What if I Eat Too Much if I've Had Gastric Bypass?

Gastric bypass surgery shrinks the size of your stomach to help you lose weight. Surgeons close off most of your stomach with staples. The new, smaller size helps you feel full quickly, making it easier to stop overeating. Your goal after gastric bypass surgery should be to limit your food intake, which will lead to weight loss and, eventually, help you maintain a healthy weight.

A man does up his jeans that are now a little tight. (Image: Marian1410/iStock/Getty Images)

Function

Your new stomach likely is walnut-sized and holds about 1 tbsp. of food. If all goes well, later it will hold about 1 cup of food, much less than the 4 cups a normal stomach can contain. Your doctor will monitor your condition so you can gradually increase the solidity of the foods you eat. You’ll progress from liquids to pureed or ground foods to soft solids to solids. From the start, you must limit your food intake to whatever your doctor recommends. Eat slowly to give your body time to realize your stomach is full.

Healing

Your doctor will give you specific dietary recommendations concerning the amounts and types of foods you should eat. After a post-surgery fasting period of a day or so, you will be restricted to room-temperature liquids to allow your stomach to recuperate from the surgery. If you eat too much during this period, you could interfere with the healing process and possibly rupture the staple line in your stomach.

Stretching

So long as you adhere to your doctor’s recommendations and stop eating once you feel full, your stomach should maintain an optimal size, which your doctor selected based on your body’s nutrition needs. Regularly eating too much will stretch your stomach more and more, eventually making the gastric bypass futile.

Weight Gain

As your stomach stretches to hold more food, your former bad eating habits might return. If you eat more food than your body needs for energy, you are at risk of gaining weight, which likely was the reason you had the gastric bypass in the first place. Consequently, all the pain and risk associated with the surgery will be for nothing.

Indigestion

Your stomach can’t handle the amount you used to eat before the gastric bypass, so you might experience indigestion if you eat too much. Also, indigestion can result from poorly chewed food. The opening between your stomach and small intestine is smaller than it used to be, so large pieces of food can block the opening and inhibit digestion. Symptoms might include nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain. Tell your doctor about all digestive symptoms in case they are due to a complication. Chew your food to a pureed consistency to decrease the chances of obstruction.

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