Food and Drink Related Complications after Bariatric Surgery
Nausea? Difficulty keeping certain foods down? Hair Loss? There are a number of complications related to nutrition that can happen after WLS. Some are quite minor while others can be more difficult to work around or resolve. Here we will discuss some of the most common complications experienced after the gastric-bypass (GB) and sleeve gastrectomy (VGS) and ways to help fix and/or prevent them.
There are many reasons why dehydration is a problem after surgery. With difficulties drinking quickly, the need to separate foods and liquids, and the fact that drinking can be uncomfortable, it’s no wonder. So how can you make getting enough to drink easier?
- Aim to drink a certain amount of water by certain times throughout the day
- Use an app (such as BariBuddy) to set reminders to drink
- Drink out of a glass or bottle that holds at least 1L.
- Try liquids at different temperatures
- Change the surface tension of water to make it sit better in your stomach. Our Baricol Complete effervescent tablets can do the trick!
- Add electrolytes with Stomacol or other low-sugar rehydration/sports drinks
- Add some pizzazz to plain water with a splash of juice or infusing it with fruit
Feared by many, hair loss is typically out of our control after surgery, unfortunately. This is because hair loss can be a stress response to rapid weight loss and the surgery itself. However, nutrient deficiencies can make it worse or cause it in people that would otherwise not lose their hair. So make sure you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need like those found in Baricol Complete, and eat a healthy diet that is rich in protein.
Having troubles with constipation is incredibly common. Causes range from low fluid and fiber intake to new medications (such as those used to prevent nausea) to your body simply adjusting your new anatomy. Many go from having a bowel movement (BM) every day to having one every 2-3 days, but if those BMs are hard and painful, try the following “5 F’s” to get things moving along:
- Fluids. Make sure you are hydrated! Without this, other remedies won’t help. Stomacol and Baricol Complete effervescent tablets can help with this.
- Fiber. Add greens and chia or flax seeds to smoothies/protein drinks, make sure you have a fruit or veggie with every meal, and/or use a fiber supplement such as psyllium husk.
- (F)ysical Activity. Staying active and even standing more often can help things move along.
- Flora. Taking a probiotic and eating foods that are naturally high in good bacteria such as yogurt and kombucha can help give your digestive track a little boost.
- Fish or Flax Oil. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids can help smooth out BMs. Olive oil can also be effective.
Nausea, and to a lesser extent vomiting, is very common, especially right after surgery when your stomach is healing. Some of the main things that bring it on include: eating or drinking too fast, eating or drinking too much at once, not chewing well enough, and/or eating or drinking something that just doesn’t sit right. So make sure to take small bites, chew well, and take your time! Also don’t hesitate to go back to foods that are easier on your stomach if needed.
Food intolerance goes hand-in-hand with nausea and vomiting. The most common culprits in addition to the causes of nausea/vomiting discussed above are dry or tough meats, rich/greasy foods, doughy starches, and high sugar foods and drinks. Ways to avoid this include:
- Choosing moist cooking methods (braising, stewing, and pressure cookers work well!)
- Eating dark meat instead of white meat chicken or turkey
- Adding sauces to meats
- Marinating or tenderizing meats before cooking
- Trying vegetarian versions of burgers or sausages
- Choosing hearty or crumbly bread products over doughy ones
It’s also a good idea to keep a food record like that found on our BariBuddy app to track what causes problems. Sometimes it’s not as obvious as you might think.
Most people have heard about or experienced dumping syndrome firsthand. There are two different forms of dumping: early and late. While they can feel similar, what is actually happening in your body are two different things. Here we will discuss ways to avoid both. To learn more about the differences between early and late dumping syndrome, check out the FAQs in our BariBuddy app.
- Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar, especially added sugars
- Avoid rich, greasy, fatty foods, like fried foods, cream-based soups, and ice cream
- Eat protein with every meal
- Avoid carb-heavy or carb-only meals which can lead to late dumping.
As always, speak with your surgical team when you experience troubles after surgery. These are just a few suggestions to help you get through some of those rough patches but are not a substitute to getting medical advice tailored to you as an individual.