Leah Rocks a Whole Food Plant Based Diet After Her Weight Loss Surgery

Leah Rocks a whole food plant based diet after weight loss surgery

The internet is awesome for lots of reasons.

Cat videos. Kitten videos. More kitten videos.

And literally anything you could ever want to know. On the one hand, this is fabulous because it makes learning so easy. On the other hand, developing a keen eye for bullshit clickbait and articles that aren’t properly researched or that have hidden agendas is 100% necessary. This is especially true regarding food and the best way to keep your beautiful bod happy, healthy, and full of zest.

When you research the healthiest way to eat online, it’s crucial that you dig deep, keep searching, hone your inner skepticism, be objective, look at all angles, follow the research, ask questions, and then be prepared to follow the rabbit hole. Chances are, that rabbit hole will shift your mindset and change your life for the better in a way that you never expected.

Such is the case for badass Dirty Girl Leah Dardis, who graciously shared her inspiring story with me for all of our readers. Leah had weight loss surgery a while back.

Eating a Plant Based Diet After Weight Loss Surgery

In the weight loss surgery community, following a plant based diet is totally unheard of and greatly advised against.


Most weight loss doctors tell their patients that eating a plant based diet is inadequate for post-operative nutrition and that only a meat-heavy diet can supply the nutrients needed.

It’s animal protein city or risk of death from malnutrition. After eating meat for every meal in the months following her surgery, Leah’s body gave her signs that something wasn’t right. And she wisely listened. She started searching for answers. She started digging. She went down the rabbit hole. And that rabbit hole led her to Clean Food Dirty Girl and our meal plans.

Leah defied the fearful cautions from her doctor and from social media support groups about getting her protein from plants, and she is now thriving and healthier than ever, as is her partner.

I hope you enjoy Leah’s story about her quest for health as much as I did. It was an honor to talk with her, and I admire her honesty, her steadfastness, and her bravery in going against the grain and finding her own answers.

In this video, Leah and I talk about how her bouts of vomiting post-surgery went away as soon as she removed the meat from her diet. How letting go of counting calories and macronutrients have freed her to focus on living her life rather than “managing a diet.” How she is thriving on the very foods that her doctors warned against. And how she still enjoys her comfort foods.

We also chatted about how her partner’s Rheumatoid Arthritis dramatically improved once he started following the meal plans and eliminated meat from his diet.

This is a must-watch video for everyone. And if you know someone who has had weight loss surgery and is struggling, please, please share this with them.

Leah, thank you for sharing your story. You are a true badass, and you have my total respect.

If you want a solid read from a weight loss surgeon who used to recommend a meat-heavy diet and now recommends a Whole Food Plant Based diet, Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis is a must-read!

Do you have a weight loss surgery story to share? Hit me up in the comments below.

Bounce over here to learn more about our plant based meal plans (the same ones Leah uses) and everything else we offer in Plant Fueled Life.

Wishing you a lovely week. May it be filled with creating your own life-changing rabbit hole.


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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Shelley on October 28, 2017 at 10:32 am

    I had lap band surgery in 2011. I went from 230 to 180 in the course of 2 years. I started plant based about 4 months ago and was worried about the whole protein thing. My weight loss doctor didn’t shoot wfpb down but stressed all the essential amino acids. My protein levels were fine in my blood work. I have to eat small portions, chew well and eat slowly just like before. I ate very little meat after lap band because I count tolerate that stuck feeling. Wfpb was an easy transition for the most part. Miss goid quality cheese but I’m working on it. ☺

    • Molly Patrick on October 28, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Thanks for sharing Shelley!
      Sending you lots of love on your journey.

  2. Melynda on October 28, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    “In the weight loss surgery community, following a plant based diet is totally unheard of and greatly advised against.” Not entirely true. Garth Davis, MD, is a bariatric surgeon who recommends a plant-based diet. Check out his book: Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It.

    The recipe sounds yummy!

    • Molly Patrick on October 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Hi Melynda,

      I’m super familiar with Garth Davis and I loved Proteinaholic.
      I updated the post with a note about Dr. Davis and his book.
      Thanks for reaching out!

  3. Joyce B Davidson on October 28, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    i enjoyed listening to your story Leah. Just wondering what type of weight loss surgery you had, and also where can I find the pumpkin tamale recipie. thanks!!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on October 30, 2017 at 6:02 am

      Hi Joyce,

      The type of weight loss surgery was vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

      Team Dirty Girl

  4. Stacy on October 31, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I just want to cry. I am not alone. The last few minutes of this video really hit me hard. Thank you so much for touching on addiction and struggling. It’s been 27 years and I still think about having a drink and a cigarette when I’m upset. I have been on many diets, too many. Finally, I realized that I was living the definition of insanity over and over. My mother mentioned WFPB eating. My husband was willing. I feel great. It’s only been one month. I am enjoying this way of eating. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Failing is ingrained in my “diet” mentality. But I love this way of living.

