Stage V: Returning to Normal Food
Once you’ve completed each restricted phase of your post-surgery diet, you’ll be able to return to a relatively normal diet. While you can re-incorporate many foods that were off-limits in the first few weeks after surgery, there are some guidelines and restrictions you’ll need to adhere to.
Meal Size and Frequency
Now that the amount of food your stomach can hold is restricted, you’ll be required to eat several small meals throughout the day. Specifically, this amounts to three to five 1- to 2-ounce meals per day. It’s important not to skip meals—the three- to five-meal requirement is there to make sure your body gets what it needs in order to function properly.
Continue to avoid drinking during meals, as fluids can fill you up before your body gets the food it needs; like you did in the earlier phases of your diet, wait 15 to 30 minutes before a meal and half an hour to an hour after a meal to drink any liquid.
Foods to Focus On
At this point, you can start introducing certain foods back into your diet. Generally, you can eat most things that can be chewed thoroughly and that don’t cause you stomach discomfort or irritation.
It’s important to include a variety of foods into your post-surgery diet. Make sure you’re getting plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and include one good source of protein in every meal. To make sure you get enough protein, try taking in two cups of low-fat milk or yogurt and a protein supplement containing about 20 grams of protein every day.
In order to identify which foods, if any, cause you stomach trouble, always try only one new food at a time; otherwise, it will be difficult to narrow down the “offender.” If you find that your stomach is often irritated after you eat, notify your doctor.
Foods to Avoid
This is where “relatively normal” comes in. High-calorie, low-nutrient items like candy, desserts, and fried foods should still be avoided at this stage of your diet. Beverages that contain calories should also be avoided, as they can fill you up and prevent you from taking in important nutrients. The exception to this rule is fruit juice—you’re still allowed to have 4 to 8 ounces per day, if you so desire. Like in the earlier stages of your diet, the juice you drink should have no added sugar and should not be consumed with meals.