Weight loss surgery drastically decreases the volume of food and liquid that the stomach can hold at any given time. It also alters the way that hormones and signals go from the stomach to the brain, signalling for hunger or fullness. Soon after surgery, weight loss is usually very rapid, slowing down after the first 6 months. This is because those signalling hormones are changing. Long-term, healthy lifestyle changes are what carries the weight loss on after this quick weight loss “window” straight after surgery.
So how much should be eaten after weight loss surgery?
Portion sizes change at different points after weight loss surgery. Initially after surgery, the stomach is healing and the hormones signalling fullness are heightened. As time goes on the body heals and the signals change meaning portion sizes increase slightly.
When solid foods are allowed, ¼ of a cup per meal is recommended. This will be until around the 3-month point. After 6 months, portion sizes will be approximately ½ cup per meal, and at around 12 months, 1 cup is recommended per mealtime. Your dietitian will guide you on what is right for you during this time, as it can be different from person to person, or mealtime to mealtime. If you are less hungry at breakfast and opt for a smaller meal, that’s okay. It is also about mindfully eating, checking in on your hunger, and knowing what your body needs.
Longer-term, it is still very important to keep on top of your portions. The hormonal signals that make you feel full will decrease, meaning you it will be POSSIBLE for some people to eat much more than 1 cup of food, however this is NOT RECOMMEDED. Pushing your body to eat more will result in weight regain.
Sometimes old habits/behaviours creep in and over-eating at meal times can become an issue. If you feel like this has happened to you, try reverting back to smaller plates and bowls to promote smaller portions. If this doesn’t help, check in with your dietitian or surgeon to discuss strategies, such as foods that can keep you feeling fuller for longer.