How much (or how little) can you eat after bariatric surgery? How can you survive off of that??? Part I

No doubt that following weight loss surgery, the amount of food you are able to eat will never be the same.  Let’s look at a few examples.  I was eating off a saucer for both meals below.

On the left is a plate of shrimp and tofu stir fry with a low-carb eggroll, and on the right is how much I had leftover when I was full.

Below on the left is a dinner of baked chicken thigh with green beans and rutabaga, and on the right is how much was leftover when I was full.

So as you can see, I was not able to complete either meal.  That is the point of the surgery, to help you limit how much you can consume by physically manipulating your stomach.  Take notice of the fact that both meals above are whole foods made up of mainly protein and vegetables.  That is important, because protein helps fill you up.  As a bariatric post-op, you must be extra vigilant to get in enough protein*, because this is what helps you not only with satiety, but with building muscle and burning fat.

After surgery, it will take some time for your eyes to adjust to the proper portion size for you; you can see in the pics above that I put more on my plate than I could handle.  I highly recommend getting new plates and bowls to eat off of, because the bigger the plate, the more food you put on it because that’s what your eyes are accustomed to seeing.  I don’t even bother to use a regular plate anymore, because there’s no way to be able to eat all that.  Also, I don’t use regular bowls anymore; I recommend buying ramekins, because that’s about how much you’ll be able to eat.  I’m using the comparisons below to illustrate how much you’ll be able to eat after surgery.  In the first pic is a regular 9 inch dinner plate vs a saucer.  On the right is a regular cereal bowl vs a ramekin.

It doesn’t seem like alot, but trust me, you’ll be full and satisfied.  And you’ll have enough energy throughout the day (as long as you get enough protein).  Throughout the day you’ll eat three main meals using the saucer or ramekin, and then two snacks in between. If you are not able to physically consume the amount of protein you need, then you can always rely on your protein shakes to assist you.**

Now here’s the gotcha – what many people don’t realize is that after bariatric surgery, you can still eat your fill of simple carbs – cake, cookies, chips, candy,  French fries, etc.   Ehh…don’t ask me how I know, but you can still eat two or three slices of cake in one sitting.  You can still eat a bag of chips.  You can still eat a large plate of pasta, like momma’s macaroni and cheese…I mean, uh…somebody’s momma’s mac n’ cheese.  You get the the picture.


Why can I eat so much of the simple carbs and not so much of the whole foods?  Simple carbs are meant to be consumed in excess because they are “highly palatable,” especially foods that are processed, and meant to have you addicted.

Let me be clear with you:


Granted, yes, the first time or so that you eat simple carbs after surgery, you might get some digestive upset.  But if you keep up the behavior (the habit of reaching for comfort foods because you feel upset, sad, bored, angry) at some point your body is just going to get used to it and your weight will pile back on.  The surgery ONLY changes your stomach, not your brain or your heart.  Curbing your intake of simple carbs and adopting healthier habits is going to be totally up to you – and that’s why having weight loss surgery is not the “easy way out,” because to be successful with your weight loss as a post-op, you still have to deal with…well…you.  And you still need to exercise.  Basically all the stuff you were supposed to do before surgery, now you really have to do after surgery because that honeymoon period is going to wear off one day.  The surgery is only a tool there to help you, it won’t do the work for you – just like how you can take a car to work, but the car doesn’t do the job for you.  It is you that has to sit at your desk and get your work done.

Tune in next month for an in-depth look at weight gain post-op, how it happens and what you can do.

* I was instructed to make sure that I get in at least 60 – 80g of protein per day, but make sure to talk to your doctor about what is the requirement for you.

** Again, talk to your doctor about the types of protein shakes and the number of daily meals and snacks they advise for you.

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor and cannot provide medical advice.  Please consult with your doctor with your concerns about your health and weight loss efforts.



4 thoughts on “How much (or how little) can you eat after bariatric surgery? How can you survive off of that??? Part I

    • Congrats on your surgery Shannon! At that time, I was getting in my protein by drinking pre-made protein shakes (mainly Premier Protein) or making up my own smoothies with Body by Vi vanilla protein powder or the flavored protein powders from There are also unflavored protein powders out there that you can mix into your water (Unjury is a popular brand but I have not tried it yet). And I just recently came across a great berry-flavored protein drink called Atkins Lift Protein drink (not sure where you live but I found it at Big Lots for $2 for 4 bottles).

      Good luck!


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