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 doctor, nurse, or dietitian 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 puréed food for 2 - 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 very quickly. Just a few bites of solid food will 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 doctor, nurse, or dietitian advises. When your pouch is larger, it will not hold more than about 1 cup of chewed food. A normal stomach can hold up to 4 cups of chewed food.

You may lose weight quickly in the first 3 - 6 months after surgery. During this time, you may have body aches, feel tired and cold, have dry skin, mood changes, and 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 very small. Food that is not chewed well can block this opening.

  • Take only 20 - 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.
  • Do not eat if you are not hungry.

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, meats. Adding a low-fat sauce or 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) 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.
  • Your doctor may tell you not to use a straw, since it will bring air in your stomach. Ask if this is the case.

Follow Your Diet Carefully

You will need to make sure you are getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals while you are losing weight quickly. 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, and dairy products. These include low-fat or nonfat hard cheeses, cottage cheese, milk and yogurt.
  • Combining foods with texture together with protein helps band patients stay satisfied longer. This would include things like salad with grilled chicken, or celery with peanut butter.

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

  • Multivitamin with iron
  • Vitamin B 12
  • 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 during the day.

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

Calories Still Count

Avoid high-calorie foods. It is important to get as many nutrients as you can without eating too many calories. See also: How to read food labels

  • 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?


Mechanick JI, Kushner RF, Sugerman HJ, Gonzalez-Campoy JM, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists; Obesity Society; American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The Obesity Society, and American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery medical guidelines for clinical practice for the perioperative nutritional, metabolic, and nonsurgical support of the bariatric surgery patient. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Apr;17 Suppl 1:S1-70.

Update Date: 1/6/2011

Updated by: Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


Notice: The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2012, A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.