Bariatrics and Weight Loss

Diet do’s and don’ts before bariatric surgery

Diet Do’s and Don’ts before Bariatric Surgery


By Rita Daou, registered dietitian for Northern Dutchess Hospital’s General and Bariatric Surgery

Making the decision to undergo bariatric surgery is a big step in reaching our wellness goals. Our team of weight-loss specialists are here to help you understand how to best manage your health long ahead of your procedure. 

Making lifestyle changes, especially those related to diet, is crucial before your procedure. Once you begin your journey to weight loss, proper nutrition and eating habits play a critical role to support a strong recovery.

Below are tips to help you prepare for the next steps on your weight-loss journey.

Part I — Wholesome Foods

Before and after surgery, consider adding some of these nutrient-dense foods into your diet on a regular basis. Be mindful of portion sizes and consider incorporating light exercise, such as walking, into your routine.


  • A high source of fiber
  • Strawberries, blueberries, apples, oranges, pears, cherries and bananas


  • Spinach, kale, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower
  • Start with a minimum of three servings of non-starch vegetables each day before building up to five daily servings. 
  • Incorporate mushrooms, tomatoes and onions into your egg breakfasts.
  • Cucumber slices and hummus or celery and carrots make for a great afternoon snack after a lunchtime salad.

Lean protein 

  • Salmon, tuna, chicken and ground turkey.

Healthy fats

  • Avocado or olive oil, unsalted nuts and seeds, avocados and olives. 
  • Olive oil is a great alternative to vegetable oil or animal fats such as butter.

Whole grains

  • Brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain bread

Part II — Two Weeks Before Surgery

Fourteen days prior to your procedure, our team will prepare you to begin a liquid diet to help reduce fat stored in your liver. This will reduce the risk of damage to the organ, which resides near your stomach.

  • We recommend 64 ounces or more of clear, sugar- and caffeine-free liquids, such as bone broth, Gatorade Zero, Powerade Zero, and sugar-free Jell-o and popsicles.
  • Avoid coffee, caffeinated tea, juice and alcohol.

It is important that you also maintain your protein intake in addition to consuming 64 ounces of liquid each day. Make sure to aim for 60-80 grams of protein during this period, which you can achieve through homemade protein shakes.

  • Per serving, look for pre-made protein beverages with 0-5 grams of carbohydrates and 20-30 grams of protein. 
  • If making your shake using protein powder, add one scoop with 8-10 ounces of milk, such as 1% dairy milk or unsweetened almond, cashew, soy or flaxseed milk.

Part III — Post-Surgery

Next in your journey, we’ll ask you to avoid drinking fluids, specifically during your mealtime and 30 minutes after eating. 


Adding fluids to the body too quickly after surgery can cause you to feel fuller quicker and can stretch the delicate stomach. While that may seem helpful, it’s important to introduce small portions of nutrient-dense foods to the body to support recovery.

  • When you resume eating whole foods, eat slowly and chew food thoroughly. Make a goal to chew your food 32 times per bite! 
  • After surgery, take time to enjoy your meals over a 20- to 30-minute period.
  • Setting down your utensils in between bites can promote controlled eating.

Finally, be sure to stop eating when you begin to feel full. Remember, you can always save leftover food for your next meal.


If you have additional questions about bariatric surgery services at Northern Dutchess Hospital, contact the office at (845) 871-4275 (TTY/accessibility (800) 421-1220).