Lap Band Diet
The success of lap band surgery is greatly determined by whether or not you follow the dietary guidelines of your bariatric surgeon and nutritional advisor. While the lap band can help control your appetite and restrict your eating, it is up to you to choose the foods that are put into your body. If you want to lose weight, it will be important to adopt a healthy diet.
You will be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods with the lap band, but you will need to learn which foods to eat and which foods to avoid. Some foods can sabotage your weight loss efforts and some foods are problematic with the gastric band. Your diet should consist of band-friendly foods that are low in calories and high in nutritional value.
Healthy Diet Foods
The lap band diet is designed to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to remain healthy and function properly, yet strictly control the amount of calories consumed each day. Meals will focus on foods that are high in protein and nutritional content and limit foods that are high in calories and offer little nutritional value.
The diet ideally includes:
- low-fat proteins (lean meats, fish, skinless poultry, eggs, soy products)
- fruits and vegetables (without skins, non-fibrous)
- healthy breads and cereals (whole grains)
- dairy products (non-fat or low-fat)
- heart-healthy fats
The biggest changes in your diet after lap band surgery will be in the size of your meals and your eating behaviors. The lap band works best with solid foods which stay in the stomach pouch longer and help you feel full after eating only a few ounces of food.
Guidelines for eating with the lap band include:
- Choose foods that are low-calorie, high-protein, and nutrient-rich
- Eat only solid food for meals
- Do not drink with meals or within 30 minutes of eating
- Eat only three small meals a day
- Stop eating when you feel full, even if you haven’t finished your meal
- Eat slowly, it can take at least a half hour to eat a small meal
- Chew food to a mushy consistency, about 15 to 20 chews per bite
- Avoid snacking between meals
Foods to Avoid
Some foods should be eliminated from your diet, as they can either cause problems with the gastric band or defeat your weight loss efforts.
Problematic foods to be avoided:
- Carbonated beverages - can cause bloating, stretching, and discomfort; includes soda, carbonated water, sparkling cider or wine
- Fibrous foods - can get stuck in the small stomach opening; includes asparagus, celery, corn, dried fruit, oranges, pineapples, sweet potatoes
- Tough foods - can get stuck in the small stomach opening; includes tough meats such as steak, pork chops, hamburger, skins and seeds of fruit and vegetables, nuts, and popcorn
Unhealthy foods to be avoided:
- Foods high in sugar content; includes regular soft drinks, syrups, honey, jelly, jam, cakes, cookies, ice-cream, candy
- Foods high in fat content; includes chocolate, pies, pastries, ice-cream, chips, bacon, sausage, fried foods, cream soups, cream sauces
- Drinks high in calorie content; includes milkshakes, regular soda, beer, fruit juices, whole milk, alcoholic beverages
- Starchy and processed white flour foods; includes pasta, rice, doughy breads
- Fats (limit to 3 to 4 teaspoons per day); includes butter and oil
Problematic Eating Behaviors
Some eating behaviors can cause problems because of the smaller stomach pouch and smaller stomach opening. Lap band patients are instructed to eat slowly, chew food thoroughly, and to stop eating when they feel full, even if the meal isn’t finished. Most lap band patients have one or two experiences that teaches them the importance of these guidelines.
Eating behaviors to avoid:
- Overeating, which can result in pain, nausea, and vomiting
- Eating too quickly, which can result in discomfort
- Swallowing chunks of food, which can get stuck in the very small stomach opening (about 1/4") and cause discomfort
- Snacking between meals, which adds too many calories to the daily diet
- Drinking with meals, which moves the food through the stomach too quickly and defeats the purpose of the lap band
It is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to keep the body hydrated. Some of the signs of dehydration are fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, and dry skin. You should drink 6 to 8 cups daily of low-calorie, non-carbonated liquids, such as water, broth, tea, and artificially sweetened drinks. Although it is important to sip on liquids throughout the day, liquids should be avoided with meals and within 30 minutes either before or after a meal. Liquids move food through the stomach too quickly and reduces satiety (feeling of fullness). The lap band works best when meals are limited to solid foods.