If you have been previously diagnosed with stomach cancer, a gastrectomy may have been an integral part of your treatment plan. This surgical procedure refers to partial or total removal of the stomach in order to eliminate any identified cancerous cells. If you have a partial gastrectomy, the top half of the stomach will normally be left intact and attached to the small intestine, with the lower portion of the stomach removed. In a total gastrectomy, the esophagus is attached directly to the small intestine, completely altering the digestive process. However, life goes on, with or without a stomach. Here’s what you need to know about staying healthy after a stomach removal.
Eating after a stomach removal
Unsurprisingly, eating will be very different after a stomach removal procedure. Whether you have had part or all of your stomach removed, the way that you eat will need to change to reflect the new way in which your food will be digested. You won’t be able to manage to eat even regular portions of food and trying to force yourself to is likely to cause you to experience stomach pain, nausea, bloating, and even vomiting. Instead, you should move onto a diet comprising of between six and eight very small meals each day that is easier for you to digest properly. These should be healthy, nutritious meals rather than convenience meals that are high in fat, salt, and sugar. Getting the right nutrition is essential for your body to heal and for you to recover from your gastrectomy surgery.
What can I eat after a gastrectomy?
Your surgeon will give you very specific advice about what and how much you should eat following your gastrectomy procedure, and it’s crucial that you follow this advice as it will help you to avoid complications, help you heal, and ensure you don’t experience unpleasant symptoms while you adjust to your new diet.
You’ll be advised to stick to eating a variety of whole foods, including proteins, dairy, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. A good variety of nutrition will support the healing process and give you plenty of energy while you recover. If you are struggling with solid foods right away, try soups or smoothies instead. These can be packed with nutrient-rich ingredients that will give you the calories you need to heal but may be easier to consume.
You may find there are times where you don’t feel hungry, but it’s important to continue to eat regularly and you shouldn’t go more than three hours without eating. If necessary, choose to carry healthy snacks with you so that you aren’t tempted by fatty or sugary convenience foods.
Some patients who have had a gastrectomy will experience nausea, sweating, and flushing after eating. This is known as dumping syndrome and occurs when the food that you are consuming passes into the intestine too quickly. You can help to prevent this from happening by ensuring that you take your time when you eat, using it to thoroughly chew your food since your stomach won’t be able to do break down your food for you.
Your surgeon will give you all of the information that you need to stay healthy after stomach removal surgery. However, if you would like more advice, don’t hesitate to speak to our surgical team.