Why do we start with a liquid diet? What happens if you eat solid food after gastric sleeve surgery? Let’s start by saying that it is not wise to eat solid food after gastric sleeve surgery. Your stomach was cut and stapled; it went through major stress. It is weak and it needs time to heal so that digestion can be easy and the stomach does not overwork itself while recovering.
You should know that it is not a risk worth taking. The time for solid foods will come in a short month. Trying to rush your recovery will only put more stress on your stomach. And the consequences may be undesirable.
Will I always get a leak if I eat solid food?
It is a high possibility that you can get a leak if you’ve eaten solid food. If you are careless during your liquid and/or puree diet and you get a leak, your bariatric surgeon might have to perform an emergency surgery and afterward, insert a feeding tube so that the leaking does not occur again. 10 minutes of “cheating” is not worth these risks. If you do cheat, you might have to continue with a liquid diet for months instead of a week after surgery.
Risk of complications you might face if you eat solid food
By following the post-op diet, you are actually dodging complications. If you were to break certain no-nos, you might face a few health issues such as;
- Risk #1: Leak
- Risk #2: Constipation
- Risk #3: Diarrhea
- Risk #4: Stricture
Let’s dive in!
Risk #1: Leak
This is the most dreaded complication. To digest the solid food you ate, your stomach muscles contract. And since you are fresh out of surgery, your stomach is weak and sensitive. Trying to digest solid food while healing can affect the staples on your stomach. And that can indirectly cause leaking and/or bleeding. Leaking can cause harm to your internal organs. It can even lead to death if not taken care of in time.
Risk #2: Constipation
Depending on what solid food you ate and how fast you ate it, gas can build up in your stomach. This will show itself as stomach pain.
Since your stomach hasn’t healed and cannot digest as effectively as before, you will have problems in your bowels as well. Because the poorly digested food will cause constipation and stomach pain. These are the symptoms of bowel obstruction.
Risk #3: Diarrhea
Your stomach is already trying to adjust to its new shape. So, your digestive system will already take a hit. You might face diarrhea even if you did not eat solid food. But if you did, it is going to be more intense and more painful. You will lose a lot of fluids from your body.
When you have diarrhea, you need to make sure that you do not dehydrate. Drink plenty of water. But remember, slowly. Drinking fast will only make things worse for your case.
Risk #4: Stricture
When you eat solid food before you were healed enough, a stricture may occur. A stricture on the scarred stomach tissue is basically the narrowing part of the stomach’s entrance. It is a painful complication. It can cause difficulty in swallowing, nausea, and vomiting.
If you are lucky, it will be acute and it can be treated easily. However, if it is chronic, you might need another surgery to fix it.
Falling for your cravings is not going to be worth the risk, trust me. In time, like 3 months, you will move onto your solid food diet and you will be able to eat almost everything, just more moderately. You need to be patient and consistent about your new lifestyle and eating habits.
What should I do if I ate solid food after gastric sleeve?
If you already ate solid food after your gastric sleeve surgery, the first thing to do is to contact your surgeon and/or dietitian immediately.
Your stomach is too weak and sensitive to digest solid food right now. So, you will most likely experience intense stomach pain. If you ate fast and did not bother to chew enough, gas will build up.
After letting your surgeon and/or dietitian know, you need to start walking and going up and down the stairs. That will help you release the buildup gas. If you feel nauseous, do not force it back. Vomit if you have to. Check-in with your surgeon and go for a check-up to see if there are any leaks or strictures.
How can I stop myself from eating solid food?
Now we know what happens if you eat solid food after gastric sleeve surgery. But what if you’re tempted?
First of all, I would like to state that you will not crave solid food after the procedure. You won’t even be able to finish a whole glass of broth sometimes. Of course, you will crave things. But that’s just old habits whispering in your ear. Your brain will catch up with you eventually. But, since the hunger hormone is cut out of your stomach, you will not even feel hungry.
If you get the sensation of hunger, it is probably thirst. Quench that thirst and you’ll feel a lot better.
Also, give your diet a chance. If you stick to it, you will start to adjust to it and no longer have a hard time following it. You can do this, I believe in you!
(1) Sarkhosh K, Birch DW, Sharma A, Karmali S. Complications associated with laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy for morbid obesity: a surgeon’s guide. Canadian Journal of Surgery. 2013;56(5):347-352. doi:10.1503/cjs.033511 Link