After weight loss surgery, one common side effect is occasional constipation. Most patients agree the benefits of weight loss surgery outweigh the challenges. One of the most frequently asked questions after surgery is about avoiding constipation. Bariatric surgeon Dr. Aviv Ben-Meir shares his tips for avoiding constipation and other gastrointestinal issues after weight loss surgery:
Fiber + Hydration
To have consistent bowel movements, we need an adequate amount of fiber in our diet and must stay well-hydrated. After weight loss surgery, you will feel full with a small volume of food. This factor, combined with the dietary rules you will follow for long-term weight loss and maintenance, can lead to eating less fiber and drinking less fluid in your daily routine.
When you’re planning your meals, remember to have protein as the first part of your meal. With the remaining room in your pouch or sleeve, try to fill up on high-fiber vegetables. Most people need to aim for 2 grams of fiber per every 100 calories consumed.
Supplements and Meal Replacements
Some patients use meal replacements and fiber supplements to help balance their diet. Some meal replacement protein bars, such as Quest Bars (which we sell in our in-office store), are a good source of dietary fiber. If you don’t have enough room in your pouch for fiber through foods, you can also use a fiber supplement such as Benefiber. Follow the instructions on the container.
A word of caution: a sudden increase in your fiber intake can make you quite uncomfortable with bloating, gas, abdominal distention and pain. Start slowly and gradually increase your fiber over several weeks and always drink lots of low-calorie or calorie-free fluids. Remember not to count caffeinated beverages in your total goal of 6-8 cups of fluid per day.
The dietary changes required after weight loss surgery can seem overwhelming. That’s why our Lake Health Bariatric Surgery team includes dedicated dietitians who meet with patients for their pre-operative nutrition education and post-operative dietary instruction, as well as conduct pre- and post-operative education and support groups to help you meet your goals.