Think Twice Before Cheating on Your Gastric Sleeve Pre Op Diet

Written by Bryee Shepard, MS, RD and medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Boyce, MD

Managing your weight has been a long and winding road. But here you are, getting ready to undergo gastric sleeve surgery. This is going to change your life and afford you the comfort and health you’ve always wanted.

As you gear up for the surgery, you’ll be placed on a preoperative diet to prepare your body for what’s to come. Strictly adhering to the gastric sleeve pre-op diet may come with challenges, but this article will equip you to handle them.

What is the gastric sleeve pre-op diet?

The Gastric Sleeve pre-op diet is designed for optimum weight loss and liver size reduction within a short time frame, usually 2-4 weeks. It is:

A few days before the surgery, your doctor will put you on a clear liquids diet to completely empty your stomach contents.

two weeks before gastric sleeve surgery

Why is a gastric sleeve pre-op diet necessary?

A preoperative weight loss diet is necessary to:

Now, let’s delve into what leads up to gastric sleeve pre-op diet cheating and how to overcome barriers to success.

How long is the gastric sleeve pre-op diet?

Recommendations for the duration of the gastric sleeve pre-op diet vary from practice to practice, surgeon to surgeon, dietitian to dietitian…etc.

In our practice, the duration of the pre-op bariatric diet depends on your individual BMI. See the below chart to decide which duration best suits you. For help finding your BMI use this calculator:

  • BMI < 38: Exempt from the diet, but you will follow the 2 days of liquids prior to surgery*
  • BMI 38 – 39.9: One Week
  • BMI 40 – 44.9: Two Weeks
  • BMI 50 – 49.9: Three Weeks
  • BMI > 50: Four Weeks

*These recommendations can vary from practice to practice, surgeon to surgeon…etc. but this is very close to what you can expect.

So at the very longest, you’re looking at four weeks to improve your bariatric surgery outcome. A small price to pay.

Why patients cheat on the pre-op diet

Before we can even think about making long term changes to our behavior, we have to look closely at the barriers that keep us from succeeding. Once you have many of the barriers out of the way, you prevent cheating on your gastric sleeve pre-op diet to begin with. Common roadblocks are:

Not having the support we need

When friends and family aren’t around or offering support as you take on this journey, it can feel quite isolating.

Research shows that people who don’t feel supported may even have lower success rates after surgery. Take steps to surround yourself with supportive people who will offer a listening ear or be there for you when you need it.

  • Reach out to friends and family and ask for support
  • Ask your bariatric surgeon’s office if they can provide you with a local support group
  • Search for bariatric surgery support groups on social media

The important thing is that you create a solid support system so you don’t feel alone on this path.

Success after gastric sleeve is better with support

Lack of knowledge

Have you ever heard the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know”? Research suggests that nutrition education is essential to long term success. Therefore it’s imperative to arm yourself with knowledge.

  • Be sure to understand your pre-op diet before getting started
  • Bring a pen and paper to your doctor’s visits
  • Keep an ongoing list of questions to bring with you to each visit

Maybe we don’t even know why we are on a gastric sleeve pre-op diet or what the consequences are of cheating. So let’s review.

The gastric sleeve preoperative diet is intended to allow the patient to lose weight and place them in a healthier state in order to undergo surgery more safely and recover more efficiently. If the patient doesn’t follow the diet, they risk further surgical complications and more difficult recovery.


Cravings are real, and they can get the best of us. Take charge of cravings by knowing your triggers and avoiding them. For example, when a fast-food commercial comes on with a juicy cheeseburger and milkshake, you may feel triggered to hit the drive-thru.

  • Take a moment and think about what triggers you have. Is it walking through the cafeteria at lunchtime, or going into a movie theater and smelling that buttery popcorn?
  • Consider the consequences of giving in to the (potentially very strong) cravings.
  • Once you have determined your food triggers, you can begin to avoid them. Maybe you’ll switch channels when commercials come on or enjoy your lunch outside instead.
Cheating on gastric sleeve pre op diet process flow


This is a big one. Motivation drives us in everything that we do. When it comes to weight loss and undergoing a healthy diet, we must examine our motivation. This can also be referred to as your “why.” Why do you want to lose weight and become healthier? Is it to live longer? To be healthier?

  1. Determine your “why. ”Be specific, and write it down in a place where you will see it regularly.
  2. Once you have determined your “why,” hold onto it in moments of weakness.
whats your why after gastric sleeve surgery

Taking advantage of your “last chance”

Another common reason people cheat on their gastric sleeve pre-op diet is that they feel as though it’s their last chance to indulge in high calorie or decadent foods, and will binge on high-calorie foods.

Bingeing episodes are linked to lower gastric sleeve success rates. Cheating on your pre-op diet can derail your health, possibly even postpone your surgery, and delay your recovery. It is also important to remember that eventually, you will be able to eat some treat foods in small quantities. This is not your last chance.

“Too late, I already cheated”

All right, so you’re getting ready for your gastric sleeve procedure and you’ve cheated on your pre-op diet. It’s not the end of the world, and you didn’t blow it.

Just stand up, dust yourself off, and get right back on track. Give yourself grace and remember that taking a step backward is often part of the process. Consistency is key, so aim to adhere to the pre-op diet from this point on for optimum results.

So when you are thinking about cheating on your gastric sleeve pre-op diet, remember that your lifestyle change starts now, not on surgery day. This is your time and you are worth it. With knowledge and support on your side, you’ve got this!

The bottom line: Don’t cheat on your gastric sleeve pre-op diet

So if you are thinking about cheating on your gastric sleeve pre-op diet, remember that your lifestyle change starts now, not on surgery day. Take steps to prevent cheating and help you to stay the course:

  • Create your support system through friends, family, and support groups
  • Arm yourself with knowledge by researching your surgery and keeping lists of questions to bring to your doctor appointments
  • Determine your motivation through your, “why,” and don’t let it go
  • Manage cravings by learning your triggers, avoiding them, and having healthy food at your fingertips to stave off hunger
Factors that lead to success after gastric sleeve surgery

Take the guesswork out of your gastric sleeve pre-op diet and reduce the urge to cheat with Barilife’s Bariatric Pre Op Diet Bundle, tailored to your needs with a one, two, three, or four week supply.


This is your time and you are worth it. With support, knowledge, and motivation on your side, you’ve got this!


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