Practical, Bariatric Friendly, Carb Conscious, Real World… Early Meals

Everyone wants to smack the Low Carb Tortillas from our hand but no one says what we CAN eat. We’ve been eating WRONG foods for a lifetime, how do we suddenly know what’s right?


What to Eat! Easier than what NOT to eat...


There are a few food stages that post ops go through fresh from the hospital.

1. too scared to swallow your own spit

2. wonton soup ‘without the stuff’

3. boldly drinking ‘cream’ soups (what the heck is a cream soup??!!!)

Then we fall straight off the cliff and have NO idea what comes next! People wander into our Bariatric Eating Support Group on Facebook and announce that they ate four bites of a chicken quesadilla that was yummy but made them sick. Of course bedlam ensues as everyone CHANGES TO ALL CAPS AND SCREAMS ‘NO TORTILLAS’.

People are VERY good at telling you what NOT to eat, especially when you tell them what you ate. Here’s are some ideas of what you can have with a few photos sprinkled in.

This is long but be patient and read it carefully as I promise it will help you no matter where you are in food stages from one day to twenty years. Fact.



These are Full Liquids that you CAN eat – full liquids by definition are foods that are smooth and pourable

An Inspire Protein drink

Oikos Triple Zero Greek yogurt (the black container) – this is a smooth brand – no fruit chunks

Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk – Unsweetened being critical here

Creamed or Smooth Soups – puree Progresso Lentil, Black Bean or Minestrone soup in blender and then heat. Amy’s Tomato or Wolfgang Puck Butternut Squash Soups are good choices. Cream refers to texture, not the use of milk or cream.  (NO noodles or rice or chowder’s with potatoes)

Tomato Juice or V-8, warmed or chilled

Jello Sugar Free Instant Pudding or better yet make the cooked kind, use fat free milk.  (IMPORTANT! Instant pudding will NOT set with almond or soy milk)

Whisk enough 100% Idahoan dried potato flakes (sold in packets) into a small pot of hot Swanson chicken broth until thin and pourable

Ricotta swirled with warmed seedless Smucker’s Sugar Free Preserves – warming the preserves loosens the ricotta


Here are some simple Full Liquid to Puree foods you can prepare using our easy recipes (CLICK name of recipe to view)

Vanilla Egg Custard
Homemade Chicken Broth
Zucchini Soup
Tuscan Bean Soup
Smooth Black Bean Soup


Sugar free diced canned peaches with 1% cottage cheese and cinnamon

These are Puree to Soft Foods you CAN eat – foods that are the texture of applesauce or that can be mashed with a fork to the consistency of applesauce

One egg scrambled with 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese

Blend equal parts unsweetened baby food fruit with ricotta

Part skim ricotta cheese

No sugar added applesauce

1-2% cottage cheese

Tilapia poached in tomato juice and fork mashed with a little cooking liquid

Spoon salsa over cottage cheese


One egg scrambled and cooked in a non stick skillet, rolled with ricotta & salsa

Here are some simple Puree to Soft foods you can prepare using our recipes (CLICK name of recipe to view)

Egg ‘Crepe’ with Ricotta & Salsa
Pinto Bean Puree
Maryland Shrimp Spread
Cinnamon Applesauce
Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce
Pumpkin Custard


Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

Then once you are doing well with purees and soft foods… you still need to proceed with caution. Remember that we told you this. Just because someone TELLS you that you can eat chicken, doesn’t mean you can actually do it. The surgeons and the nutritionists often have not HAD bariatric surgery so when they tell you are ‘released’ to eat a particular food they mean ‘in theory’. Foods need to be simmered or lightly cooked in a liquid sauce or salsa. Low carb vegetables also moisten bites of food.

