For the first few days, you may need to follow a “liquid-only diet”, which can include broth, milk, soup, unswettened juice, tea or coffee
  • For the next week, you can start to have pureed food. You will still be unable to have solid pieces in your food, so make sure anything you eat is properly processed. A wide range of food can be processed easily, including ground meat, eggs, cooked vegetables, beans, and cheese.
  • For the next couple of months, you can have soft foods – ground meat, fruit where the skin and pips have been removed, and cooked vegetables.
  • Over the next, months, you will be able to slowly introduce harder foods such as nuts and seeds, tough meats, and green vegetables into your diet. You might be sensitive to spicy food for a long period afterwards.

During this time, you can make eating as comfortable as possible by:

  • drinking plenty of water
  • eating small mouthfuls and chewing thoroughly
  • taking time when eating, and eating small meals through the day