The Challenge – Portion Control Tips after Bariatric Surgery

You have had Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery, now what? 

One of your next big challenges is learning portion control.  You will systematically measure out your food for each meal, use one of the new measuring containers or serving ware available, or get really good at eyeballing what the portion size should be.  The last is really hard to do for any of us since the typical American diet is not anywhere near a correct portion size.  It is something we could all stand to learn – surgery or not. 

Here are a few tips to get you started on your learning journey.  Your physician will give you information through your process and you will likely receive a set of measuring cups after you surgery to help measure out the food you should be consuming at each meal. 

Food portion:  4 oz. of food. 
Your physician will direct you when it is safe to move to more solid foods after surgery.  When you start eating more solid food your meals should consist of no more than 4 oz. of food at each meal.  Your new measuring cups will help you measure out exactly 4 oz.  This sounds relatively simple but most people have tended to over-fill the cup because they are not sure how to visualize “enough.”  How much is 4 oz. of food anyway?  For example a serving of meat or fish will be the size of a deck of cards.  Visualize a domino piece, which will be your one oz. serving of cheese.  You could also purchase a small scale to weigh your food.

Poriton Control Sizes Source:

Photo source:

Why is the measurement so critical?  If you don’t measure out your food correctly many bariatric patients will experience a “dumping” after eating.  This means you may vomit from eating too much and the pouch fills to overflow and the extra has to come out. This may happen frequently until you get used to the portions.  Certain foods may also trigger this especially those high in sugar or fat.  Be sure to ask the doctor what foods to avoid especially at first.

Tools that have been designed to help you measure your food:

  1. Diet dinnerware:
  2. Portion control bowls:
  3. The diet plate:
  4. Bariware:

Eating tips: 

  1. Take a small portion of food and serve it on a small plate/bowl.
  2. Sit down at the table.
  3. Sit down and focus on what you are eating.  (Avoid eating while standing, driving, or working. Avoid engaging in other activities at the same time that might cause you to become distracted, such as watching TV, reading, or using an electronic device.)
  4. Take small bites, chew thoroughly, and avoid overeating or eating too quickly.
  5. Cut food in small, pea size bites. Read why
  6. Eat slowly.  Take a bite with a child size or baby size utensil and chew 25-30 times.
  7. Allow 30-60 minutes for each meal.
  8. Allow 1-2 minutes between bites.
  9. Allow 10 minutes to finish every 1 oz. of food
  10. Pause. Really pause.
  11. Repeat.
  12. Only continue eating until you feel a slight pressure in your chest.
  13. Stop eating.

Foods to avoid:

  1. High calorie foods:  desserts made with sugar or fat, fried foods, many fruit juices, full-fat dairy products, milkshakes, candy and pastries.  Read more:
  2. Foods that are difficult to digest: pasta, rice, fibrous vegetables, soft bread and tough meat, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, popcorn  Read more:
  3. Certain beverages:  Most patients receive instructions to avoid consuming caffeinated, carbonated and alcoholic beverages.  Read more:

Take Your Supplements!

Be sure to always take your recommended vitamin and mineral supplements. Because a portion of your small intestine is bypassed after surgery, your body won’t be able to absorb enough nutrients from your food. Talk to your doctor and nutritionist to find out what supplements you will need to take probably for the rest of your life such as multivitamin and calcium.  The ASMBS offers guidelines for how much you will need for each type of surgery.  Liquid supplements are a great alternative as they absorb easily and do not need to be digested in the stomach. 

You too the biggest step and had surgery so now make sure to use these suggestions and those of your physician and support groups to heart to take the next steps that are necessary for success.  If you are used to inhaling your food or mindlessly eating you will need to re-program your eating behavior to make sure you set yourself up for success after your surgery.  Set yourself a nice pleasing table, set down and relax and stop eating as soon as you feel full to avoid getting sick. 

Feel proud as you see the pounds melt away and know you are setting yourself up for a healthy lifestyle with your commitment to a healthy eating pattern. Don’t worry if you have a few setbacks – that is normal.  Join a support group either in person or online like or webinars to help you get back on track.  Or attend a great event such as the upcoming WLSFA Meet and Greet in May in Vegas and meet Carnie Wilson!


WLSFA Meet and Greet with Carnie Wilson in May in Las Vegas

Featured Speaker Carnie Wilson, Sponsored by Wellesse Liquid Supplements!