Adjustable Gastric Band: What Happens If You Don't Follow Your New Diet
Adjustable gastric band surgery restricts the size of the opening to your stomach.
This decreases the amount of food you can take in. After this surgery, you are likely
to lose a lot of weight, as long as you follow instructions. At the same time, you
will need to get used to a totally new way of eating.
It takes about 4 weeks after the surgery before you can eat solid food again. You'll
probably have a high-protein, liquid-only diet for 2 weeks. Then you'll have only
pureed foods for 2 to 4 more weeks. Solid food may have never before seemed so tempting.
But when you're finally ready for it, you may face a new problem called food intolerance.
Food intolerance after gastric band surgery
Food intolerance means that after surgery you may have problems eating certain foods.
This can make it hard to stick to your new diet and keep the pounds off.
The opening through the band is adjustable. If the opening is too small, some nutritious
foods you once enjoyed may get stuck there. You might have an uncomfortable full feeling
in your lower chest that takes some time to go away, or you may vomit up the food
that you had swallowed.
Experts suggest that people who have this surgery not eat foods rich in fiber. These
foods include celery, corn, oranges, pineapples, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. These
kinds of foods can get caught above the band. Eating bread may cause a blockage. Other
foods you may not be able to eat include the skins of fruits and vegetables, and protein-rich
nuts and meats such as steak, hamburger, and pork chops. Unfortunately, the skins
of fruits and vegetables are often the most nutritious part. If you putt them in the
blender before you eat them, you may still be able to eat this nutritious part of
Common food intolerances include:
Meat and dairy. Food intolerance is one of the main reasons that people who have gastric band surgery
often don't get enough protein in their diet. The band may need to be adjusted and
opened slightly to allow you to eat enough protein-rich foods.
Salad greens. This may be because of the high fiber content of greens, which may make it difficult
to pass through the band.
Fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are also high in fiber and typically have a skin, which makes them more
difficult to digest and pass through the band.
Breads. Swallowing bread, even after chewing, can cause an obstruction at the band.
Having to skip nutritious fruits and vegetables like oranges and sweet potatoes makes
it hard to get the nutrients your body needs.
Nutritional problems linked to food intolerance
Because food intolerance makes it harder to get enough protein and vitamins, nutritional
problems and complications have been seen among people who have the gastric band.
These problems include anemia, a lack of protein, and malnutrition.
For this reason, it's important to stick to your new diet and get help dealing with
food intolerance. Call your healthcare provider if you notice any symptoms of food
intolerance. These symptoms include gastroesophageal reflux (GERD or heartburn) or
regurgitation, stomach pain and discomfort, and especially repeated vomiting. Your
healthcare provider might advise tests such as an upper gastrointestinal X-ray or
endoscopy to check on your situation.
You should also seek medical help right away if you have any unusual symptoms, such
as severe exhaustion, confusion, a feeling of being cold when others are not, and
unexplained bruising. These are signs that your body is starved for nutrients.
Sticking with your new diet
Before you have gastric band surgery, your healthcare provider and a dietitian or
nutritionist will talk with you about the changes in diet you'll need to follow for
the rest of your life. Because you'll be taking in many fewer calories than before,
you'll also need to take daily vitamin and mineral supplements. To avoid complications
and still lose weight, you will need to change your diet.
You may have eaten high-calorie foods, like pastries and ice cream, before your surgery.
After surgery, you'll need to eat a diet that's high in protein and lower in calories.
Because your stomach can only hold a small amount of food, you need to eat much smaller
amounts. Any time you eat more than your new, small stomach can handle, you'll either
have upper abdominal pain until it passes or until you vomit it up. You will also
need to avoid soda, beer, and other carbonated drinks. They can cause bloating.
Food intolerance can make it hard to stick with your diet. So, your weight loss may
slow or even reverse. If you don't eat certain foods or food groups, you may not get
If the band is too tight, your healthcare provider can take some fluid out, and open
the band up a bit. This can reduce food intolerance. Sometimes, you may have food
intolerance even if the band seems to be properly adjusted. Unfortunately, healthcare
providers don't always know why some people have food intolerance after adjustable
gastric band surgery and others do not.
These tips may help you to better adjust to your new way of eating:
Chew your food slowly, up to 20 times per bite, so that it's a liquid when you swallow
Make sure all meat is extremely tender and cut into tiny pieces or blended before
you eat it. White meats are better tolerated than red meats.
Meet with a dietitian regularly to talk about your eating issues.
Get regular health checkups and blood tests for the rest of your life to look for
nutritional problems. Some of these problems can show up years after your surgery.
It's also important to take the daily vitamin and mineral supplements your healthcare
provider has prescribed. Forgetting to take them or deliberately not taking them puts
you at risk of developing serious nutritional problems. Some problems can develop
in a matter of weeks. Certain vitamin shortfalls, especially of thiamine, can also
cause permanent neurological symptoms, including permanent nerve damage and other
problems if they're not treated early.
If symptoms don't go away and you are having trouble getting the nutrition you need,
your healthcare provider might have you add a protein supplement for a while. He or
she might also suggest that you make other changes in your diet or the way you prepare
your food. Your band may also need to be adjusted so that the opening is bigger and
you have more space in your stomach for digestion.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may suggest that you have your band totally
deflated or removed if you have persistent vomiting.