Have you been wondering when you can eat rice after gastric sleeve? Or after roux-en-y gastric bypass or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch?
Maybe it’s not rice you’re wondering about, but potatoes, pasta, sweets, coffee, soda, or alcoholic beverages. It is normal to be curious about what you can eat and when you can eat it after bariatric surgery.
Most of the time the answer to ‘can you eat rice after gastric sleeve’ is not black and white. It will depend on the recommendations of your bariatric surgery program, how much you can eat at one time, your individual food tolerance, and nutritional needs.
In this article I am going to give you the information you need to know to figure out when you can eat rice after gastric sleeve and other foods after bariatric surgery. I would recommend thinking through each food with your own situation in mind, rather than going by what other people are doing.
If you have questions, head over to the Facebook group and I can offer some ideas or the others in the group can chime in as well.
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How Do You Determine When You Should Eat Rice After Gastric Sleeve (and other foods)?
Bariatric Surgery Program Recommendations
Your bariatric surgery program very likely has given you strict guidelines to follow as to when certain foods should be introduced to your diet. You should follow these guidelines without exception. They have been put in place to help you meet your nutritional needs and help prevent complications, such as dehydration, food impaction, and nutritional deficiencies.
But, with that being said, oftentimes they give you some information to help you make some progression to your diet on your own. This is often based on the following:
If you’re not tolerating the diet stage and foods that you are currently eating, it is not typically recommended for you to move on to the next diet stage. If you’re not tolerating your food, you should contact your surgeon for further evaluation.
Typically, you should tolerate a few protein foods first and then veggies and fruits are next. After you’re doing good with those, most programs allow you to expand to more foods.
You need to make sure you can eat enough protein foods and vegetables first before you move on to adding the carb foods. This is not because carb foods are not good for you or are less nutritious than other foods.
The fact of the matter is that after bariatric surgery foods have to be prioritized in the early days after the surgery. Then, after you are able to eat larger portions, you can expand your options.
After bariatric surgery part of the reason for you to follow your diet progression is your nutritional needs. In the early days after surgery, you are able to eat very little and even with eating often the amount of calories you can take in is very low.
It is very important to eat extra protein when you’re able to eat only very little calories. This helps to maintain your lean muscle mass as much as possible. You will still lose some muscle, but it is less than when you’re not eating enough protein.
After you’re comfortable with the protein foods, vegetables and fruits are typically introduced. They tend to be well tolerated and provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the diet. As some starchy foods can be tricky to tolerate for many people, a lot of bariatric surgery programs encourage people to wait longer to introduce them.
When Can I Eat Rice After Gastric Sleeve (and other foods after bariatric surgery)?
Most bariatric surgery programs advise to hold off on introducing rice until about 3 months after the surgery. At this point you should be in a good habit of eating enough protein every day and including vegetables and fruits each day.
Rice can sometimes be difficult to tolerate after bariatric surgery for a few reasons. The first is that they can swell in your stomach, making you feel uncomfortably full. This doesn’t bother everyone, but some people struggle with this.
Strangely enough, rice can also be kind of dry in some preparations. This can make it difficult to swallow and sometimes can feel stuck.
Raw Vegetables and Fruits with Peels
Raw vegetables and fruits with peels are more difficult to tolerate for a few reasons. The first is that they require more chewing. The reason why this is problematic is that many people are not very good at chewing their food. Then after bariatric surgery, they need to chew more than they ever have. It takes most people a bit of time to get used to this.
Waiting until you have a good handle on the softer vegetables and fruits before starting to introduce the raw ones gives you a chance to get in the habit of chewing your food very well.
Bread is infamous for causing food tolerance issues after bariatric surgery. It can sometimes be dry, and sometimes it is just too gummy in texture and feels stuck after it goes down. For some people, toasting the bread can help reduce the gummy texture and improve tolerance. Similar to rice, bread can typically be introduced around 3 months after surgery.
Potatoes are such a versatile food that can be prepared in a variety of textures. Soft, mashed potatoes may be able to be included in the pureed phase, especially if they are made nice and moist. You can even experiment with adding unflavored protein powder to them to help you meet your protein needs.
As you progress after surgery, you can include more varieties of potatoes, such as baked and roasted. Fried potatoes should be kept to a minimum and for some people tolerance of fattier foods can vary.
Dried fruit can be quite difficult for people to tolerate after bariatric surgery. I would recommend waiting quite a bit on this one for a few reasons. One is that it can be difficult to chew well enough. If you don’t chew it well enough, at minimum it is just regular old intolerance that results in an upset pouch and you move on. At the worst, it could lead to an obstruction from not chewing it well enough.
Because dried fruit is more concentrated than regular fruit, the sugar that is naturally in the fruit is also more concentrated. In some cases, this can lead to dumping syndrome.
Popcorn, being a whole grain, is a healthy food choice. But, given its crunchy texture, you may be wondering when you can introduce it into your diet after bariatric surgery.
Popcorn requires quite a bit of chewing, just like the raw fruits and veggies. It would be recommended to wait until you are comfortable with chewing your food well enough to introduce popcorn. If you can handle raw vegetables and fruits with peels that would likely indicate that you could tolerate popcorn.