Here are some creative protein meals that are good choices for bariatric post ops, once you’ve tackled the softer smoother foods

Chicken Tenders – put a chicken tender on a cutting board, cover with a piece of plastic wrap and smack a few times with a heavy saucepan, meat mallet, or wine bottle bottom to slightly flatten. Season with Lemon Pepper and cook for 2 minutes per side over high heat in a teaspoon of olive oil in a non stick skillet. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Simmer boneless skinless Chicken Tenders or Thighs in a jar of salsa until tender and falling apart in the sauce – 30 to 40 minutes

Simmer boneless skinless Chicken Tenders or Thighs in a jar of pasta sauce until tender and falling apart in the sauce – 30 to 40 minutes

Lightly cook Shrimp in a jar of salsa until just cooked though – 4 to 6 minutes

Lightly cook Shrimp in a jar of pasta sauce until just cooked though – 4 to 6 minutes

Lightly cook Tilapia, Cod or Sole in a jar of salsa until just cooked through – 4 to 5 minutes

Lightly cook Tilapia, Cod or Sole in a jar of pasta sauce until just cooked through – 4 to 5 minutes


Serve any of these soft proteins with the following lower carbohydrate, high nutrient vegetables

Yellow Squash – cut into 1 inch pieces and cook, in a covered pan with 1 tablespoon of water, salt and pepper, until soft and tender.

Zucchini – cut into 1/2 inch slices and cook in a covered pan with enough pasta sauce to coat until soft and tender.

Cut Tomatoes, Avocado and Cucumber into small cubes and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon vinegar.

Saute Baby Spinach leaves in a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Make a small Chopped Salad with baby greens and diced tomato – blend with Bolthouse Farms Yogurt dressing.

Think soft moist protein FIRST with soft cooked vegetables or salads to moisten each mouthful! If at any point you do not do well with a food and it comes back up; sip warm tea to soothe your touchy tummy and back down into the full liquid or puree stage for a day or so. Even as an almost twenty year post op, I still make an occasional misstep, the food comes back up and I have to nurse my wounds with warm tea. It’s not you… its just life after bariatric surgery. 




35 thoughts on “What to Eat!

  1. Sonja says:

    Thank you! This is so much clearer and more helpful than just naming stages, especially complete with recipes!

  2. Carmen Martinez says:

    I’m currently awaiting for approval from my insurance company to schedule my surgery. I’m looking forward to it. I would like to know if there are inexpensive recipes to try. I like the clean life, but it’s so expensive, that I can’t afford it.

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      Carmen, eating healthy does not have to be expensive. If we COOK instead of buying boxed, frozen and packaged convenience foods, that is half the battle. We all have times when we are not flush with cash and those times I make pots of stew and soups with beans and vegetables and serve salads with small portions of chicken. I make a lot of egg omelets with vegetables and egg custards. I make a big bowl of jello with cut up fresh fruit that is on sale right now… its not nearly as much as I spent when I was 300 pounds. Join our Facebook group lots of people to help you. Ciao, Susan Maria

      • Millie Sowers says:

        I have also found that eating “clean” or “healthy” may initially be a bit more costly but you save in the long run because you don’t purchase as much the next trip and you’re more satisfied eating good food instead of the things that got us there in the first place. So your tendency to overeat is less, causing the grocery bill to be less. Make sense?

  3. Beth Edwards says:

    I  love all your recipes  in your books. Susan  Maria. Thanks for all the help on your website. I had my surgery done in 2007 and have kept off 160lbs. I am so proud of myself. There are times I am down on the surgery when I don’t feel well because I ate the wrong thing. but in the long run I know I did the right thing.. So thanks again. Let me me know how I can get on facebook. Beth

  4. Laura says:

    In 2004, when I was getting ready for my surgery, I asked my surgeon several times, if I would be able to eat a corn tortilla again. I am Hispanic, and I LOVE them. My surgeon is Dr. Mohammed Ali (YES, that is his real name), and he teaches the procedure as well as performing the surgery. He is a teacher for UC Davis, which is a HUGE teaching hospital in Sacramento. He stated several times to me, that as long as it was not very often, and I did not overdo it, it would be fine, as a treat. I treat it as such. I have quesadillas once in a while, but my thing is a scrambled egg, with either ketchup or salsa, and a tortilla. An egg taco. I have a little sneezing afterwards, but other than that, I have no reaction. The sneezing reaction comes with eating any kind of carbs, even veggies. I am 10 years out, maintaining my 125 lb. weight loss. I also had a tummy tuck in 2011. I fluxuate 5-7 lbs. from time to time. I am vigilant, because I will not waste this gift. I have self esteem now, instead of self-loathing. As Susan Maria says, NOTHING tastes as good, not even a corn tortilla!, as skinny feels.

