Does your stomach go back to normal after Gastric Bypass or Gastric Sleeve?
Fact or Crap? You can stretch your stomach back to normal after bariatric surgery
The biggest worry after bariatric surgery: does your stomach go back to normal?
In my decade plus of coaching after weight loss surgery, the top question (and concern) I hear is something concerning if your stomach can go back to normal after Gastric Bypass or Gastric Sleeve.
😩 Did I stretch out my pouch?
How easy is it to stretch out the pouch?
Does your stomach go back to normal after Gastric Bypass?
Will I gain all the weight back if it stretched out?
I have some really good news for you. It’s much harder than you think to stretch out your pouch.
Your stomach is a resilient organ (yay!)
Just like your heart or your kidneys, your stomach is an organ. And organs are resilient. They endure surgeries and heal. They are layered in THICK muscle.
Your stomach is not thin like a balloon. It’s not a rubber band. It’s not that fragile. Overeating at a few meals will not undo you surgery. Phew!
Following your diet early after surgery is important for proper healing and to avoid strictures (a narrowing that prevents foods to pass normally in your digestive system). The progression of the diet after surgery is for healing and should be followed closely.
The healing phase
The first 8 weeks after surgery are consider the “healing phase” of Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, DS or other bariatric surgeries that cut on the stomach. This is the time to comply with the diet progression and to pay extra close attention to each meal as you are learning the new feelings of satisfaction versus fullness.
During this time you need to heal and should not advance your diet too fast (each chicken before they said to…) this could cause complications.
During your healing phase it is important to follow your diet plan closely. However, even in this situation it’s not that the pouch has been stretched out. Instead, it is inflamed because you ticked it off. If symptoms aren’t improving – always contact your surgeon.
Beyond the healing phase
That being said, if you are beyond the healing phases and you think to yourself “I shouldn’t be able to eat this much, or drink this much this quickly…I must have stretch out my pouch…”
Did you stretch out your stomach after Gastric Bypass or Gastric Sleeve? Was this whole surgery just ruined?
It is incredibly difficult to stretch out the stomach. That resilient organ is more likely to contract its layers of muscle and cause you to vomit than it is to inflate like a balloon and stretch out.
It is more likely that you are eating “around” the restriction and not that the restriction is gone. Read: you have not ruined your surgery.
Here is what’s more likely going on…
You may have eaten “around” your surgery which made you feel like the surgery itself was at fault. Likely, it’s what you ate or how you ate it.
If you think to yourself “that was more than I thought I could eat” OR “how am I already hungry? Is my stomach pouch stretched out?” stop and think about these five things:
bites and speed
🍓 Were you grazing on the food? Did you take more than 30 minutes to eat it?
When you take too long to eat, the first bite you took is on it’s way out and you are still eating. This will make it look like you can eat a lot more when really it’s just had the time to move through. Picking at food through the day will add up to a larger amount than filling up at set meal times.
Research shows patient who successfully maintain weight loss avoid grazing. Read more about habits of successful patients here.
🍓Was your food a softer texture?
You will experience less restriction and be able to eat more of a softer textured food.
Examples include cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, deli meat, scrambled eggs, tuna/chicken/eggs salad. The softer the food is, the more you can fit in your pouch and the sooner you get hungry. You think it’s the stomach that’s the issue but it’s the types of foods you are eating.
This is a great blog about Food Textures and was a part of our 10 Day Habit Refresh Series!
🍓 Did you take small bites and pause in between?
If you find yourself getting hungry in between 3 meals per day, it could be that you ate too big of bites or too quickly and experienced “pre-mature fullness” where you think you’re full and stop eating but then find yourself hungry sooner than your next meal time.
I have a great members video called ‘HOW you eat matters’!
Ideally bite sizes are about the size of a black bean, especially of dense solid protein. Here is a blog about my preferred method of 2:1 protein for hunger control after surgery.
🍓 Did you drink while you ate?
Fluids will move food through your stomach much faster which will increase how much food you are able to fit in the stomach during that mealtime.
It will look like you’ve eaten a larger amount of food than you think you should if you had liquids with it. This is true for soups and cereals as well.
🍓 Was the food starchy or high in carbohydrate?
Starchy foods (breads, pasta, rice, crackers, chips, popcorn, oats) are higher in carbohydrates which begin the digestion process in the mouth with salivary amylase. Between chewing and this enzyme, the food is very soft when it reaches your pouch. This means it moves through more quickly and you can eat more of it.
This is why you can eat more crackers or chips than you can hamburger.
It is not likely that your stomach can go back to normal after Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass.
Getting back to the basics and make sure you are eating the right foods in the right way to get the most out of your pouch.
By the way, getting back on track is the number one reason why patients join the Bariatric Food Coach membership! I highly recommend the video course “Hunger and Bariatric Surgery” to take back control of what your restriction can do for you.
It may not be your pouch, it may be your habits!
That may sound harsh but it really is good news! Your stomach is likely not back to normal and you can utilize your pouch again!
It is very possible sitting down and making a few goals for yourself (make a meal plan this week, focus on solid protein) can bring you back to your surgery basics.
You may very well be able to quickly identify the root issue of why your restriction has decreased. Then make the changes and enjoy that pouch to it’s full potential again!
**Note: it IS normal for portion sizes to gradually increase the farther you get out of your surgery.
I coach patients to keep a ratio of 2 bites of protein to every 1 bite of vegetable and stop at your first indication of fullness.
It’s MORE than okay if this amount increases throughout your first year after surgery. If you make the right food choices, you’ll still have portion restriction, hunger control and weight-loss! This is quality over quantity thinking. It is what you are eating more than how much.
Get back on track and feel inspired again
As a dietitian who has specialized in bariatric surgery for almost a decade, believe when I get to tell you that it really is never too late.
If you feel you need a hit the refresh button and get back to basics, I invite you to sign up for my email list and watch my free video series “Get the Most out of your Weight Loss Surgery.” Click the image below to sign up!
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