Not Eating After Gastric Sleeve?

If you’re not eating after your gastric sleeve surgery, please know that you’re not alone.

This is common to hear!

So let’s figure out:

  1. Why
  2. What to do About It

Not Eating After Gastric Sleeve: Is it Physical?

These are the most common physical reasons that get in the way of eating after bariatric surgery:

  • Nausea
  • Change in smell or taste
  • No appetite

Nausea

Dehydration can make you nauseated after surgery.

So be SURE to drink 64oz of calorie free fluids EVERY SINGLE DAY! See what to drink.

Make this your primary goal and once you’re meeting it, THEN start to think about what to eat.

I’m a fan of drinking on a structured plan to make sure you get it all down. This means drinking even when you’re not thirsty!

I discuss a “fluid schedule” with each and every patient I work with. It may look  something like this:

  • 6a-10a: 16oz
  • 10a-2p: 16oz
  • 2p-6p: 16oz
  • 6p-10p: 16oz

Heightened Sense of Smell and Taste

True Story: I worked with a patient who had such severe nausea from his heighted sense of smell that he had to be medicated for it. He said he could smell his son’s feet from the next room…

…and who could eat with that kind of smell stuck in the nostril hairs?!!

Take home message: There ARE anti-nausea medications that could help if you need them.

Talk to your doctor. The nausea may not go away on its own, so address it before it undermines your nutrition.

Beside a heighted sense of smell, you may experience a heighted sense of taste. That is…

…you may become a hyper-taster. 

This is also a common reason for not eating after gastric sleeve surgery.

For example, foods that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners may taste much too sweet for you after your surgery.

What happens when foods don’t smell right OR taste right?

No Appetite

You lose your appetite. And then you don’t eat!

And even if foods don’t smell or taste any different, it’s likely you just don’t feel hungry.

That’s because there are metabolic changes that occur after surgery: alteration in the chemicals and hormones that regulate blood sugar, hunger, and fullness.

So it’s easy to become challenged to find foods you like and tolerate and want to eat.

Not Eating After Gastric Sleeve: What to Do 

If nausea is the problem, try eating cold or room temperature foods. They don’t give off a smell like hot foods do.

Try drinking your protein drinks from a cup with a lid (like a sippy cup).

Avoid foods that are artificially sweetened. For example:

  • Drink fruit infused water vs sugar free flavored waters
  • Eat plain nonfat Greek yogurt and add your own extracts or spices for flavoring vs using sugar free Greek yogurts

If you're not eating after your gastric sleeve because you're simply not hungry, then eat by the clock, on a schedule, every 2-3 hours. Like this:

  • 6a: Breakfast
  • 9a: Snack
  • 12p: Lunch
  • 3p: Snack
  • 6p: Dinner

Not Eating After Gastric Sleeve: Is it Psychological?

There’s a whole other side of why you may not be eating after gastric sleeve:

  • You’re worried you’ll vomit
  • You’re worried you’ll stop losing weight quickly
  • You’re worried you’ll start gaining weight

These are all common to hear.

Fear of Vomiting

Vomiting after you eat can happen due to:

  • Dehydration
  • Taking too big of a bite
  • Not chewing thoroughly
  • Eating too fast

Take a close look at that list.  Every single factor on the list is in your control.

If you make sure to hydrate properly (at least 64oz calorie free fluids daily) and eat slowly and mindfully, you can scratch off worrying about vomiting after you eat.

Fear of Stalled Weight Loss

Weight loss is rapid in the first few days, weeks, and even first few months after surgery.

But it’s unrealistic to think you’ll sustain this fast rate of loss.

I don’t mean to be a buzz kill, but I want you to have realistic expectations.

I understand the fear of adding food, and thus calories, to your otherwise perfect routine of drinking protein shakes and enjoying rapid weight loss. 

What if you "mess up" this perfect weight loss formula?

You may even think…hey I don't need to eat....I’m not even hungry!

This faulty thinking leads to not eating after gastric sleeve and thus falling short of your nutrition goals.

You can’t live on protein shakes for the rest of your life.

Your weight loss is expected to slow down.

You HAVE to learn how to eat real foods!

I suggest sitting down and making a list of NON SCALE VICTORIES that you can focus on. For example:

  • Clothes are looser
  • Off medications
  • Sleeping better
  • More Energy
  • Greater self confidence

This takes the emphasis off the scale. Weight loss is NOT the only measure of success.

Besides, weight loss, even after bariatric surgery, isn’t always linear…even when you’re doing everything “right”.

Fear of Weight Gain

Along the same lines, you may worry that your weight loss not only slows down…

…but that you actually start gaining once you start eating real foods.

Faulty thing again.

It will undoubtedly feel strange to eat even the smallest amount of food in the beginning. But don’t let your thoughts get the best of you.

Remind yourself how much you USED to be able to eat.

Your goal wasn’t to have weight loss surgery and then never be able to eat again!

The longer you fall short of your nutrition goals (especially protein) due to fear of eating, the more likely you are to have hair loss and/or muscle loss.

Whether you’re not eating after gastric sleeve due to physical reasons or due to psychological reasons, it’s important to address it right away.  

Weight loss is an outcome.  It follows behaviors. Make you goals around behaviors, not numbers.

If you feel you need more help, please contact me for a consultation.

I can find out what you’re eating and offer suggestions that can help you get back on track with good nutrition!

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