The Food Plan: Before, During, and After Surgery

I promise each and every one of you that I won’t talk about surgery in every blog post from now on. I know it seems that way lately, but I’ve just made a huge decision and attention must be paid. However, there are still many topics to keep tabs on – including the bag boy from hell and the road trip that will follow up the DFW Penis Expedition…so stay tuned.

Last time I posted, I promised to write in more detail about the food plan that I’ll be required to follow. Before I do, though, I’d like to give you a little peek back in time – because even though I’ve never had weight loss surgery before, I have about a dozen friends who have…and a lot has changed since the first of them went under the knife.

About 11 years ago, someone very close to me had gastric bypass surgery. She was required to attend a certain number of support group sessions and spend time with a psychiatrist before it was approved by her insurance – but something that most doctors require now was not required then and I find it very interesting (and strangely comforting) that the procedures have progressed.

On the night before my friend’s surgery 11 years ago, we went out for dinner. A big blow out dinner. Think of it as a fatty’s last farewell to all her food vices. We had appetizers, we had food…and more food…and then dessert. And then we went to the movies and had popcorn and other crap. We really outdid ourselves. As long as she didn’t eat after midnight (like the movie Gremlins), she was fine.

That shit’s not allowed today – at least not by any reputable surgeon I can find.


First of all, I have a list of dietary changes I’m instructed to make immediately:

1. Eat protein first at each and every meal.

2. Eat slower. Take 20 – 30 minutes per meal. Practice chewing 20 – 30 times each bite. (This is to prepare me for my small stomach so that I don’t have a rude awakening and make myself throw up).

3. Eat more frequently (every 3 – 4 hours). Big meals are over. Time to spread it out throughout the day.

4. Never skip breakfast. Drink a protein shake if I can’t stand food in the morning.

5. Stop drinking liquids with meals. Don’t drink 30 minutes before or after my meals. (This is to get me in the habit now before surgery comes and makes me throw up if I try it.)

6. Stop drinking sugary drinks. (I don’t drink any, so…done!)

7. Take vitamins and minerals every day. (I already take some, so this is already a habit…I’ll just be taking more after surgery.)

8. NO carbonated beverages. (Done! I quit Diet Dr Pepper two years ago.)

9. Limit sugars. (Well…crap. This one is going to be hard, but I’ve already been working on it – so at least it’s not as bad as it was before.)

That’s my list of things to do right now. Talk about hitting the ground running, right?

Once I pass the psych evaluation next Friday (shut up, I can do it!), my paperwork will be submitted to my insurance company. It takes 3 – 14 days to be approved. Once that’s done, they’ll schedule my pre-op tests and schedule me for surgery…and I’ll have a date.

veggies - blog

Two weeks before surgery, I’m required to be on a 1,200 calorie high protein/low carb diet. Here are the facts on that:

The lower calorie diet starts to shrink my liver, which is likely fatty from living as an obese person. It’s important to shrink my liver so that it’s not cumbersome to hold up and out of the way as my surgeon is operating on my stomach. A heavier liver makes a more complicated, longer surgery. Research has shown that patients who don’t follow this procedure and have a fatty liver on surgery day are in the operating room about 20 minutes longer than other patients, thereby increasing the risks.

Following a low calorie diet will also get me accustomed to better portion sizes – but let’s face it: I’m pretty good at that. When I’m “being good” I’m a fucking champ. I think that mental adjustment has been made and I’m very comfortable with it. I just need to be stopped from the “occasional splurge” that gets out of control.

Following a low calorie plan will help me get in the habit of developing shopping lists and planning/preparing my food ahead of time. Got it. Pretty good at this too, although HMH needs to get better at cleaning up his messes in the kitchen after channeling Bobby Flay. When I have no room to cook, it makes me a grumpy girl. And no one likes a grumpy Hot Mess Princess.

