After surgery, you will find that you need to make changes in your eating patterns, not only to prevent pain and vomiting, but also to produce the desired weight loss. Perhaps even more important is development of appropriate eating habits to prevent band slippage and obstruction of the stoma (the opening for foods leaving the upper stomach). Changes considered to be important are outlined in the following paragraphs.
Eat slowly and chew foods until they reach a mushy consistency. Swallowing food in chunks may block the opening and prevent the passage of food. The following are hints to help you eat more slowly:
1. Set aside 30 to 45 minutes to eat each meal.
2. Actually count the number of times you chew each bite. Aim for 30.
3. Make an EAT SLOWLY sign and place it on the table in front of you.
4. Explain to family members why you must eat slowly so they will not urge you to eat faster.
5. Take small bites of food. You may want to try eating with a baby spoon.
6. Pay attention to taste. Learn to savor each bite, noticing its flavor, texture, and consistency.
7. Chew well. Ground or very soft foods may be necessary if you have dentures.
Stop eating as soon as you are full. Besides causing you to vomit, extra food over a period of time may stretch your stomach. Indications of fullness may be:
1. A feeling of pressure or fullness in the center of your abdomen just below the rib cage.
2. Feelings of nausea.
3. Pain in your shoulder area or upper chest.
If you start vomiting, and it continues throughout the day, stop eating solid foods and just sip clear liquids (gelatin, clear juice, broth, and tea). The vomiting may indicate that your outlet is blocked. If intermittent vomiting continues for more than 24 hours, contact your doctor. Most vomiting episodes can be prevented. The causes of vomiting are:
1. Eating too fast and not chewing food properly.
2. Eating too much at a meal.
3. Drinking liquids right after eating.
4. Lying down after a meal.
5. Eating foods that don’t agree with you.
Set aside three mealtimes per day and eat solid foods only at these times. It is important to eat nourishing foods and to avoid the habit of snacking. Eating often throughout the day may keep you from losing weight because you will be able to eat enough calories to maintain that weight. Individuals who continuously munch on crackers, potato chips or other foods have not only failed to lose but have even gained weight.
Drink four to six cups of liquids per day between meals. Liquids are needed to replace normal body water losses and thus prevent dehydration. Recommended beverages are skim milk, water, tea, coffee, and low-calorie drinks such as diet soda. Hints for drinking beverages include:
1. Do not drink beverages for 30 to 45 minutes before or after meals. (There is not enough room in your stomach for food and liquids both.)
2. Sip beverages slowly. One way to begin is by taking sips of beverages from a medicine cup or shot glass instead of drinking from a regular glass.
3. Eliminate high-calorie drinks such as milkshakes, soda pop, beer, and other alcoholic beverages from your diet. By sipping on high-calorie liquids throughout the day, many calories are absorbed without creating the effect of fullness. This will result in a poor weight loss record. Avoid carbonated liquids because they could increase the size of the pouch creating discomfort.