How to Unstretch the Pouch after Bariatric Surgery

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So we have been seeing a lot of people tagging us about a post in Bariatric Lifestyle FoodPorn and Recipe group on Facebook, dealing with stomach stretching and how to unstretch if you have already stretched it out. I’m here to talk about why the pouch gets stretched, how some stretching is part the body’s natural process to digesting food, and ways to prevent stomach stretching. There may be all these plans that help you get back to you post surgery size of your pouch, but none of these plans are backed by any type of scientific data. You should be attempting to reset your mind and reset those old bad habits instead of trying to use the pouch reset every time you slip.

Go back to your basics:

  1. Fluids – Don’t drink 15 minutes before meals, and limit drinking for 30 minutes after meals. Liquid moves food out of your pouch more quickly, which may make you hungry sooner.
  2. Eat slowly – Chew thoroughly and pace yourself at meals to prevent overeating and increase satiety.
  3. Protein – Include high-quality protein with each meal. Also, decide if you are still benefiting from protein shakes. You may not need them if they no longer keep you full, and you get enough protein from food.
  4. Limit foods high in fat and sugar – These foods are high in calories and low in nutrients. Furthermore, these foods are likely to cause uncomfortable symptoms of dumping syndrome.
  5. Limit or avoid alcohol – alcohol is high in calories, especially in mixed drinks.

Long term success depends on changing those bad habits and not relying on a way out or giving yourself an escape goat to not do what you should be doing to succeed in the long term. Remember bariatric surgeons have one common goal, your overall weight loss and they do not care about your overall longevity or what you accomplish post bariatric surgery as long as you are losing the weight they think you should be losing.

Three primary types of Bariatric Surgery

Why Does the Stomach Stretch Post Bariatric Surgery?

Most bariatric patients assume stomach stretching to be a complication after undergoing bariatric surgery. In reality, the stomach has an innate ability to stretch to accommodate food intake. The walls of the stomach are composed of tissue called “rugae”, which accounts for the stretching as a direct response to food intake. After ingesting food, the stomach first expands, then contracts, as the food is pushed into the digestive tract, and the cycle repeats every time a person eats something. Though stomach stretching is natural and supposed to happen after eating, too much stretching can lead to skewed hunger and fullness signals. Continued stretching makes the stomach ask for more food, even when it’s half or completely full; which is one of the reasons why maintaining weight loss after bariatric surgery can be tough.

What are the Possible Complications of Stomach Stretching?

Stomach stretching mostly happens after overeating and may lead to a permanent increase in the size of the stomach. As the stomach grows, it demands more food to feel satiated, as hunger and fullness signals are skewed. Patients end up having more than the prescribed calorie intake, which reflects either as an inability to lose weight or a relapse post bariatric surgery. Though not a health hazard, stomach stretching defeats all efforts to maintain weight loss after undergoing bariatric surgery.

Ways to Minimize Stomach Stretching

Avoid Overeating

After undergoing bariatric surgery, stay away from binge eating, as it leads to skewed hunger and fullness signals, giving way to an unending cycle of overeating and stomach stretching. Remember however that over-stretching the stomach once in awhile is no big deal. Measure your meals, follow your diet chart, and in the event of any confusion regarding your eating habits, consult your bariatric doctor.

Take Fluids After Meals

Get into the habit of drinking fluids one or two hours before and after meals. Try not to drink water, juices or carbonated beverages 20-30 minutes before and after a meal, as fluids occupy space in the stomach that ideally should be reserved for nutrient rich foods. Drinking fluids at appropriate times helps with easy digestion, without limiting the stomach space or building up too much gases. Sugary and carbonated beverages are a complete no-no, as they contribute to enlarging the stomach and unhealthy calories.

Avoid Skipping Meals

Most bariatric patients assume that skipping a meal or two aids their weight loss goals; the reality, however, is the total opposite. Skipping meals means compromising on your nutrients and calorie intake, which shouldn’t happen after bariatric surgery. Instead, decide what and how much you need to eat to maximize weight loss results after bariatric surgery. Pack some healthy snacks to work or try a few protein-rich, bariatric recipes to stay on track with your weight loss goals.

Eat Small Portions

After undergoing bariatric surgery, eat small portions. Small portions help ensure that your newly created stomach pouch is not overstressed to churn and digest food, helping you avoid weight regain after bariatric surgery. If you feel hungry, eat an additional food portion after 3-4 hours or as prescribed by your bariatric doctor or dietician. Nonetheless, keep a check on your daily calorie intake.

In conclusion, remember these points if you are struggling:

  1. Claims that the “pouch reset” will shrink your stomach, reduce cravings and curb cravings are not backed by science.
  2. What you put in your pouch has more impact on weight loss than the size of your pouch.
  3. Focus on diet and exercise to continue weight loss.

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