So that’s their reasoning behind the 1,200 calorie a day pre-surgery diet. Now comes the interesting part…

One week before surgery, I’m on a high protein full liquid diet. Lord Jesus, give me strength. That includes:

3 – 4 high protein meal replacement shakes (like EAS Carb Advantage or Muscle Milk Light)

At least 64 ounces of water a day


Sugar Free Jello

Tea and Coffee (without sugar or creamer)

That’s it. Those are my meal choices for a whole week.

One of my co-workers is joking that she’s going to take vacation time that week. This is the week that will be the hardest for me, truthfully. (Except perhaps surgery day…that’ll be top notch in the stress department).

I’ll have my original stomach and a severely reduced calorie diet. I’m expecting a few tears, but ultimately I know it’ll be okay.

What am I doing to prepare for this?

* I’m reading the forums at vertical sleeve, for one. Reading other people’s experiences at different stages of this process is helping me to know what’s ahead…and what to prepare for.

* I’m buying sugar free gum by the truck loads. It’ll give me something to chew on and help me feel less deprived.

* HMH has agreed not to over do it on the food smells in the house during that week. And no Food Network shows whatsoever.

* I’m creating a list of all the absolutely amazing and thrilling things I’ll be able to do on the other side of surgery that I can’t do now. Things like…

Rollerblading, bike riding, and dancing

Fitting into an airplane seat or a seat at the ballpark without gouging my legs or being uncomfortable

Riding a rollercoaster

Buy new clothes

Get a pedicure without straining for an hour to keep my knees pushed together

See the 200’s on the scale again…and then the 100’s

Have boinky boinks with the hubby without feeling like I want to die of embarrassment. (STILL with the lights off. C’mon…let’s not get cray cray!)

You’re welcome for that last one, by the way. You’ll probably need a bottle of bleach and a wire brush to scrub it out of your brain.

I plan to keep that list with me at all times and post it on my desk at work…in the kitchen at home…and in the bedroom. And on all the tissue boxes within a 2 mile radius. I need to be able to refer to that list to comfort myself with visualizations of the life I’m striving for.

believe maybe

The day before surgery it gets super fun: clear liquids only.

Crystal Light, coffee, tea, sugar free apple juice or white grape/cranberry


Gatorade, Powerade, or Zero Vitamin Water

That’s pretty much it. And NOTHING with red or purple food coloring in it. Know why? Because it looks like blood during surgery and we don’t need to freak the nice surgeon out, do we? No…we don’t.

Clear liquids at the hospital as well.

No ibuprofen allowed for four weeks after surgery. The 7 Dwarfs of the Menstrual Apocalypse are gonna screw me royally. (Although if I’m lucky, I’ll have some nice pain pills left over from surgery!)

Week 1 post-op diet:

Water, Crystal Light, Dilluted sugar free juice, G2 Gatorade, Powerade Zero, Zero Vitamin Water, unsweetened coffee or tea


Sugar free Jello, Sugar free popsicles

2 – 3 clear liquid protein drinks such as Isopure and Nectar Fruit flavor protein powders

Week 2 post-op diet:

Full liquids. Drinkable or pourable consistency. No chunks, seeds, skins, etc.

Meal replacement shakes

Nonfat or 1% milk

Cream or broth based soups without any chunks or meat (I find all soup disgusting, by the way.)

Sugar free pudding or yogurt

Sugar free clear liquids

Blended & strained oatmeal or cream of wheat

Smoothies from recipes they’ve provided in the patient handbook

Weeks 3 & 4:

Soft diet

Grilled/baked fish. Finely chopped ground beef. Thinly sliced chicken or turkey lunch meat. Tuna, chicken, or egg salad (made with light mayo or light miracle whip).

Refried beans with mozzarella cheese melted in

Cottage cheese

Canned fruit (drained)

Well cooked and non-gassy veggies


Small amounts of potatoes without skin

Well cooked whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta

Avoid: spicy foods, skins of tough fruits and veggies, any raw fruit or veggies

Week 5 and after: 

Regular diet

Regular foods as tolerated. Think: Slow, Small, Moist, and Easy. No, that’s not a porn movie for dwarfs.

