Below are some frequently asked questions and concerns for patients considering gastric bypass surgery. If you have additional questions, please contact your physician’s office.
Can I drink carbonated beverages after surgery?
Many patients find carbonated beverages uncomfortable from the gas they produce, which could also cause some expansion of the stomach pouch. We ask that patients do not risk stretching their pouch and refrain from drinking all carbonated beverages after surgery. Carbonated drinks are often high in sodium and have no nutritional value, so we recommend not drinking any of them, including calorie-free ones, at least 30 days before surgery. We also recommend that you avoid any high-calorie drinks between meals, as these tend to activate your hunger mechanism and unnecessarily increase your caloric intake.
Why can’t I eat red meat after surgery?
We recommend that you avoid red meat for the first six months. They contain a high level of meat fibers, or gristle, which hold the piece of meat together. This can prevent you from separating it into small parts when you chew, so it can plug the outlet of your stomach pouch, stopping anything from passing through, which is very uncomfortable. You should always choose very lean and tender red meat, if you do eat it later.
What is “dumping syndrome”?
Dumping syndrome is caused by eating sugars, or foods high in carbohydrates which contain many small particles, on an empty stomach. These substances produce a high osmotic load. Your body handles these by diluting the food particles with water, which reduces blood volume and causes a shock-like state. Sugar may also induce insulin shock due to the altered physiology of your intestinal tract in bypass patients.
The result is a very unpleasant feeling — you break out in a cold clammy sweat, turn pale, feel butterflies in your stomach, and a pounding pulse. This may be followed by cramps and diarrhea. This state can last for 30 to 60 minutes and is very uncomfortable. Most people have to lie down until it goes away. It can be avoided by not eating the foods which cause it, especially on an empty stomach. A small amount of something with natural sugar, such as fruit, is well-tolerated at the end of a meal.
What is the problem with milk products?
Some patients report becoming lactose intolerant after gastric bypass surgery. Milk contains a special sugar called lactose, or milk sugar, which is not well digested. This sugar passes through undigested until bacteria in the lower bowel act on it, producing irritating byproducts, as well as gas. Depending on individual tolerance, some patients find even the smallest amount of milk or milk sugar will cause cramps, gas, and diarrhea.
How do I use the gastric bypass “tool” successfully?
The basic rules are simple, and easy to follow:
- Eat 3 meals per day, no more. Protein, in the form of lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish) and other low-fat sources, should be eaten first and should comprise at least half the volume of the meal eaten. Foods should be cooked without fat, seasoned to taste. Avoid sauces, gravies, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, and junk foods.
- Never eat between meals – nothing. Do not drink high-calorie beverages between meals.
- Drink 64 ounces or more of water each day. Water usually must be consumed slowly, 1 to 2 mouthfuls at a time, due to the restrictive effect of the operation.
- Exercise aerobically every day for at least 30 minutes (one mile brisk walk, bike riding, stair climbing, etc.). We also encourage weight/resistance exercise 3 to 4 days per week.
- When each meal is satisfying, this is not a diet but a lifestyle which you can easily achieve and which will result in rapid weight loss followed by weight maintenance.
Why can’t I snack between meals?
Snacking is the worst thing you can do for your weight control. Snacking, nibbling or grazing on foods, usually high-calorie and high-fat foods, can add hundreds of calories a day to your intake while defeating the restrictive effect of your operation. Since most snacking is done out of impulse, hunger-limitation or satiety has a limited effect on preventing it. Snacking will slow down your weight loss and can lead to regaining some of your lost weight. Snacking is also a habit, which is easier to avoid than to stop once it is started. If you start snacking after a while and notice the bad effects, we’ll help you stop. It’s a lot easier and more rewarding never to start.
Why drink so much water?
When you are losing weight, there is a heavy load of waste products to eliminate, mostly in the urine. Some of these substances tend to form crystals which can cause kidney stones. A high water intake protects you and helps your body to rid itself of waste products efficiently, promoting better weight loss.
Water will also fill your stomach and will help to prolong and intensify your sense of satisfaction with food. If you feel a desire to eat between meals it is probably because you did not drink enough water in the hour before.
What’s so important about exercise?
When you have weight loss surgery, you lose weight because the amount of food energy (calories) you are able to eat is much less than your body needs to operate. It has to make up the difference by burning reserves, or unused tissues. Your body will burn any unused muscle first before it begins to burn the precious fat it has saved up.
If you do not exercise daily, your body will consume your unused muscle, and you will lose muscle mass and strength. Daily aerobic exercise for 30 minutes will communicate to your body that you want to use your muscles and force it to burn the fat instead. Developing the habit of daily exercise while you are losing weight will help assure that you continue to exercise to maintain the weight loss long term.
Questions? Contact our expert team today.