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When you think of the pureed diet stage after bariatric surgery, where does your mind go? What do you think of when you think of a vegan bariatric pureed diet?
Maybe you’re just wondering what you can eat? Or perhaps you do have some ideas of what you could eat but wonder if and how these foods can be pureed? And maybe most of all you are struggling to find out what you will eat as a vegan on this diet stage?
What is a Vegan Bariatric Pureed Diet?
The pureed diet stage is usually the 3rd diet stage after bariatric surgery; clear liquids are first and then a full liquid phase after that. Sometimes a pureed diet stage is combined with soft foods and other times they are two separate stages.
Each bariatric center has a different timeline and different stages that patients progress through after surgery. Check with your center for specifics on how you should be progressing your diet.
A vegan bariatric pureed diet includes soft, moist foods that are a smooth consistency. Foods that you choose during this stage should be high in protein because when you can only eat small portions of food this makes it easier for you to get enough protein each day.
How to Puree Foods
Depending on which food you are pureeing there are a variety of tools that you may need to achieve the appropriate texture. Many tools are multipurpose and you probably will only need one or two to get through the puree stage. Some of these tools you probably already have in your kitchen.
A blender is a great tool to use for a variety of different purees but the most ideal application would be for smoothies and soups. Thicker purees are sometimes more challenging in a blender than a food processor; it can be more tricky to get the thick puree out of the blender.
Food processors can take chickpeas, garlic, tahini, olive oil, and spices and turn them into creamy hummus. Puree scrambled tofu in the food processor as another great option: add your favorite spices, sauté, and then blend until smooth.
An immersion blender is one of the most handy tools you can have in the kitchen. It makes blending almost any food convenient. You can leave your soup in the pot and just blend it right there.
Ice Cube Trays
Making pureed foods after bariatric surgery in the right portions can be a challenge. Many patients like to use ice cube trays to freeze small portions of pureed foods. That way you can just pull the right amount of food out of the freezer at meal time.
It can take some time to get used to these smaller portions. It may take some time to get used to having the right portions. This is normal; don’t get discouraged, just keep trying!
The quickest way to feeling sick after bariatric surgery is eating too quickly. Use baby spoons until you get used to taking small bites. Along with small bites, chewing thoroughly is also important for optimal digestion.
Invest in a supply of small resealable containers that you can use throughout your bariatric journey. Glass containers are usually the most durable, but they are more heavy. Plastic containers sometimes stain or warp easily with use but they are more easily transported since they are more lightweight.
Foods to Eat and Avoid on a Vegan Bariatric Pureed Diet
There are some foods to avoid during the pureed diet stage as they are more fibrous and difficult to digest and blend to a smooth consistency. Avoid raw vegetables and fruit skins during this time; they are too tough for you to tolerate.
Many vegan protein foods are soft and blend easily, such as tofu, legumes, lentils, and nut/seed butters. Some that do not include chewy seitan, crunchy roasted chickpeas, and nuts/seeds.
Other foods to avoid during this time include rice, pasta, bread, crackers, and other foods that are mainly carbohydrates but lack in protein. It is not that these foods are bad for you but at this stage after surgery foods higher in protein need to be prioritized for healing.
It may also be more difficult for you to tolerate these starchy foods right away after surgery. Eventually you will be able to try them but you need to be able to eat adequate amounts of protein and vegetables first.
Avoid alcohol entirely during this stage. It provides empty calories that can hinder your weight loss. It is also sometimes absorbed differently after bariatric surgery, which means that only a very small amount can affect you greatly.
How to Get Enough Protein on a Vegan Bariatric Pureed Diet
It can seem impossible to eat enough protein during the pureed diet stage after bariatric surgery as a vegan. It is possible to get plenty of protein as a vegan after bariatric surgery but it does take planning.
Tips to eat enough protein as a vegan during the pureed stage after bariatric surgery
- Eat often: 5-6 times per day
- Use protein drinks as needed to meet protein needs. Some options for vegans include Orgain, OWYN, and Silk Ultra Plant Based Protein Drink.
- Fortify foods with protein (mix these in with foods you are already eating):
- Protein powder
- Silken tofu
- Powdered peanut butter
- Focus on having protein foods first at meals if you’re eating other foods too
- Track your protein intake so that you know how you’re doing with protein intake instead of guessing
Example Meal and Supplement Schedule for a Vegan Bariatric Pureed Diet
An example meal and supplement schedule for a vegan bariatric pureed diet would look like this:
Do You Need Protein Shakes on a Vegan Bariatric Pureed Diet?
You’re probably noticing the protein shakes included frequently throughout the day. This is often needed after bariatric surgery to meet protein needs whether you are vegan or not. Protein shakes help when you are only able to eat very small portions of food after surgery.
As time goes on and you are able to eat more the number of protein shakes you need throughout the day to meet your protein needs will decrease. Many people get to the point where they do not need protein shakes at all but many do continue to use them sometimes because they like them.
Including Supplements Around Meals & Snacks
The supplements that you need to take after surgery should be spaced out through the day. There are a few reasons for this.
The supplements take up space in your pouch: taking too many at one time can make you feel too full.
There are some vitamins and minerals that do not absorb well when they are taken together. For example, calcium and iron do not absorb well when taken together. This is why the multivitamin with minerals and calcium supplements are separated in the daily schedule.
There is also a maximum amount of some vitamins and minerals that can be absorbed at once. Calcium is a great example of this. Keep doses of calcium to about 500 mg at a time.
What Should Your Portions Be?
Portions can vary depending on a variety of factors after bariatric surgery. As time goes on they will continue to increase for several months. Most people end up at about 1-1 ½ cups per meal most of the time.
Portions also vary depending on what you are eating. Something liquid, like a protein drink will go down easier than something more solid and thick, like pureed tofu or hummus. During early stages after surgery, including more liquid foods than thick and solid foods makes it easier to meet protein needs.
In conclusion, the pureed diet stage after bariatric surgery is challenging for anyone. If you’re not used to eating food that is all one texture, it can be shocking. Keep in mind though that this is temporary and you can get through it to the next diet stage.
As a vegan, navigating the pureed diet stage after bariatric surgery can be even more tricky because the majority of food choices that are recommended are animal-based. Even with a few plant-based choices peppered into the educational resources, they are typically not geared to vegans, leaving vegans feeling left out and unsupported.
I created this blog as a place for vegans to feel supported and for them to have the knowledge to feel confident working with their bariatric team to fill in knowledge gaps that exist for those that are vegan after bariatric surgery. Welcome-I’m glad you’re here!
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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.