    • Meghann Milton on October 31, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Hi Stacy! You are most definitely not alone, and we love to hear about awesome peeps like yourself who are feeling the amazing benefits of a whole food plant based diet for themselves. It will get even better as time goes on. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Team Dirty Girl

  5. Jenell on November 6, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    A coworker directed me to this website, and this particular interview. After battling weight issues for 20 years, I got a vertical sleeve in mid-2016. I was vegetarian for two years prior to that, and a few months after surgery, I got into eating meat because I was craving it. I have to wonder if that was because my food intake became so restricted after surgery. I felt good for a while, but now my body is feeling blah from eating meat. I’m so glad I listened to this interview, because everything that Leah is saying I can identify with. She had the same worries that I had, and yet she’s perfectly healthy. I’m can’t wait to try the meal plans.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on November 7, 2017 at 6:51 am

      Hi Jenell,

      That coworker is awesome! Thanks for visiting and checking out Molly’s interview with Leah and for letting us know that it gives you some hope to get back to a plant-focused lifestyle. Feel free to join us over in the private Facebook group to connect with others on their plant-based journeys using our meal plans (you don’t have to be a subscriber to join).

      Team Dirty Girl

  6. Deb on December 1, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    So happy to hear from Leah and her experience with WFPB after weight loss surgery! I had gastric bypass surgery 7 years ago and I have gained more than half my weight back. I’ve been worried about the protein thing but I believe this is the healthiest way to eat. Just signed up this week for Molly’s meal plans, so excited to get started on this journey!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on December 3, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Deb,

      Welcome to the Meal Plans! Reach out to us at [email protected] if there is anything we can help you with as you get started!

      Team Dirty Girl

  7. Jenn on February 6, 2019 at 8:49 am

    5 stars
    I am so glad to have heard Leah talk. I am having weight loss surgery in april 2019. I totally understand what you’re saying about meat meat meat from the nutritionist. Mine is telling me the same things. I also decided to go whole foods but I’m not telling the so called experts at my weight loss clinic. I did order pea and soy and pumpkin protein powders. And also some vegan whole food meal replacement drink to take right after surgery. What sucks is that the clinic I go to actually requires all patients to sign a paper saying they will comply with all nutritional requirements. I want the surgery so I signed the paper. I am going to make veggie broth instead of bone broth (gag).. Anyway, I am so glad to have found this video. It expresses and talks about every single concern I had regarding meat meat meat… thank you, Jenn

    • Molly Patrick on February 6, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Hi Jenn,
      I am so happy you found this talk useful!
      Best of luck to you and do keep us posted.

  8. Stacy on September 10, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    Leah- In 2009 weighing 286 I had weight loss surgery a MGB with Dr Rutlidge in Las Vegas. Fast forward to May 2019 I was in top shape, weighed 118, enjoyed eating full meals, yes I could eat as much as anyone at the table and was sporting a svelte body as I had plastic surgery October 2018 – a lower body lift and a thigh lift. It was 6 months post surgery and I had trained to do the volunteer work I do in the high Andes of Peru that requires me to hike from village to village often 8 hours of hiking at altitudes 11,000 – 16,000 feet. Since ten years had passed and I had taken some Advil on occasion when someone suggested that we take Advil to combat the altitude I thought why not. A BAD IDEA it turns out. We summited our last pass and I was feeling bad ass after spending 10 days in rough conditions in the mountains. A successful expedition.

    Well the stomach pains began a couple days later in Cusco and I ended up in the hospital for a few days in Peru and then limped home. Thirty days later 3 more US hospitals, life flights, 27 Doctors wondering what was up, why I was in so much pain and my abdomen was filling up with fluids!! They took out 17 liters of fluids in an array of procedures and I was still filling up with fluids with no diagnosis in sight. My family, doctors and I knew my outcome was uncertain. Finally on the eve of going in for exploratory surgery one doctor had an idea and with a few tests they discovered an oddly presenting perforated ulcer on my duodenum with a big ass HOLE. Now sporting an incision from breastbone to pubic bone I am on the recovery ……. the slow recovery.

    To my issue- Now I am really underweight a new dimension in my body’s story and my low was 94 lbs and today I weighed in at 98 lbs. So I am in danger of being one flu away from death at this weight and this is after two months of recovery trying to recover build strength and gain weight. At least my mind is back as I really had to shut down during the month of June. The protein train has been the recommendation. I am not eating just meat I’ve been hitting 2300-2600 calories a day over the past week with 14%-20% protein.

    My husband is a preachy vegan and eats rice beans and greens for almost every meal. Really it is not appealing to me not to mention it just doesn’t often sit well. I just don’t digest greens well. We have been fighting a bit about what I should eat. I know he has my best interest at heart but I am so confused as to what to eat as my anatomy is different from others. I am afraid that if I let up I will loose more weight which puts me at risk. That seems to be a common statement that people say when they transition to Vegan- “Oh and I lost weight to boot”. I did contact my surgeon’s assistant yesterday and she said that a revision may be in the cards for me. That’s a whole other thing to consider and frankly scares me as much as being too thin.

