Adjustable Gastric Band: What Happens If You Don’t Follow Your New Diet

Adjustable gastric band surgery makes your stomach much smaller. If you have this surgery, you are likely to lose a lot of weight. At the same time, you are getting used to a totally new way of eating. You may lose a lot of weight in the first few months because you can only eat a small amount of food at any one time.

It takes about four to six weeks after the surgery before you can eat solid food again. You'll probably have a high-protein, liquid-only diet for two weeks. Then you'll have only pureed foods for two 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 foods that you once ate or that are part of your new diet. This can make it hard to stick to your new diet and keep the pounds off.

The opening to your new stomach is called a stoma. One problem is that the stoma may be as small as quarter of an inch across. This means that some nutritious foods you once enjoyed may get stuck there. This raises your risk for food intolerance.

One gastric band maker suggests 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 in the stoma. 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.

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. Many eat less than half of the recommended amount of protein because they can't tolerate foods rich in protein. 

  • Salad greens. This may be because of the high fiber content of greens, which may make it difficult to pass through the stoma.

  • 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 stoma.

Having to skip nutritious fruits and vegetables like oranges and sweet potatoes makes it hard to get the nutrients your body needs. Food intolerances make it even harder.

Nutritional problems linked to food intolerance

Food intolerance after gastric band surgery may be more widespread than doctors thought. Partly because food intolerance makes it harder to get enough protein and vitamins, severe nutritional problems and complications have been seen among gastric bypass patients. These problems include anemia, a lack of protein, and life-threatening malnutrition.

For this reason, it's important to stick to your new diet and get help dealing with food intolerance. Call your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms of food intolerance. These symptoms include reflux or regurgitation, stomach pain and discomfort, and vomiting. Your doctor might recommend 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, stomach swelling, 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 doctor will talk with you about the strict 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 overhaul your diet.

You may have eaten high-calorie foods like pastries and ice cream before your surgery. Now you'll need to eat a diet that's high in protein and lower in calories.

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