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Diet After Gastrectomy: Care Instructions


After surgery, you probably will feel full much sooner after eating than you did before surgery. This is because your stomach has less room for food.

This surgery also can make your stomach empty food into your small intestine more quickly than it did before. This can cause a problem called dumping syndrome. It can make you feel faint, shaky, and nauseated. And you may have diarrhea. It also can make it hard for your body to get enough nutrition. Dumping syndrome can happen within a half hour after you eat or 2 or 3 hours later.

You may be able to prevent dumping syndrome and feeling too full by changing the way you eat. Try to eat more small meals rather than a few large ones. And drink fluids between meals, not with them. Make sure you eat enough to keep your weight up and to get enough protein, calcium, and iron. A dietitian can help you plan menus to pack good nutrition into several small meals.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Eat 6 times a day. For example, try 3 small meals and 3 snacks. This may keep you from feeling too full after you eat. And it may reduce problems with diarrhea or dumping syndrome.
  • Eat slowly. Try to chew each bite about 20 times or until it is liquid. Allow 20 to 30 minutes for each meal.
  • Make sure you eat often. This helps you get enough calories to stay at a healthy weight. You might not feel as hungry as you did before surgery, but it is important to not skip meals. Many people who have this surgery lose weight because they eat much less than they did before. Keep healthy, high-calorie snacks around, such as peanut butter and crackers or cheese and crackers.
  • Try to eat a variety of foods to make sure you get all the nutrition you need. But limit or avoid foods if they give you a lot of gas or diarrhea. These may include foods like milk, foods that are high in fat, and some vegetables.
  • Eat meals that have protein. This is found in red meats, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and other dairy products, and peanut butter and other nut butters.
  • Limit foods that have a lot of sugar. High-sugar foods increase the chance of dumping syndrome. These include desserts, soda pop, and fruit juices.
  • Drink fluids between, not during, meals. Do not drink liquids within a half hour before you eat and up to an hour after you eat. Fluids fill up your stomach quickly. They also move food even more quickly into the small intestine. Quick emptying of the stomach increases the chance of diarrhea.
  • Reduce the amount of high-fibre foods you eat if you feel painfully full after eating them. High-fibre foods, such as beans and whole grain breads and pasta, increase the feeling of fullness.
  • If you often have diarrhea, take an over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea (such as Imodium) a half hour to 1 hour before you eat.
  • If all of your stomach was removed, you need to have regular shots, or injections, of vitamin B12. (Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the stomach.) Follow your doctor's directions on when to have them.
  • Take calcium and vitamin D supplements if your doctor recommends them. If milk gives you gas or diarrhea, try to eat yogurt and cheese.
  • Lie down for 15 to 30 minutes after a meal if you usually feel faint right after you eat.

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.