I would recommend just cooking the popcorn kernels in a little bit of oil (such as peanut oil) and sprinkling with salt. Even though air popped popcorn has less calories than the oil popped popcorn, it is more dry and therefore it could be more tricky for you to tolerate.
You can enjoy cooked cereals, such as oatmeal and cream of wheat quite early on after bariatric surgery. They can be included in your diet as early as the pureed stage and continued thereafter. To increase their protein content, you can add protein powder to your cooked cereal before cooking.
Cold cereals come in a wide variety of textures so it is difficult to put them all in one category. If they are able to soak in milk and become soft, they may be able to be included into early diet stages, such as soft.
Cereals that are more fibrous, such as shredded wheat or Fiber One may take longer to tolerate. I would recommend waiting longer to introduce these, maybe around 3 months after your surgery.
Just like rice, pasta can swell up in your stomach and make you feel uncomfortably full. For some people this gets easier with time, for others it doesn’t. You should be able to eat enough protein-rich foods and non-starchy vegetables before you start eating pasta. Waiting until you’re about 3 months out from your surgery is usually when this happens.
For some people, alternate pastas such as pasta made from beans or lentils are tolerated better. And they offer a nutritional boost too! These pastas generally have more protein and fiber than the regular pastas.
Sweets is such a varied category, that it can be hard to give guidelines to all of them at once. Most of the time you probably just get the advice to avoid them altogether. I don’t think this is very helpful or realistic, because for the majority of people, it just isn’t reality.
Figuring out how you can include them intentionally, when you really want them is more helpful than just trying to avoid them altogether as this can lead to wanting them more.
Overall they should be limited after bariatric surgery to help ensure adequate weight loss, but tolerance can also guide how often they get included.
Many people report dumping syndrome or symptoms that resemble it when they eat sweets. For this reason, I would recommend waiting at least 3 months after your surgery before you introduce these foods.
They can sometimes be easier to tolerate when they are consumed as part of a meal, rather than on their own.
Sweet beverages, such as frappuccinos, fruit juice, and sweet tea are typically tolerated poorly after bariatric surgery. Even if you do tolerate them, it can be easy to consume a large amount of calories from these foods as they pass through your stomach quickly compared to other foods.
Soda and Other Carbonated Beverages
Soda and carbonated drinks are one thing that I would recommend avoiding all of the time after bariatric surgery. Because of the bubbles they can make you feel uncomfortably full. Some also theorize that the bubbles can cause some stretching to the opening from the stomach pouch to the small intestine in the roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery.
Most people that end up trying carbonated beverages after surgery find out that they don’t feel good when they drink them and end up just avoiding them because of that.
Peanut Butter (and other nut and seed butters)
Depending on how you are eating it, tolerance to peanut butter can vary. If you blend it into a smoothie or a soup, you could eat peanut butter during the puree stage. Eating it on its own will be a different experience and may take more time to tolerate. Nut butters can be quite sticky and therefore a bit more challenging to tolerate.
Technically they are the right texture to include in a pureed diet stage, but I would recommend trying some other foods before nut butters. I would also recommend starting with a very small bit-just a lick to see how it goes before trying more.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds require quite a bit of chewing, so just like the raw veggies and fruits, you should hold off on eating them until you’re comfortable with chewing your food adequately. If you’re at the point where you can comfortably eat raw veggies and fruits with peels, you should be okay to try nuts and seeds to see how you tolerate them.
As long as they’re chewed well enough, they tend to be tolerated well after bariatric surgery.
Caffeine tends to be discouraged after bariatric surgery. In the early days after surgery there are usually a few concerns. One is that it can irritate the GI tract while it is healing. The other reason that I see is that caffeine can be dehydrating. While this is true to some extent, I think it is over-emphasized. Research hasn’t shown a very significant effect on hydration from caffeine.
To be safe, I would definitely recommend waiting until you are staying adequately hydrated before you start drinking caffeine. And then if you do decide to include caffeine in your diet, you should be mindful of making sure you are not over-consuming calorie-dense caffeine beverages, such as frappuccinos.
You should wait at least 6-12 months before even thinking about alcohol after bariatric surgery. And then, if you want to include it you should follow the recommendations from your bariatric surgery program about how to go about it.
Alcohol is full of calories that can hinder your weight loss and may be absorbed differently after surgery (depending on the type of surgery you had). The other thing not to forget is the potential for cross addiction/addiction transfer after bariatric surgery.
You can read more about this topic here.
Wrapping Up to Help You Figure Out When You Can Eat Rice After Gastric Sleeve
Figuring out when to introduce certain foods after bariatric surgery can be incredibly overwhelming. There is no straight answer to ‘When can I eat rice after gastric sleeve?’ Unfortunately there are not black and white guidelines that all bariatric programs follow for food introductions and also tolerance can vary from person to person. In general, you should be able to figure it out by looking for a few clues.
First is what your bariatric program recommends. If they have a guideline for a specific food, you should stick to it. If they don’t, there are some things you can think about:
Are you chewing your other foods well enough and tolerating them?
Are you able to eat enough protein food at each of your meals and then non-starchy vegetables? And then still have room? This could be a sign that you could try some whole grains.
It may take some experimenting and time to tolerate some foods. And there may be some that you never tolerate. This can be tough, but try to focus on what you can eat, rather than what you cannot. Having a mindset of abundance, rather than restriction can make the transition easier on you after surgery.
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.