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      Laura, you are VERY wise! You learned to LIVE without it and because you no longer HAVE to have them, you treat it as a special food. Happy you ave done so well! I know Dr. Ali… always smile when I hear his name.

  5. Sheryl says:

    This will be very helpful for I had my bypass surgery at least 15 years ago and gained back a great deal of weight to my great dismay. I can’t walk anymore and mostly sit now at my laptop due to Chronic pain and thought all was lost and it was all for nothing. This has given me some hope and I thank you.

  6. Tina Calhoun Simmons says:

    Thank you so much I’m five weeks post op and I’m seriously struggling with eating and keeping foods down. This has helped a great deal.

  7. Helen says:

    I had my surgery in 2008, I lost 40 pounds before andcover 100 pounds after. I’ve found that I can eat pretty much anything that I want and as a result I’ve gained back a little more than half of what I lost. I’m ashamed of myself and I really do want to lose the weight again. I’ve never had a support group to lean on, Kaiser discontinued theirs in Sacramento just before my surgery date. I didn’t know how to find a group until a wonderful woman signed me up for this group. Reading the posts gives me hope, I have a problem staying away from sweets so I’m hoping that by checking the posts will give me the strength to walk away. I was not blessed with dumping syndrome therefore I don’t get sick. I really do need help to stay away from foods that are not good for me. I need help with creating a menu that will help me to lose the weight again. My husband and I will be renewing our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary in January and I don’t want to look like this. One would think that would be enough, but I just don’t have willpower. Any help/suggestions will be very welcome.

  8. Betty says:

    Im 4 yrs out today and have gained 30 to 35 pounds trying to start over to lose what I have gained . I need all the recipes & ideas I can get 🙂 My family eats what I eat so I don’t have to cook 3 or 4 different meals or they cook what they want or go hungry

  9. Theresa says:

    I am almost down with the 6 month period my Insurance has me doing for approval, I also don’t want facebook people to see or talk about my choice (family) to do the surgery. I have asked to join this group, sounds like a great support group and recipes i can do.

  10. Leigh says:

    I’m not post-surgery, nor am a a dietician, so I can’t advise on portions, but my favorite summer salad is chopped homegrown tomatoes, finely chopped fresh basil to taste (dried won’t do), shredded low-fat mozzarella (about 1/4 the volume of the tomatoes) and a drizzle of good olive oil. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar if you wish. No salt needed, and this is one of the few salads where I don’t add pepper.

  11. Eileen says:

    I am three weeks post op tomorrow and down 30 pounds including the week prior for liquid diet. So far so good I sometimes don’t know if I really did the right thing because I can’t just eat whatever the hell I want but in reality I know I had to do this and I know it is the right thing when have I ever lost 30 pounds in 3 weeks never but its hard sometimes especially during that liquid stage this weekend started my puree soft food stage so I’ve tried the scrambled eggs that went well now I’m trying to find other things and I say this not that I’m proud of it but I’m a very picky eater I’m not a big vegetable eater and I specially don’t like beans so it makes it harder I will try vegetables but I will not eat beans so makes things a little bit harder for me if anyone has any suggestions please let me know I do have a question and my only to be eating protein at this time that is why I get confused

    • Penny McDaniel says:

      I had eggs in everyway I knew how. Scrambled loose with a little cheese, crepes with ricotta, burritos without the shell with salsa and a little cheese, baked in custard, baked with cheese and salsa, deviled. Sugar free puddings, frozen pudding pops made with sugar free pudding. Chicken had to be cooked in sauce and blended at first. I love refried beans so I had them a lot.

