Frequently Asked Questions about Nutrition after Bariatric Surgery

Q:  What is lactose intolerance and what are dairy alternatives?

Lactose intolerance is your body’s inability to digest the naturally occurring sugar, or lactose found in milk and dairy products.  If you don’t tolerate lactose after your surgery, look for a soy-based protein drink or try Lactaid®.

Q:  I have heard that some people have taste alterations after surgery, should I expect this?

Taste changes and alterations are not uncommon after surgery; don’t be surprised if the protein drink you chose before surgery does not taste as good now. No worries, just try some alternates until you find one acceptable.

Q:  How do I avoid the ‘dumping syndrome’?

  • Do not use straws
  • Avoid Carbonation
  • Avoid Extreme Temperatures (too hot or too cold)
  • Sip slowly, don’t gulp
  • Limit sugar and fat content

(The above listed may cause cramping, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea).

Q:  I have heard that some people experience bad breath or body odor after surgery, is this true?

You may experience bad breath as a result of rapid weight loss and your body’s use of fat as an energy source. To Remedy: increase your intake of fluid to help flush these byproducts out of your system.

Q: Is it normal to have pain after I drink?

Pain, pressure or discomfort just below the breastbone after drinking or eating is usually due to eating or drinking too much too fast. To remedy, wait about 30 to 60 minutes, or until the sensation resolves. Sip more slowly, take very small sips, avoid extremes in temperatures, chew well, take small bites and eat very slowly. Pain or discomfort that does not resolve is not normal and you should call the clinic.

Q:  Why is carbonation not allowed after surgery?

Carbonated drinks or drinks with fizz contain carbon dioxide gas. This gas expands when it reaches your stomach and can cause pain or discomfort. Carbonation can stretch your pouch.

Q:  Why is caffeine limited after surgery?

Caffeine is a diuretic which means that it will encourage your body to lose water. Since dehydration is the primary complication of any weight loss surgery we do not want any additional challenges to staying well hydrated.

Q:  How do I find a Bariatric surgery support group?

Our support groups allow patients to get to know each other, but they are also a great source of information. If you have Facebook, you can join our online support group. Go to South MS Surgical Weight Loss Center Facebook page, click on Groups, answer the three security question and ask to Join Our Group. This is a closed group offer to our patients only.

Q:  What if I just can’t drink the protein shakes while on the liquid diet? (They are too sweet or make me nauseous).

Remember that staying hydrated is your primary concern. Focus on taking non-carbonated, non-caffeinated, and low or no calorie fluids frequently to prevent dehydration.

If you are not able to drink a protein supplement you may wish to try fortifying broth or soup with a protein powder or non-fat dry milk powder. (Two Tablespoons of powdered milk provides appx 5 grams of protein.)

***soup must be smooth liquid consistency and without chunks. For safety, run the soup through a fine mesh strainer to remove any chunks or particles***

Q:  When is it appropriate to start solid foods?

At 3 weeks, begin replacing protein containing fluids with lean protein sources that are soft, mushy, diced or pureed.  You will be scheduled for a follow up visit around this time to see the dietitian and your surgeon.

Q:  Can I drink alcohol again after surgery?

Alcohol has a much more pronounced effect after surgery. Most people feel the effects of alcohol after just a few sips. In addition alcohol provides empty calories that can sabotage your weight loss goal. For this reason we recommend that patients avoid alcohol for at least 1 year after surgery. After that alcohol should be used rarely and in small amounts in a safe environment.

Q:  What should I do if I have nausea that won’t go away and is not related to eating?

Nausea is not uncommon after weight loss surgery. Try to increase you fluid intake. Dehydration is a common cause of nausea. If your nausea persists with at least 64 ounces of fluid each day we recommend that you call the clinic to discuss your symptoms.

Q:  What should I do if I am vomiting?

Vomiting is usually related to eating or drinking too much too quickly, swallowing too big of a bite or not chewing well. Vomiting that is not associated with eating or drinking is not common. If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting on a daily basis we recommend that you call the clinic to discuss your symptoms.