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Managing Food in the Long Term after Weight Loss Surgery

Cassie Stuchbery, APD, AN, Dietitian

The first few months after a weight loss surgery like Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric sleeve surgery) or Gastric Bypass surgery can be very different to how you will feel long-term. This is because, typically, in the first 3-6 months people experience lower hunger levels and smaller portion sizes compared to later on.

These changes are a normal part of the surgical process. In fact, a lot of people find they need to eat regularly (every few hours or so) to manage their hunger. Some people find these changes worrying so here are my top tips for staying on track and managing food in the long term.


Keep up with protein


Protein foods like meat, eggs, chicken and fish can be some of the most difficult to eat after weight loss surgeries like Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric sleeve surgery) or Gastric Bypass surgery. Sometimes this means that, over time, people eat less. Protein is very important for muscle function and metabolism but also helps us to feel full. So make sure you are still getting a decent serve of protein with each meal.


Watch out for increasing carb portions


Often, after the 6 month mark, people find it becomes easier to eat bread, rice, pasta and other carbohydrate foods. These foods can be very convenient so it’s easy to start eating more of them but, if you don’t use them through daily life or exercise, this can cause weight gain. Remember to keep your portions small and avoid increasing them unless you are increasing your exercise.


Make exercise a habit


To maintain weight loss, and to stay healthy in the long-term, we recommend aiming for an average of 30min of exercise per day. Setting a specific time for this every day or every week can make it easier to stick to. Exercise has the added benefit of helping to prevent or manage health conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.


Increase salads and vegetables when you can


As your stomach capacity improves you might find that you have more space for food at meal times. This is a great opportunity to fill up on more salads and vegetables. This not only gives you fibre and vitamins but also helps you to feel fuller and keep your bowels healthy.


Be prepared – have healthy snacks available when needed


Another change that can happen 6 months after the surgery is that hunger can come back or become more frequent. If this is the case, it’s important that you have healthy snacks on hand so that if you are hungry you don’t have to eat something on the run or get too. I find that, if people get too hungry, they can end up eating too much or too fast, or choosing a food that they wouldn’t normally choose. Planning ahead with snacks or convenient meals can help you to be more mindful with your eating.

Cassie is an Accredited Practising Dietitian from Melbourne Australia. She works with LapSurgery Australia and has years of experience providing nutrition care to patients before and after weight loss surgeries like Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric sleeve surgery) or Gastric Bypass surgery. If you want more information about any of the above you can email Cassie at or call on 03 9760 2777 to make an appointment.