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Dietary Guidelines After a Gastric Bypass (Gastrojejunostomy) or the Whipple Procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy)

This information describes the dietary guidelines you will need to follow after your gastric bypass (gastrojejunostomy) or the Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy).

After your surgery, you may need to change your eating patterns. This is due to changes in how much food you can eat at one time and the time it takes for food to leave your stomach. A dietitian will review this information with you before you leave the hospital. If you have any questions or concerns, or are loosing weight after you leave the hospital, call (212) 639-7071 to set up an appointment with a dietitian.

Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Listen to your body. After surgery, some patients feel full more quickly during meals. If this happens to you, or if you have nausea or indigestion, try eating smaller, more frequent meals. Try eating 6 half-size meals instead of 3 main meals a day. This will allow you to eat the same amount of food overall, but in smaller portions that will be easier to digest. You may be able to tolerate larger portions as time passes.

You will find sample menus at the end of this resource.

Drink Enough Liquids

The average-size patient needs to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of liquids each day. Limiting your liquids to 4 ounces (½ cup) per meal will leave more space for food. You should drink the majority of your liquids between meals (at least 1 hour before or after meals). This will help prevent you from getting dehydrated.

Chew Your Food Well to Help With Digestion

If you chew your food well, your body will digest the meals you eat more quickly and easily.

Eat Slowly

To avoid the discomfort that is caused by overeating, eat at a slow pace. You will know when you are full.

Start With Low-fat Foods

Trim any visible fat from meats and bake or broil foods instead of frying them. Use only a pat of butter or margarine and minimal amounts of oil. Avoid heavy gravies and cream sauces. Limit snack chips, croissants, doughnuts, and rich desserts. You can gradually increase the amount of fat in your diet to a comfortable level.

Monitor Your Bowel Movements

You may not be absorbing all the fats you are eating if you are having any of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Stools that float
  • Stools that are very light in color, frothy, greasy, or foul smelling

These symptoms may cause weight loss or decrease the absorption of certain vitamins in your body. If you have any of these symptoms, ask your doctor if you need to take pancreatic enzyme pills. An example is pancrelipase (Zenpep®). You can take these pills with your meals to help with digestion.

Diarrhea can be a symptom of lactose intolerance, or not being able to digest lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, your dietitian can tell you which dairy foods may be better for you to eat. Lactaid® tablets or drops can also help you digest dairy foods.

Some patients may have loose bowel movements after having large portions of sweets such as:

  • Sugar, honey, and syrup
  • Soda and fruit juices
  • Cakes, cookies, and candies

If you have this problem, limit or avoid sugary foods and drinks. It may also help to limit your intake of liquids to only 4 ounces during meals. Drink more liquids between meals, at least 1 hour before or after a meal. This will help prevent you from getting dehydrated.

Sample Menus

The sample menus below show 6 small meals with 4 ounces of liquid given at each meal and 8 ounces of liquid given between meals. Keep in mind that soup also counts as a liquid.

The menus also include solid foods. If you are on a mechanical soft (diced food) diet when you go home, ask your doctor when you can start eating solid foods again. Ask your nurse for the resource Eating Guide for Puréed and Mechanical Soft Diets.

The menu items are not all sugar-free. Use sugar-free or “lite” yogurt in place of regular yogurt, limit fruit juices, and dilute fruit juices with water if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood sugar
  • Are experiencing dumping syndrome (cramping, stomach pain, or diarrhea)

Foods below with an asterisk (*) have lactose. If you are lactose-intolerant, try Lactaid® milk in place of regular milk. Take Lactaid® tablets or drops to help you digest dairy products.

Meal Time

Sample Menu 1

Sample Menu 2

7:30 am
  • ¾ cup of corn flakes
  • ½ cup of milk*
  • ½ of a banana
  • 1 scrambled egg
  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1 teaspoon of margarine
  • ½ cup of orange juice

9:00 am

  • ½ cup of juice mixed with ½ cup of water
  • 1 cup of tomato juice
10:00 am
  • ½ cup of cottage cheese*
  • ½ cup of canned fruit
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 3 graham crackers
  • ½ cup of milk*

11:30 am

  • 1 cup of whole milk*
  • ½ cup of juice mixed with ½ cup of water
12:30 pm
  • ½ cup of chicken soup
  • ½ of a turkey and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato
  • 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise
  • ½ of a roast beef sandwich with lettuce
  • and tomato
  • 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of milk*

2:00 pm

  • 1 cup of tomato juice
  • 1 cup of broth
3:00 pm
  • Fruit yogurt*
  • ½ cup of cranberry juice
  • ½ cup of tuna salad
  • 6 saltine crackers
  • ½ cup of pineapple juice

4:30 pm

  • ½ cup of juice mixed with ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of juice mixed with ½ cup of water
5:30 pm
  • 2 ounces of baked chicken
  • 1 small baked potato with sour cream*
  • ½ cup of cooked carrots
  • ½ cup of lemonade
  • 2 ounces of baked fish
  • ½ cup of rice
  • ½ cup of green beans
  • 2 teaspoons of margarine
  • ½ cup of apple juice

7:00 pm

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of water
8:00 pm
  • 1 ounce of cheddar cheese*
  • 6 saltine crackers
  • ½ cup of apple juice
  • ¼ cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ cup of cranberry juice

9:30 pm

  • ½ cup of juice mixed with ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of juice mixed with ½ cup of water