The *Real* Bariatric Phases after Surgery?

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

July 12, 2023

Get the bariatric recipes and tips YOU need!

Take the Quiz

The *Real* Bariatric Phases after Surgery?


Bariatric Diet Stages aside…a post-op patient explains these phases in the later years

bariatric phases after surgery


Cindy had bariatric surgery 6 years ago and joined BFC Premier Access in late 2022. She consistently shares fantastic insights into our Community and permitted me to share this reflection of hers on bariatric phases after surgery.

Let me say this before I turn the “mic” over. I’m so grateful Cindy found her place here on Bariatric Food Coach. Her positive experience gives me such joy! While I certainly hope to be a helpful source to others, I also believe that everyone finds their path in their way and in their own time.

Whether it’s here with us inside Premier Access, or somewhere else altogether, I am wishing you a journey toward “the living phase” as Cindy describes below! – Steph

Cindy lost 200 pounds after surgery, then found herself in a different phase

Starting now, these words are from Cindy!

First, and most importantly, my observations are based on my personal experience and what has worked for me. Everyone’s experience is different, and you need to follow the advice of professionals who know what they are doing.

Second, I didn’t get to my current way of thinking overnight. It was an evolution over time, and I am still evolving.

I have gone through SEVERAL bariatric phases after surgery:

ONE: The famous honeymoon period (my personal favorite).
I carefully followed the plan as outlined for me, logged faithfully, exercised to the best of my ability, and the weight came off easily. I lost over 200 pounds and was just a few pounds from “normal” weight according to my BMI. This led to my second phase…

TWO: The testing phase.
Can I eat just a few bites of this? Will this bother my stomach? Will this cause me to have dumping syndrome or something close to it? Will any of these things affect my weight loss? I could have used this phase for learning and applying what I learned, but Instead, I kept pushing the limits. Which led to phase 3…

THREE: Eat whatever I want.
This was not a fun phase, but the more I forgot to implement my new bariatric habits, the worse it got. I regained over 70 pounds and felt pretty helpless.

FOUR: The try something else phase.
This phase involved trying other weight loss programs, but I could never lose more than 10 pounds without going off and going right back to bad habits.

FIVE: The next phase I call the “reach out for help but don’t do anything to help myself” phase.
I contacted my bariatric program and asked for help, which they were happy to give. I met with the dietitian and went through a series of pre-surgery classes to refresh my memory. I was feeling closer, but still didn’t feel like I could get started. I needed something concrete.

SIX: Around this same time (reach out for help phase)
I was looking for bariatric recipes and stumbled across Bariatric Food Coach while browsing recipes on the Baritastic app. Honestly, I joined because the monthly price was low and I like to support people who create content for others to use. That was in September of 2022, but I was still just in browsing mode and not willing to commit to change.

SEVEN: Around January 2023 I became an active participant at BFC, and everything changed for me at that point.
The first thing I participated in was the habit refresh, which was exactly the concrete advice I needed to get back on track. I learned that I hadn’t broken anything, and my surgery could still work for me if I let it. I started tracking again and cut out sweets (my main problem area.) I developed an eating plan that worked for me. After a few months of this, the bariatric habits and pillars were strengthened, and I was ready for the next phase.


10 day habit refresh series and tracker


EIGHT: The “after the honeymoon” course.
If you are in the post-honeymoon phase – whether you have regained weight or not – I highly recommend the After the Honeymoon course that Steph developed. It got me thinking about ways to approach eating and weight management that were less restrictive than a count-every-bite approach but were geared more toward living a bariatric-friendly lifestyle.

NINE: The living phase.
This is how I’m thinking about where I am now. I’m learning that I don’t have to be perfect to still be reaching my goals. I’ve given up guilt and shame about anything I eat, and it has decreased my cravings. I don’t expect to be perfect every day, but I do expect that I will take my vitamins, eat enough protein, and drink enough water. Those are my non-negotiables, and everything else just follows that. I’m also learning to trust myself!

It has been a slow evolution (I’m 6 years out from surgery at the end of this month) but it was important for me to go through all of the phases to get to where I am now. It has involved a lot of reflection, and a lot of thinking out loud through my posts on this site (thanks for bearing with me!)

I feel like I’m at the best possible place now, focused on the right things and making continuous progress. I know that everyone goes through different phases at different rates, and wherever you are now is right for you. I’m just really happy I discovered BFC and decided to join in. It has made all of the difference for me.


Can you relate? What “phases” have you experienced?

