Post Operative Food Issues
The following problems related to food may be encountered after surgery
Nausea, vomiting, bloating and/or heartburn
- Fluids are needed to replace normal water loss and to prevent
dehydration. You should aim to drink at least 2 litres of water
- Avoid liquids with meals, saving room for solid foods.
- When drinking liquids, sip them slowly. If liquids are gulped
too quickly, abdominal cramping, discomfort, and/or vomiting may
- Avoid carbonated drinks and drinking from a straw. Doing this
can help you to avoid excess gas and pressure.
Nausea, vomiting, bloating and/or heartburn can occur from any of
Dumping Syndrome (applicable to Gastric Bypass Surgery)
- Eating and drinking too quickly
- Not chewing food well enough
- Drinking cold fluids
- Eating too much
- Eating rich or sweet foods, fried, or high-fat foods
- Eating gas-producing foods or drinking carbonated beverages
Dumping syndrome can be a feeling of abdominal fullness, weakness, warmth, rapid pulse, cold sweats, nausea, possible vomiting, and possible diarrhea. This happens whenever foods and drinks that are too high in sugar are consumed. To avoid dumping syndrome, avoid concentrated sweets (ice-cream, milkshakes, sweets, cakes etc.). You may only be able to tolerate a very small amount of these items at a time, if any at all.
Blocking of the Stoma
The new opening created by the surgery is smaller than the original
opening that released food from the stomach into the intestine. The
new opening may become blocked when food has not been thoroughly chewed,
which can result in abdominal pain or vomiting.
To prevent blockage from occurring:
- Avoid eating high fibre foods, such as raw fruit and vegetables,
for the first 6 weeks after surgery. After the 6 weeks make sure
you chew high fibre foods thoroughly.
- Chew all foods to the consistency of mush before swallowing.
- Use chewable or liquid multivitamins.
The purpose of gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy surgery is to
create a smaller stomach that is unable to hold the large volumes
of food it had previously held. Constant overeating can stretch the
stomach pouch. Meals should be small. The more solid the food, the
less you will be able to eat.
To prevent stretching the pouch:
- Eat only three small meals each day to prevent overfilling of
- Eat slowly so that the nerve receptors in your stomach area
can relay the message to your brain that your stomach is full.
It takes approximately 15-20 minutes for the message of fullness
to reach the brain. Take time between bites of food and stop eating
as soon as fullness is experienced.
- Recognise when you are full, which can feel like pain or pressure
in the centre just below the rib cage, nausea, or a pain in your
shoulder or upper chest. The next step is to stop eating when
you feel full.
- Constant nibbling, grazing or snacking may not stretch your
stomach pouch, but it will make it difficult to meet your target
Total food consumption is reduced after surgery, and therefore, intake
may be nutritionally inadequate.
To compensate for reduced nutrient intake:
- Consume a varied diet. Include foods such as lean meats, low fat
dairy, fruits and vegetables, and high fibre breads and cereals. Avoid
foods such as carbonated drinks, crisps, pastries, sweets and fried
- Take recommended vitamins (multivitamin, calcium, iron and B12 supplements)
Food intolerance varies widely and one individual may tolerate a food
that disagrees with another person. Therefore, it is important to
try a variety of foods. Each individual must try new foods carefully
to test his or her reactions after surgery.
The following foods may be difficult to eat, especially for the first
- Tough meats – dry, gristly meats may be difficult to
- Bread – fresh, doughy bread can form a ball and stick
at the opening from the stomach.
- Pasta – pasta may form a paste and be more difficult