Food Stuck After Gastric Bypass

Bariatric surgery is hard enough without having to worry about food getting stuck after gastric bypass surgery. 

Unfortunately, this is a common part of gastric bypass side effects and a problem that many patients struggle with post-surgery.

We know that a blockage after gastric bypass surgery can be annoying and uncomfortable, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it. 

Luckily, it can easily be remedied with modified behavior and small changes in the way you eat. 

In this article, we look at why food may get stuck after gastric bypass surgery. We also explain what can be done to prevent this in the future.

What This Article Covers:

Food Stuck After Gastric Bypass

Why Does Food Get Stuck Following Gastric Bypass Surgery?

The main cause for food getting stuck after gastric bypass surgery is due to a smaller stomach opening. 

This means that there is too much food to pass easily from the esophagus to the stomach. 

Let’s look at what causes this in detail below. 

Your Bites Are Too Big

Food getting stuck is a main cause of pain after eating after bariatric surgery.

The problem after gastric sleeve and bypass is that food enters through a smaller opening and eating too much at once can result in food moving through the esophagus to the stomach pouch slower, feeling like food is stuck. 

This opening is commonly called a “stoma” (which is the Greek word for “opening”), and it only lets a small amount of food through at a time.

Many people think they are taking “small” bites when in fact the bites are still too large. 

You need to start with bites the size of a black bean to ensure the food passes through easily. 

You're Not Chewing Food Properly

You also need to chew your food properly and eat slower. People often take small bites, but eat too fast. 

This means that too much food is trying to reach the stomach pouch at once, leading to food getting stuck in the lower esophagus area. 

You need to allow time for each bite to properly pass through before taking the next one. 

In addition, if the food is not chewed properly, it may not be the correct consistency to pass through. 

You're Stressed and Anxious

Food can also get stuck due to stress, which is a common symptom amongst bariatric patients. 

Often the pressure of eating right, losing weight, and healing can lead to stress and even depression after bariatric surgery

Hormone changes after bariatric surgery may also play a role. 

This is why it is necessary to be relaxed while eating. Relax the body and the jaw and take slow and mindful bites. Sometimes people put their fork down between bites to force them to eat slower. 

If you have experienced anxiety due to having your food get stuck before, you may be nervous when eating again. 

In this case, just remember that eating small portions, eating slowly and in a relaxed manner will minimize the chance of food getting stuck. 

food stuck after bariatric surgery

What Will Happen When Food Gets Stuck?

It can be daunting once you realize that your food is stuck. For many people, this is a traumatizing experience. 

The sensation of food getting stuck is also referred to as “plugging,” and many people report symptoms of discomfort when it happens. 

Some of the most common symptoms may include nausea, difficulty swallowing, and esophageal spasms. You may also experience chest pain and begin salivating more. 

In some instances, nausea may lead to vomiting. 

In other instances, the esophagus can become permanently stretched or damaged, which can lead to pain, discomfort, and acid reflux. Typically, this only happens when food consistently gets stuck.

What should you do when this happens? The stomach pouch can become irritated or inflamed. It is important to follow the correct procedure when food gets stuck. 

What To Do When Food Gets Stuck?

Relax

When you realize food is stuck, you can become anxious or nervous. The important thing is to relax. Breathe deeply and remember, this is one of the common problems after gastric bypass surgery.

Move

When your food gets stuck, you can try to stand up and walk around. 

Movement may assist with digestion. As an added bonus, it will also take your mind off things. 

Sip Something

You can also try to take tiny sips of room-temperature fluids, which may reduce feelings of discomfort. 

If you want to drink something to ease discomfort, stick to room temperature water or juice to soothe the inflammation. 

Wait For It To Pass

The good news is, the food will either come back up or eventually pass through the stomach pouch.  

If the food comes back up, this is called productive belching. In fact, burping after gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery is extremely common. 

If you do not belch, this means that the food managed to pass through the stomach pouch. 

The important thing to remember is that, in most cases, the problem will sort itself out on its own. 

Watch What You Eat For A While

If you have experienced this sensation of food getting stuck, it is extremely important to watch what you eat for a while after. The stomach pouch has already become irritated and any additional pressure will lead to more symptoms. 

It should also be noted that dense proteins are more likely to get stuck and irritate the stomach than other foods, so take care when you start introducing them into your diet again. 

It is often advised that you return to liquids and shakes, such as a bariatric high protein meal replacement or a gastric bypass soup, at least for a few meals after food gets stuck. This allows the stomach to settle and for the inflammation to subside completely. 

However, you should not let this discourage you from eating solid foods in the long run. The sooner you try to return to the original diet plan, the better. 

If the symptoms you are experiencing do not subside or are unbearable, you may need to seek medical attention. 

Concluding Remarks

The most important thing you can do when you feel the pressure of food getting stuck is to stay calm. This is a common side effect and can happen to anyone. 

When this happens, calmly walk around or sit down and merely wait for it to pass. 

Small sips of liquid may relieve some feelings of discomfort, but be sure to only drink room temperature juice or water. 

The most important thing to do in preventing this from happening again is properly chewing your food, eating slower, and taking smaller bites. 

It is also important to “rest” your stomach after an episode of having your food get stuck. 

If you follow these guidelines, you will minimize the chances of your food getting stuck post-surgery. 

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**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.