It’s a common misconception about vegetarians, that they’re all small, fit, and in great shape. In some cases, people turn to a vegetarian diet for health reasons or to improve their quality of life. A plant-based menu is a great way to lead a healthier lifestyle, but for the obese or morbidly obese, it’s just one part of the program.

Diet, along with increased activity, and bariatric surgery, has been scientifically proven to lose excess weight and keep it off in the long term. In the first year alone after weight loss surgery, patients can lose up to 80 percent of their excess weight.

Post Op Diets for Vegetarians

With any diet, it’s important to still give your body all of the vitamins and minerals it needs to remain strong and healthy. Some may argue that a vegetarian diet deprives the body of needed protein and other essential nutrients. But everything the body needs can be acquired through supplements.

This is especially true for all bariatric patients, whether they’re omnivorous, vegetarian, or vegan. Gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and other surgeries like this have a strict all-liquid diet for two weeks after the procedure. This allows the body to adapt to smaller food intake and for the surgery to fully heal.

The liquid can be water, any non-carbonated, non-caffeinated, and sugar-free drink. Supplements, such as protein powder, will give the body all of the nutrients it needs during this time. Nutrient-dense protein shakes will provide the grams of protein you need as well as essential amino acids to give the body what it needs during the first two weeks post-surgery. In the coming weeks, protein can also be found in Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs, protein bars, and tofu.

It’s important to remember: do not gulp the liquid! After gastric sleeve surgery, the stomach can’t handle as much food as it once did, but that goes for liquid, too. Drinking too much of anything at one time could lead to nausea, vomiting, and/or upset stomach.

So sip when you drink and be sure to get at least 96 ounces of liquid every day to keep hydrated. By carrying a water bottle with you at all times, you can take sips throughout the day without causing any discomfort or pain.

In the following weeks and months, patients will slowly introduce soft, then solid foods. Greek yogurt, lean meats, and non-starchy vegetables, then more robust foods in a few months. With animal products out of the equation, the vegetarian’s diet just got simpler.

Produce To Avoid

Or maybe not. We do recommend that patients eliminate starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, corn, and winter squash) and fruit before surgery. Post-Op, and for the rest of your life, there are some foods that provide no nutritional value and may cause issues with the smaller stomach. Here’s a quick rundown of produce that should be avoided after a bariatric procedure:

High Carbohydrate Vegetables: Potatoes, peas, winter squash, corn, and sweet potatoes.
High Carbohydrate Fruits: Bananas, apples, cherries – essentially all fruits.
Canned Vegetables or Fruit: A lot of preservatives (sodium) and sugars are added to canned produce. Make sure to rinse off these products to remove the additives.

We Can Help

At WeightWise, we provide the surgery, the diet plan, and the exercise routine all in our bariatric center. With dietitians and exercise physiologists working alongside the surgeons, our program is designed to personalize plans for each of our patients. You won’t have to drive all over town to meet different appointments or receive conflicting information.

If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about the WeightWise program, make sure to watch our free online seminar. When you’re ready to schedule an appointment, we’ll be here for you. Today may be the day to start your journey to a healthier you.