  12. Nathalie says:

    I an 2 days post opt. I LOVE not feeling hungry. I don’t know what exactly what to start eating. I can start liquid fluids Friday. .The recipes in the site. Made my mouth water.. please accept Alie More on your Facebook group.

  13. Mary Ann says:

    This article is great and the stages at the beginning were described perfectly. My first “meal” at a few days post-op in a restaurant was won ton soup broth, without the stuff too.

  14. Debbie says:

    I am pre-op but haven’t even started any of the pre-op foods/liquids yet. Not sure when my surgery will be. Dr. pretty much gave me the choice of December or January and I’m debating. Am I setting myself up for a more difficult to do it before the new year with all the holiday prep/guests/ etc., and would possibly NOT be able to care for myself properly? Or is that just an excuse to postpone? I REALLY want to focus on me when it happens and I’m wondering whether I can do that when there’s festivities and family etc in town requiring my attention. Thoughts? Also, is it necessary to lose weight BEFORE the surgery even if Dr. doesn’t say it’s necessary except for the 1 week of liquids before surgery date?? I’m self pay so that may have something to do with requirements. Wondering if I should just not worry about “watching it” around the holidays. It’s very strange how this sudden calm has come over me just knowing what is ahead. It’s like I know the decision is made about “what to do next” and I’m relieved that this wonderful tool is coming my way. I don’t even have the feeling of wanting to overeat……very strange. Kind of like a new car being delivered when you’re driving an old junker ?!
    Thoughts anyone?

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      Debbie, plan your surgery around your health NOT HOLIDAY EATING and choose the date based on when the surgeon of your choice is available. You have your entire life ahead of you and having bariatric surgery is NOT a death sentence for enjoying food and family. No one even cares or notices that I cook and live differently. The food is still delicious and my family is still annoying. YES, it is more difficult having surgery during ‘The Holidays’ but no more than any other time. Cut the chains and just do it. YES, lose weight right before surgery to shrink your liver – this can be done easily by going on Atkins or South Beach diets in the month prior to surgery. FYI, SELF PAYS DO MUCH BETTER SHORT AND LONG TERM WITH BARIATRIC SURGERY. Which says a lot about how we think and the value we place on something we pay for out of our pockets. Join our support group on Facebook, its amazing!!!

    • Penny McDaniel says:

      My son chose the day before Thanksgiving for surgery. He said he didn’t want “permission” to give in to holiday temptations. I have had surgery too so was supportive with holiday meal prep. We both had to lose 50 pounds before surgery to shrink the liver for easier access to the stomach. Good luck. By the way, start eating Be meals now so they come naturally after surgery.

  15. Gadsbynurse says:

    I am 9 days post op and just found this site. I ordered some Pure as i have been struggling with getting enough protein.

  16. maebugstanley612 says:

    My surgery date is at the end of this month. Are there any suggestions for people with Hypoglycemia on how to maintain sugar levels since I won’t be eating very much? I have glucose tablets, but I don’t want to live off of them. I have also requested to join the Facebook group. Thank you.

  17. Maria Ballard says:

    These are great ideas the only one I question is the dried potato flakes…I was told no carbs, potatoes, bread, rice…ect…

    • Susan Maria Leach says:

      Maria, as a first food to be introduced to the newly operated on digestive tract, we are more concerned about foods being very easy to process than with carbs. It’s the only time, it’s a recommended choice. – SML

  18. Roni Kelley says:

    I’m almost 7 months postoperative I have lost 95 lbs so far I take vitamins and I started having sores pop up I thought it was bug bites. Now I’m not sure is it possible to have a reaction to vitamins? Any ideas??

  19. Nikesha J. says:

    I wish I would have found this site 6 weeks ago when I was still in the liquid phase, lol! A lot of good information here! Today I am 7 weeks out and ask myself everyday “ What am I allowed to eat?” Thanks for posting this!

  20. Bonnie B. says:

    So helpful! Excellent! I’m 5 years out and working to lose wt I regained. Lost over 170 lbs, and have gained back 35 lbs. I will be successful. Thanks for your help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.