If you made it this far – we’d love to hear from you! Can you relate to Cindy’s phases?

What phase are you in now? Let us know in the comments :)


More browsing for you…

10-Day Habit Refresh Series

Recipe Library

Premier Access Membership

Video Courses

4 thoughts on “The *Real* Bariatric Phases after Surgery?”

  1. Entering the 7 month post op, I can definitely relate to the testing phase. I feel lucky to have found Steph and BFC fairly early in my weight loss journey as the pillars have been my way of keeping the insanity at bay. Let’s face it- I had been on every “diet” program since I was a teenager and even my mother still battles being overweight at 79 so I am sure both genetics, upbringing, and my own “relationship” with food are factors. (Notice no one ever says their relationship with water or air- 2 other things you need every day).

    I definitely appreciate to hear from those who are further along in their “journey” as I want to learn from them and KNOW that it can be DONE. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Wow… So much truth there. I totally agree with Cindy’s phases! Phase One was my favorite too but I admit I’m currently in Stage Six. I lost 125 and was within 10 lbs of my original goal weight when at my 1 year appointment he lowered it another 25 lbs. It was like a slap in the face but I thought I could easily do it… At that point what was another 25 lbs. I had already lost 125 and it was soooooo easy. I was attending an in person support group at the time and really liked it… But then along came COVID, the meetings stopped, and the weight loss plateaued. They tried virtual meetings and I attended a couple but they’re are do much easier to put off… There’s always something more pressing I my world. Then I slowly started gaining… I’ve put 25 lbs back on and I’m terrified I can’t stop it. I joined BFC because I like what Steph had to say but honestly, I haven’t fully committed yet… I keep saying I will but life keeps getting in the way. I know it’s up to me and I hope I can find Cindy’s determination to get back on track… It sounds do easy on paper… But then life comes knocking again. It’s so frustrating.

  3. This is a great read and I can totally relate!! I’m 2 years out and on phase two! I need to go back to phase one or skip the gain weight phase and get to phase ten .

  4. I’m 10 years out and in total disillusion phase and am getting it reversed. I’m one of the unlucky ones that it has made me sicker due to malabsorbtion. I have been through all these phases (and a few inbetween lol) but only realized that I never ‘fell off the wagon’ so to speak, I’ve been near religious in how I eat and I never had any issues with my eating before. I always ate healthy, but the bariatric staff always accused me of lying. I was 130 pounds at 5’9 now that is thin! And suddenly as I started taking more and more prescription medications and living a life with undiagnosed primary lymphedema and lipedema and the weight was just packing on, but never once did I ever eat unhealthy. I hated fast food and “junk food” never made me feel good eating it. I was super mega active with horseback riding, barrel racing, mountain climbing, hiking, I’d walk and climb over 5 miles a day, i did cross country skiing, gardening, I was an avid photography, I only went indoors in the worst of the weather lol.
    So to suddenly have this happening to me, and to be fat shamed every step of the way was maddening!! Then to go through and get the surgery done and follow everything they told me to do and to still have violent dumping syndrome (I can’t heave I have attacks that are just like reactive hypoglycemia but my blood sugar never changes) even from drinking water-what was going on, but they still to my face accused me of eating white bread, pasta, rice, fast food etc. I screamed at the little punk PA that thought he could fat shame me into compliance.
    I’m just putting this out there, because I did everything beyond the book, I’ve done hundreds of hours of research into this, and I realized that with my blood work numbers showing how bad it’s getting and my overall health so bad because just look up what lack of the B vitamins will do, look up what lack of D3 and to find out that most meds are synthetic and do not absorb well if at all for a gastric bypass… no one ever told me that. I found it out on my own.
    Be safe, do not blame yourself, it is a journey. If you do find yourself eating wrong or going for the wrong foods, ask yourself for an honest answer of WHY am I doing this? DO I have situations in my life or am I lacking vitamins and minerals and my body wants something unhealthy because it can’t translate it’s needs into healthy foods. If you crave crunchy foods find out what causes that and try and eat the healthy alternative that will give your body what it needs.
    I found out on my own that I was craving sour cream to near pregnancy level of need because I don’t make the gastric acid I need, and my body somehow knew that sour cream would provide this. I have to take lactaid as my gastric bypass makes me so sick from the carbs in any dairy I wanna go bonkers but I started eating more sour cream and sauerkraut and the needs went away and I was actually able to start having normal BMs again!! Who knew that gastric juices help you poo? Not me.

Leave a Reply

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