Some foods may swell in your pouch and cause problems. These are bread, rice, pasta, and some cereals. These must be avoided early on in order to allow the stomach to heal. Fresh hot bread sounds delicious, but it can swell in your pouch and make you very uncomfortable. Broccoli and asparagus tips are two of the high fiber items that can give you fits, so it is best to avoid them (remember the first President Bush? You can be like him—okay, maybe not, but avoid the broccoli anyway). Some Lap-band surgery patients, if they chew the vegetables well, have no problem with any of these items. Proceed with caution. Again, the enemy is vomiting—if you vomit or feel uncomfortable with a certain food, then avoid that food for a while. Really, there are a lot of food choices in the world, so don’t feel deprived. Just wait.

Lap-band surgery patients must eat solid foods

Plate of mushy food and a sign that says absolutely no mushy foods beyond this point

 —Mushy foods not allowed

Having the Lap-band means you can have a solid diet and be satisfied with a few ounces of food. You should not have “mushy” foods. Foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, and other soft foods will not fill your upper pouch or keep you satisfied. They will go through your pouch, and you will feel hungry again.

Early on, those foods may feel good to your Lap-band pouch. As with most weight loss surgeries, there will be times when your stomach just doesn’t feel like having certain foods. That is okay. The key to the success of Lap-band surgery is that it allows you to eat mostly solid foods and regular meals. With that small amount of food you are satisfied.

Weight loss surgery patients with the adjustable Lap-band do not have the same diet requirement as those who have had other types of weight loss surgery and can have a more “normal” diet. We encourage patients to consult with a nutritionist before Lap-band surgery to learn what and how to eat. You can have a bit of everything on the menu, but in smaller amounts. Do not skip meals. Have three meals a day about five hours apart.

Drinking and Eating with Lap-band surgery

Typically, if you have a good restriction, one cup of food will fill you and you will be quite satisfied. Again, this is dependent on having a good fill. If you are able to eat more than one cup full and still feel hungry, you might need a fill. The Lap-band is similar to the VBG and the RNY-gastric bypass in that liquid may force foods from the upper pouch into the lower stomach, resulting in hunger. Traditionally, Lap-band surgeons have advocated, “don’t drink” for at least an hour after eating. This is not always the case. Most Lap-band surgery patients find they cannot eat without drinking a bit of liquid with it, and sipping small amounts of liquid with some foods will not force food into the lower stomach. So, if you sip when you eat, that is fine, but DO NOT GULP. The secret to feeling full is to change your eating habits—chew your food well, swallow, and sip water or other liquids.

Important tips:

  • Cut food into a piece the size of your little finger’s nail
  • Chew at least ten times
  • If you need some liquid—sip, do not gulp
  • Limit your liquid with a meal to one cup at a time

You need to be aware of your water intake

Remember, two quarts a day is all you need. Early on, when the stomach is tender, you will need to sip water all the time. Some patients find they can drink warm or hot liquids, while others find they can only tolerate very cold liquids. This is an individual preference, and you will need to experiment with it. Water can also be a good tool to make you feel satisfied, so between meals, drinking a lot of water will keep you feeling full and prevent constipation. But don’t forget—after the Lap-band is placed you must always sip, don’t gulp.

Some Lap-band surgeons do not want their patients to eat and drink at the same time

If that is the case, then you should start drinking liquids 60 minutes after eating a meal. Start by sipping. If you feel full, wait a bit until you can sip some liquids. Meals should be no more than five hours apart, so after three hours (and this is a reason to set the clock) start drinking a lot of water or other liquids. Half an hour to fifteen minutes before your next meal, drink one to two cups of water (don’t gulp). This is called water loading, it will make you feel less like you have to eat and drink at the same time and it will allow you to feel much fuller after eating just a cup of food. Water is also a calorie-free way to feel full if you get quite hungry between meals. Instead of reaching for that donut, have some water. You probably need the water anyway (we do here in the Sonoran Desert).

Lap-band surgery commandment number one

—Know the size of thy pouch and do not overfill it

Your eyes may be bigger than your stomach—literally. As you advance to solid food, measure what you eat and learn the meaning of “satiety.” Some of you will feel the restriction right away, while others will not feel any restriction. If you have a good fill, you will discover what it takes to feel full. If you are being adjusted slowly, then you need to measure your food first. So measure your food twice, and eat once—you do not want to stretch your pouch, and you do not want to vomit. The last thing you want is to go back to the operating room because of a slip.