So that’s the nitty gritty of what I have to look forward to in November. If I have my way, I’ll have the surgery mid to late November, so I’ll be spending my birthday…and my 10th wedding anniversary…and Thanksgiving…in the middle of this. It’s really okay, though. I feel good about it. I feel strong about it…and I have lots of support.

If there’s anything I haven’t covered that you’d like to know about, please hit me up. You know I’m perfectly willing to post my shit all over the internet. What’s on your mind?


CytoSport Muscle Milk Light, Ready-to-Drink Shake, Chocolate, 14 Ounce, (Pack of 12)

6 thoughts on “The Food Plan: Before, During, and After Surgery

  1. Earlier I commented about gastric surgery and how in court I had seen the failures due to the people not changing their head and or their approach to food. I still don’t know exactly how I feel about these procedures, but I do believe that you are working on your head as well as your body. My co-worker has talked about nothing for the past year except how she is going to be skinny after her surgery. I have seen no real positive changes in her lifestyle and while she admits she ate because she couldn’t deal with her mother’s death, she still hasn’t dealt with her mother’s death. Told me she would say whatever the shrink wanted her to say just to get approved for the surgery. So, you can see why I have skepticism written all over me. I am impressed with the real in-depth research you have done and that your approach seems more about being healthy than just skinny. I will follow your journey as I truly want you to be successful at whatever route you take on this journey that we are all traveling together.

    1. Melanie, I totally get that. I watched several girlfriends go through the procedure with that same mindset and they’ve gained it all back.

      I know there’s going to be backlash from my psyche about this. How can there not be? I have to plan for what I can plan for…and be as prepared as possible for the rest. In fact (shocker) I’m going to write a blog post about the emotional aspect of this surgery.

      I’m also reading some online forums that have me shaking my head at some people and being thankful for the rest. Just tonight, I saw a woman’s post that got my attention. She had her surgery 6 months ago and she’s a rage monster. Her relationship with her other half has disintegrated and they’re breaking up, she’s having problems at work…all because she suddenly finds herself unable to NOT say what she thinks. And not nicely.

      I’ve seen personal friends do some crazy shit after this surgery. I have a plan for that, which is coming up in that blog post. I’ve seen it happen so much I would be stupid not to think it could happen to me.

      This isn’t about skinny, it’s about getting shit done and living a life…with as few casualties as possible. 🙂

  2. I had two thoughts while reading this post.

    1) the first part of your diet (1200 cal, high protein/low carb) sounds almost EXACTLY like the diet I was put on during my Gestational Diabetes. I even have a 4 pack of the special Diabetus Shake (which was actually really tasty!) left if it’s something that follows with your diet, you are welcome to it! Glucerna…that’s the brand! I don’t remember the nutritional info on them but if they fit into your diet I will happily include them in a Care Package for you. I need to visit anyway, I miss you!

    And 2) your weeks 3&4 post-surgery sound an awful lot like what mara is eating! lol Maybe I can make some extra puree when I cook for her and bring it to you! lol

    <3 you girl and I know you can do this! Your mind is already mostly in the right place for this with everything you've already accomplished in the last 2 years!

  3. I’m recooping from a viral infection and right now pedialyte pops are my favorite thing in the entire universe.

  4. Also, get an emersion blender or baby-bullet type thing. Puree all the stuff. That’s what we did after my dad’s stroke when his swallow reflex was just coming back.

  5. Unrelated to this post but I don’t have Facebook: I can’t sleep without some noise either- what works well for us is just a small fan that sits on my husbands night stand. We have dogs too so I totally hear you on what noises need to be drown out . 🙂 just thought I’d mention it in case you have one in your house. We leave it running all night on low. It’s much cheaper than an actual white noise machine and I like that it keeps the air moving so it doesn’t seem as stale after being asleep all night!

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