You can stretch your new stomach after gastric bypass surgery. And its easier than you may think. By falling back into old habits you are almost guaranteed to stretch your stomach.
Your New Gastric Pouch
You’ve had gastric bypass surgery and now you’ve done two things.
- You’ve bypassed part of your intestines which means less of the food you eat will get absorbed by your body.
- You’ve created a small pouch which is used as your new stomach. This allows less room in your stomach for food before you feel full.
Either one of the above two items leads to weight loss. And when you combine them, you have the most effective weight loss procedure, gastric bypass. So it makes sense that you do not want to alter either of these items. Unfortunately, the reason many people regain weight after gastric bypass surgery is because they alter item number 2. They stretch their stomach.
What Does Stretching Your Stomach Do?
When your stomach gets stretched, your stomach’s hunger signals get skewed. You’ve essentially tricked your stomach into thinking that it needs more and more food before its time to send out the, ‘I’m full’ signal. When you don’t feel full until you’ve gorged yourself, you are going to overeat.
And after time you also ruin your stomachs ability to tell you when you are really hungry. Instead of waiting until your stomach is empty and you need nourishment, your stomach starts sending the signal of hunger when its still half-full – because that is when you’ve been feeding it. Both of these quickly lead to weight regain.
5 Ways To Prevent Stretching Your New Stomach
- Don’t overeat.
- This is the obvious one but it needs to be said. It takes more than one meal to stretch your stomach and cause issues. However, if you give yourself a big meal here or there, it will eventually get out of hand. That’s how most battles with obesity start. So, do not overeat. Even if its Thanksgiving or Christmas do not overeat. Have an extra sweet or a small portion of the scalloped potatoes – number 4 on this list should help in those situations where big meals are common.
- Avoid fluids during meals.
- Its best to avoid fluids during and right after meals. Give your stomach some time to digest the fluids separately from your food. Consider drinking your fluids an hour or two before a meal. This allows you to eat a decent amount of food without filling up on fluids and ensures that you get enough fluids throughout the day.
- And don’t drink carbonated (especially diet – new studies show diet drinks can increase hunger) drinks at all. They can mix with your food and create gas that can put pressure on your stomach causing it to expand unnecessarily.
- If you are struggling with hunger then its better to snack in-between meals than it is to go into a meal extremely hungry. When we skip a meal, such as breakfast, its easy to get so hungry that we gorge ourselves the following meal. This is a good way to stretch your stomach. So instead, eat a snack in between meals.
- Try and make it a healthy snack and limit the portion size.
- Reward yourself with a treat rather than a large meal.
- Its important that you reward yourself from time to time. When our friends are eating chips and salsa or having ice cream its important to know that you can have a little bit as a treat from time to time. In fact, its important to change what you consider a treat. Its no longer OK to consider a large meal on Thanksgiving a treat. But it is ok to consider half a piece of chocolate a treat.
- Limit your treats to once or twice a week and keep the portion size small.
- Portion size is more important than nutrition.
- If you try to eliminate all treats and anything with fat then you are bound to fail. The key to success is moderation. That means that you shouldn’t eliminate everything good from your diet. If you do, you will probably end up cheating and then binging.
- Remember, food is not the enemy. Eating should be an enjoyable part of your life. The enemy is excess. Enjoy your food in moderation.
Stretched Your Pouch? There Is Still Hope
The stomach is an amazing organ. It’s able to accommodate change in ways that have helped us survive for thousands of years. When food is scarce, our stomach can adjust our hunger sensors to say, ‘I’m full,’ after just a small amount of food. And, if needed, our stomach stretches to accommodate more food than is really needed. This can also be helpful when you might not know when your next meal is. However, our stomachs haven’t learned how to deal with a regular excess of food. Again, that’s why its easy to stretch your stomach after gastric bypass.
If you stretched your stomach, get back on track. Your stomach will adjust its sensors and you’ll start to get back to normal. But you may need the help of a dietitian and support groups. Its worth it to call your surgeon’s office and let them know that you feel like you’re losing control. A decent surgical practice will have the resources you need to get you back on track.