    It is a very controversial subject for me as to what I should eat. Protein drinks with ice cream and nut butters seem to be one big recommendation along with calories, calories, calories not forgetting to eat lots of protein. I am experiencing a lot of gas which is beyond painful. I am a little bit encouraged gaining 4 lbs but I yearn for 118, not being in pain, and getting back to my usual active self.

    Your thoughts?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on September 11, 2019 at 11:56 am

      Hi Stacy, I cannot speak for Leah but reading your journey I feel for you. I’m glad you are ok right now after pulling through that ordeal.

      It doesn’t sound like you are vegan or whole food plant based (there is a difference) but it seems like you are considering changing what you eat (out of pressure to do so, which is the worst way to help someone want to change the way they eat) and are unsure. If you are having lots of digestive issues eating the way you are, it’s completely reasonable to try something different to see if you can alleviate those issues. Rice, beans and greens that your husband enjoys are definitely basic whole food plant based staples. Our Meal Plans take basic staples to gourmet (if you are willing to put in the time to cook) with a regular change of flavors and textures, so the food might be more appetizing to you – we have many free recipes on the blog to try and a free Sample Meal Plan you can request by scrolling to the middle of this page to look for the blue button that says “Hook me up with a free meal plan”.

      This being said, the meal plans are not designed to help people gain or lose weight or treat disease. Some people gain weight eating our meal plans and others lose. Regardless, you have special considerations. Because eating a whole food plant based dietary pattern tends to be lower in calorie density overall it would be critical for you to plan if you decided to try eating a diet based around whole plant foods because of your need to gain weight combined with malabsorption considerations from the MGB – both notable differences from Leah’s experience. And, if you are not used to eating lots of fibrous foods, the adjustment period can take time and is something to consider given you are already dealing with gas.

      You might want to check out the book Proteinaholic, written by Dr. Garth Davis, a bariatric surgeon, that Leah mentions in the video and another commenter mentions too. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian that specializes in digestive disorders and/or weight management that can take into consideration your unique medical history and guide you as safely as possible. It’s important that you get good advice.

      If you follow a whole food plant based lifestyle, the most calorie dense foods are avocado, olives, coconut, nuts, seeds (and their respective butters). So, yes, nut butters are a high calorie recommendation. It’s also possible to pack in calories with dried fruits and whole grains. The reality may be that, for the immediate future, you need more calorie density to bring your weight up than you could physically eat if you just stick to whole plant foods. There is nothing wrong with this.

      Our private Facebook group is a place for support and motivation to eat more plants – even if you have no intention of becoming an exclusive herbivore. You are welcome to join us!

      Wishing you good health and guidance.


  9. MELISSA HEADRICK on November 10, 2019 at 7:25 am

    Thank you for this interview. I’m 2 weeks away from wls and looking into plant based eating so this was helpful.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on November 10, 2019 at 8:26 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Melissa!

      We welcome you to join our super supportive and motivational Facebook community. Molly recently published a post all about it. We make plant fueled meal plans that help people have a blueprint to make their food each week. At that link, there’s a grey box where you can request our free Trial Plan.

      As I’m sure you know, you will have special dietary guidelines prescribed following the surgery. Definitely talk to your doctor and dietitian so they can guide you to incorporate more plants within those guidelines.

      Since you are new to whole food plant based eating, this post might also be really helpful to you. ~Karen

  10. Leah Dardis on August 29, 2022 at 3:28 am

    A fan girl letter to Molly and Luanne,
    In 2016, I subscribed to the plans and it changed me. While I am not a current subscriber, 5 years of knowledge and recipes to revisit, I am eternally grateful for this kindness that they have shown the world. They live their values out loud and have inspired me to realign my career to do the same. Thank you for making me a Dirty Girl.

    Leah Dardis

    • Stephanie from Team Dirty on August 29, 2022 at 9:02 am

      Aw, Leah!

      We’re so happy to hear that things are going well for you. I’ll make sure Molly and Luanne see your sweet comment.


  11. Myree on March 27, 2024 at 10:06 am

    I had RNY Gastric Bypass Surgery 10/08/2014. I also have health issues starting with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which is getting more difficult to manage and my doctor thinks it’s because of absorption issues.I was 335 lbs when I had surgery and struggled to get under 235 lbs until I had a functional medicine doctor put me on Naturally Desicated Thyroid Hormone and recommended South Beach Keto as a diet which I didn’t follow closely but got down to 175 lbs.

    I have been struggling lately with nausea and am having alot of difficulty eating meat especially red meat and my hair is thinning dramatically so this is giving me hope that I can still be healthy if I don’t eat meat!

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