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Have you just started on the soft diet stage after bariatric surgery and have no idea what to eat as a vegan? In this blog post I am going to answer all of your questions about what the soft diet stage is, what to eat, what to avoid, and tips to help you feel your best during this stage.
At the end of this article you can download a PDF guide to the soft diet for vegans that includes a sample menu for one day.
And before you know it, you’ll be through it and on your way to eating regular textured foods!
Why Do You Need a Bariatric Soft Diet?
When you are starting the soft diet, you are probably still learning how to chew your food the way that you need to after surgery and getting used to learning when you are full. If you were to start eating regular texture foods right now, it would be more likely that you wouldn’t tolerate them.
The soft diet stage gives you a chance to further develop your skills navigating eating after surgery. Don’t skip it, even if you think you’re doing fine!
When Do You Start the Bariatric Soft Diet?
The soft diet stage can start at a variety of different times, depending on the recommendations of your bariatric program. Some programs start on the soft diet right after full liquids, whereas other programs will have you go through a pureed diet stage after full liquids and then start on the soft diet stage.
You will probably start on the bariatric soft diet stage between 2-6 weeks after surgery. You should do what your bariatric program recommends.
How Much Do You Eat on the Bariatric Soft Diet?
The portion that you should eat on the bariatric soft diet will vary from person to person. Different foods will fill you up differently as well. You should listen to guidance from your bariatric surgery program as well as listen to your body’s fullness signals.
Most people eat about ⅓-½ cup of food per meal during the soft diet stage, but again this varies.
You should be meeting the protein goal given to you by your bariatric surgery program during the soft diet stage. At minimum, most people need at least 60 g of protein per day after bariatric surgery. Another way it is sometimes calculated is 1.0-1.5 g/kg of ideal body weight (IBW). See how to calculate ideal body weight here.
The exact amount of protein people need to eat after bariatric surgery is not known, these equations provide our best estimate.
Read more about protein here.
During the soft diet stage you will be eating much fewer calories than your body would need to maintain your weight. Typically people are eating less than 700 calories per day yet at this stage.
What Foods to Eat on a Bariatric Soft Diet
You will likely be given some guidance from your bariatric surgery program on what to eat at various diet stages. Many times though, the recommendations are not relevant to a vegan diet. Here are some ideas that do work on a vegan diet:
- Silken and Soft Tofu
- Soy Milk
- Soy Curls (cooked soft)
- Protein Shakes
- Steamed Vegetables
- Sautéed Greens
- Canned Vegetables
- Canned Fruit (canned in juice or water, rather than syrup)
- Cooked Cereal
- Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
- Oil (olive, canola, avocado for example)
- Peanut Butter
- Vegan Mayo
- Infused water
- Coffee (check with your bariatric program if you’re allowed to have caffeine at this stage)
What Foods to Avoid on a Bariatric Soft Diet
Foods that are crunchy, hard, or very chewy should be avoided on a bariatric soft diet. Some other foods are not allowed as they are more difficult to tolerate.
Many of them may be added back in once you advance to a regular diet stage as you tolerate.
Here is a list of the common foods to avoid on the soft diet stage:
- Raw Vegetables
- Fruit Peels and Pith
- Nuts and Seeds
- Firm and Extra-firm Tofu
- Carbonated Beverages
- Fruit Juice
Recommended Equipment for a Bariatric Soft Diet
Meal Prep Containers
You will still be eating quite small portions on the soft diet. Use meal prep containers to store leftovers. I prefer glass containers as they tend to last longer and don’t discolor or lose their shape.
Here is the set that I use from Amazon. There are some quite large containers in here that you could use to store multiple servings and some small ones to separate out your meals.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Use measuring cups and spoons to measure ingredients for recipes and to make sure you are on track with the portions recommended by your bariatric surgery center. You can also use them to measure portions of foods if you are tracking your food.
Here is what I use from Amazon:
The food scale is another option for measuring your food in addition to the measuring cups and spoons. For some foods it can be easier to measure with a food scale. For example, peanut butter is sticky and can be challenging to clean out of a measuring spoon. Using a food scale could be less messy.
I use a food scale that is similar to this one from Amazon:
If glass containers are too heavy to carry around or your fridge is packed full, using reusable silicone bags are another great option to store leftovers or prepped meals.
I love these reusable bags from Stasher. They are dishwasher safe and can be used over and over. It is also handy that they are lightweight, so I use them a lot to pack a lunch for work. You can buy them on Amazon:
On the bariatric soft diet you need to avoid fruit and vegetable peels. Make sure you have a vegetable peeler handy to make it easier to remove the peels before eating.
Quick Meal Ideas for a Bariatric Soft Diet
- Vegan yogurt alternative with protein powder mixed in. Top with finely chopped strawberries.
- TofurkyⓇ slices rolled up with hummus.
- Canned lentil soup.
- Canned bean chili.
- Refried beans topped with salsa and a thin slice of avocado.
- Instant oatmeal with protein powder and bananas added.
- Smoothie bowl: blend protein drink with frozen fruit. If you have a strong blender, you can make it quite thick and eat it like a bowl, rather than a drink.
- Pudding: use a high protein liquid, such as Silk Ultra Protein to mix with a sugar-free instant pudding mix. Top with a few slices of canned peaches.
- Mashed chickpeas mixed with mustard and vegan mayo to make a soft mock tuna salad. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, kelp flakes, and salt to taste.
- Instant mashed potatoes: follow package instructions to make instant mashed potatoes and add unflavored protein powder. Serve with soft cooked vegetables.
- Just EggⓇ: scramble Just EggⓇ with 1 teaspoon olive oil and serve with soft cooked onions and bell peppers. Make sure the vegetables are not crunchy. Top with salsa. Serve with a couple cubes of honeydew melon.
Bariatric Soft Food Recipes
Here are a few recipes that you could eat on the bariatric soft diet.
How to Add Flavor to Foods on the Bariatric Soft Diet
Top with Sauces
- Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Sauce
- Peanut Sauce (this recipe is a great option)
- Marinara Sauce
- Sambal Oelek
- Tahini Sauce (this tahini sauce is AMAZING!)
- Barbecue Sauce
- Romesco Sauce
- Mrs. DashⓇ
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Soy Sauce
Tips for Success on a Bariatric Soft Diet
- Take your vitamin and mineral supplements. This is not negotiable. If you’re not tolerating or not liking what you’re taking, let your bariatric team know.
- Take your time with eating and chewing. Eat without distractions so that you are chewing enough to tolerate your food. This will also help you to be able to know when you’re full.
- Go to your follow-up appointments with your bariatric team. Even if you think you’re managing fine, you need to go. Your bariatric team can make sure everything is on the right track.
- Follow your bariatric team’s other recommendations, such as exercising regularly.
- Keep trying new foods. If something doesn’t go well the first time, you can try it again. Don’t give up.
- Have a source of protein at each meal and snack. This is important for you to be able to meet your protein goals.
On the bariatric soft diet your diet will be expanding to include more variety and textures than the full liquid or pureed diet stages. You will also be increasing your food portions. After the soft diet stage, you often move on to the regular texture diet stage.
Definitely something to look forward to!
Ashley Krautkramer, RD, CSOWM, CD, CDCES is a vegan and bariatric nutrition expert with more than six years of experience. She is a board certified specialist in obesity and weight management.