What Can I Eat? 4 WLS Stages Food Planning – LAWLS

If you are considering having Weight Loss Surgery and are afraid you’ll never eat again OR eat the food you love, no worries. Eventually you will be able to eat pretty much whatever you want. But that’s not why we’re here today. Besides, after you go through the hard work of losing all that weight and getting into shape, why would you ever go back to old ways?

Well. It happens. But I’m here to tell you that if you want to be successful in your new life journey, you’ll want need to have some food planning under your belt. Food is important. And we need it to survive. We just need to be in the right head space and remember that we are eating to live, not living to eat.

Related: learn your WLS abbreviations here!

And what can you eat? I’m going to share with you the 4 WLS Food Stages (as I know them) so that it may help you eat only what you need while keeping you satisfied along the way!


4 WLS Stages Food Planning

Stage 1 – Pre-op Diet:

This stage 1 diet actually happens before your weight loss surgery and is pretty darn important if you want your liver to shrink a bit before surgery (helpful for the surgeon navigating your innards). It may also help you lose a few more pounds before surgery, too. #BONUS

It is recommended that you eat every 3 to 4 hours to help manage your hunger at this stage. You may enjoy:

  • Breakfast: Protein Shake
  • Snack: Unlimited Veggies, keeping in mind to stay low carb – broccoli, peppers, celery, tomatoes, etc.
  • Lunch: Healthy Frozen Meal or Protein Shake (my favorite frozen meal throughout has been Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Fajita Taquitos – so darn GOOD)
  • Snack: More VEGGIES – Yum!
  • Dinner: Frozen Meal or Protein Shake
  • Snack: Protein Shake or Veggies

You can switch it up and forget the frozen meals if you prefer to cook. Split 6 oz. of meat between two meals, add some starch (rice, pasta, or potatoes, etc.), and don’t forget your veggies.

What I did? The shakes and frozen meals with unlimited veggies. It was easy to live with and filled me up fabulously throughout the day.

My favorite protein shakes? Vanilla and chocolate – the Hannaford’s brand. Just make sure you are keeping your calories low and your protein high with all meals. This stage is recommended for up to 2 weeks before surgery.

Stage 2 – Week One and Week Two:

Food - Protein ShakesThis stage is for right after surgery and you should stay here for at least the first week, if not two (or until you visit  your surgeon and/or PCP for your follow-up appointment). It’s blended or smooth and so darn easy to do – best for you because you are just recovering from major surgery, no matter who may tell you this WLS was “elective”. Your blended or smooth food should be just that – no chunks or lumps or pieces of food.

Here are five examples of what you may eat at this stage 2: 

  • Protein Shakes
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Refried Beans
  • Soup (clear broth, blended chilis or stews)
  • Low-fat Shredded Cheese (melted)

Don’t forget to get your protein in (60-70 grams) and your fluids (64 oz). You may count your protein shakes toward your total fluid intake but be careful to get all your fluids. As you transition to stage 3 you want to make sure you are getting your fluids in and your protein is eaten (or drunk) first. Keep your foods moist at this smooth foods stage and stop eating when you are full. The most you should be eating here is around 1-2 tablespoons per meal.

Stage 3 – Weeks 3 – 6

Food - Soft Boiled EggsYou may graduate to around a 1/4 of a cup of food in this stage and here is where the fun begins. How to get in all your protein (and fluids) while making sure to have a variety of foods to choose from. You can still eat foods from the previous stages; however, this soft food stage offers a lot more for you to eat.

Here are five examples:

  • Block Cheese (cut into cubes and so good to suck on –  yep, it is)
  • Chicken or Tuna (canned or pouch)
  • Ground Chicken or Turkey (I actually have turkey burgers that can be split into 3 separate meals, per burger)
  • Deli Turkey (ask for all natural and you will get turkey that tastes like it’s right off the bird)
  • Soft-boiled Eggs*

Make sure to only be eating 1/4 cup of anything at each meal and to get your protein in, first. Remember that you need 60-70 grams of protein daily, you may want to supplement this stage with protein shakes. Don’t force yourself to finish a meal and don’t eat for longer than 30 minutes at a time (called grazing and one of the bad habits we don’t need hanging around).

Stage 4 – 7 Weeks and Forever After

Food - High Protein

This is the SOLID FOOD stage and so YUM to be here. You’ll want to slowly add foods, depending on texture and be sure to chew everything very well. Limit your fats and stick to 6 grams or less of sugar per serving. Think low-carb – high-protein and you will manage this quite well.

Here are 5 examples: 

  • Chicken or Turkey Breast
  • Fish (pretty much any kind)
  • Well Cooked Veggies (you won’t want to try raw fruits and veggies until you are about 3 months out)
  • Lean Beef
  • ALL stage 2 and 3 foods (smooth and soft)

Food - Soft Veggies

Remember, you don’t want to be eating more than about 1/2 a cup total, per meal and make sure your dietician or nutritionist is aware of your food planning. Also? Add food in slowly. Remember, you are like a baby in many respects (why we call Surgery Day a RE-birth) and may not be able to tolerate everything right out of the gate.

Keep in mind that you will continue to need 60-70 grams of protein and 64 oz. of fluids daily to ensure your success in losing weight with your new tool.

Related: What type of WLS did I have? 

After the first year or so, you will be able to eat a lot more than is listed above. It will then be up to you to continue making smart and healthy food choices. Your weight loss tool will aid greatly in your success the first year, but if you go back to old habits, you will find yourself right back where you started. No one should waste this brilliant opportunity given us, but it happens. Be sure to have a good support network in place and you should not fail.

You should also note: EVERY weight loss program does things a little differently. There is a LOT of information out there and a LOT MORE misinformation. If you are unsure what to do regarding food (or anything else) at any point, you should contact your PCP, dietitian, or nutritionist. These folks are schooled in the ways to help you succeed. Utilize them and often to stay on the smart track.

Here is to our continued success and life after weight loss surgery (LAWLS)!

For your health and mine,





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*Soft-boiled Eggs: thanks to Tina @The Gluten-Foodsmith for schooling me on how to cook these, softly: Eggs go into the water (cold), bring to boil, set timer for 3 minutes, take them off the heat and out of the pot! YAY!

Stay tuned in June: We are giving away another Fitbit Flex and other AWEsome prizes. The more who enter, the bigger the prizes. YAY!

Need healthy breakfast options? Try one or more of these!

What is your favorite way to get all your protein in daily?




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