Gastrectomy surgery requires a delicate diet in the days following the surgery. Without a stomach, it is more difficult to digest certain foods. Plus, you will need to eat smaller meals. Therefore, to get enough calories, you will need to eat more frequently than before.
Accordingly, you should focus on eating soft foods, like pasta, cheese, olive oil, yogurt, peanut butter, protein cookies, and the like. Also, make sure your foods are calorie dense. Meaning, eat foods that are low volume but high calories. Plus, those foods should be low or no added sugar. This helps avoid dumping syndrome.
Eventually, you will be able to eat foods that are more difficult to digest, like steak, tuna, and chicken salad. Also, you will build a tolerance to added sugars, caffeine, and other substances.
However, in the early days, you should focus on foods that are safe, meaning soft, calorie-dense, low sugar, and bland. For the first few weeks following my surgery, I found 5-10 foods that I knew were safe and stocked my kitchen with them. They helped me get calories. That was one of my main goals. To get roughly 2000 calories each day.
With my kitchen stocked with safe foods, I did not have to think too much about what I was going to eat. Plus,
- I knew these foods were easy for me to digest and not going to cause dumping syndrome.
- I had enough variety that I could always find something that sounded good enough.
- I could focus on learning about my new gut rather than being distracted by food decisions or food mistakes.
Hence, I was able to focus on feeling good rather than struggling to eat and maintain my weight. Here is a list of the foods I stocked my kitchen with for the first three weeks following my total gastrectomy surgery.
My list of foods to eat following gastrectomy surgery
80 calories. 4g sugar. 15g protein. Healthy gut bacteria. Very easy to digest because it is soft. This yogurt is great to eat plain. But because of its low calorie count, you can eat it with banana, peanut butter, granola, or protein bars to help increase the calorie count. I ate this either between bigger snacks or as part of my bigger snack.
250 calories. 0g sugar. 15g protein, 17g Fat. It looks like a real cookie. But they have no sugar and are packed with protein and calories. Easy to digest and not huge. This is a great way to take in calories without the sugar. Also, you won’t feel too full after. I usually ate this between bigger snacks to help bridge the gap between.
210 calories. 4g sugar. 7g protein. 17g fat. This is one of my favorite snacks. Peanut butter is very calorie dense. Lots of calories in minimal volume. It means you can eat a lot before getting full. Also, this peanut butter is relatively low sugar. Plus, it has healthy fats and protein. I love eating peanut butter with yogurt, bananas, chocolate, or granola to help increase the calorie count without increasing the volume too much. Peanut butter is so easy to digest because it is soft.
Low-sugar protein drinks
100 calories. 0g sugar. 17g protein. This is a great way to start the day. Most mornings, I am not hungry. Usually, I consume about half of my calories after 5pm. Low-sugar protein drinks help me take in calories while my gut is still waking up. They are easy on the digestive system and help keep me hydrated.
2 tablespoons is 240 calories. 0g sugar. 0g protein. 28g fat. Olive oil tastes great with noodles and bread. For instance, one serving of noodles is 200 calories. Adding two tablespoons of olive oil increases the total calories to 440. Plus, it is easy on your gut because it is liquid and therefore does not feel heavy on your digestive tract. Also, olive oil has lots of healthy fats. Sometimes, I eat olive oil all by itself just for the calories.
200 calories. 2g sugar. 6g protein. Noodles are easy to eat because they are soft. Plus, they help hydrate you because of their water content. One serving is enough to fill you up. If you eat slowly and chew thoroughly, you should be able to eat at least one serving. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to increase the total calorie count to 440 calories. I add salt and pepper for flavor. This is a great mid-day or evening snack.
150 calories. 1g sugar. 2g protein. Mashed potatoes are a good small snack by itself. However, if you are looking for more calories, it is also good as one component in a bigger dish. Add a serving of shredded cheese to increase the calories to 300. Add two servings of olive oil to increase the calories to 400. Add two eggs to increase the calories to 270. Mashed potatoes are easy to digest because they are soft.
120 calories. 4g sugar. 14g protein. 5g fat. Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and calories. Plus, it is gentle on your digestive tract. I like adding Worcestershire sauce and pepper on it. To add calories, eat it with crackers, bread, or fruit. It is a good mid-day snack because it is medium in volume relative to its calorie count. By mid-day, your gut should have warmed up a bit and is ready for larger volumes.
70 calories. 0g sugar. 4g protein. 6g fat. Cheese wheels are great when you need calories between meals or as part of a bigger snack. I used to try to eat three in one sitting. Three wheels is 210 calories and 12g protein. Plus, when I had no appetite, the cheese wheels were small enough that eating one felt achievable. You can also add calories by eating them with crackers, fruit, or vegetable juice.
200 calories. 5g sugar. 2g protein. 12 fat. Ritz crackers are easy to digest because they are easy to swallow and light on your digestive tract. At 200 calories, they serve as a great snack throughout the day. To increase the calorie count, eat them with peanut butter or yogurt.
60 calories. 10g sugars (natural). 3g protein. Vegetable juice is low calories but a good way to get servings of vegetables and round out your diet slightly. Also, it is a good way to pad other foods with additional calories. You can drink it with crackers, cottage cheese, noodles, and more. When you don’t feel like eating but need calories, vegetable juice might be a good option.
Mac ‘n cheese
230 calories. 6g sugar. 8g protein. 4g fat. Mac ‘n cheese is a classic. It is easy to chew and swallow. Plus, it is light on your digestive tract. It won’t make you feel heavy. To increase the calorie count, add shredded cheese (1 serving is 110 calories), olive oil (1 tablespoon is 120 calories), or bread (one piece is around 100 calories). Mac ‘n cheese is a great evening meal. I eat it after my gut is warmed up for the day.
100 calories. 0g sugar. 0g protein. 11g fat. Butter is an easy way to add calories to your food. Butter adds flavor, too. Like olive oil, one serving of butter is about 100 calories. Therefore, it can significantly increase the calorie count of your snack. Add it to noodles, mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, and bread.
Want to know what I eat now? Everything. But here are the foods that are my go-to foods for calories and safe eating.
Use the above list of foods as guidelines. Obviously, you should find foods and an eating routine that works best for you. However, knowing what worked for me may help guide you in finding an approach to eating after gastrectomy surgery that works for you.
Looking for tips on how to control your portion size? And other eating strategies? Watch this video and use its tips to design your own eating strategies.