Maybe it’s the ambient lighting, the simplistic romantic atmosphere, or even the robust aroma you enjoy from fine dining Italian restaurants, but one thing we can all agree on, the reason that keeps you going back is the pasta! But for many gastric sleeve patients, they often wonder “eating pasta after a gastric sleeve?”. Like any weight loss surgery, gastric sleeve patients undergo a recovery period afterward to help their bodies heal.
This becomes especially important considering the surgical structural changes made to their stomach, which has reduced by 80% of its original size and well, now looks more like a banana in shape. Recovering from surgery can often leave a person with a lot of questions, especially about nutrition. Weight loss surgery recovery comes in phases and after each phase, only then can more advanced food sizes and variety be added in due time.
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Can I eat pasta after gastric sleeve surgery?
“Can I eat pasta after gastric sleeve surgery?” you may wonder. Well, the short answer is YES eventually you can consume pasta again after gastric sleeve surgery, but it is complicated. You see, after a patient has gastric sleeve surgery they must adhere to a strict post op 4-phase diet during recovery.
Eating small portion sizes, specific types of food, and at the right times is key to weight loss success after gastric surgery, maintaining proper nutrition. The 4-phase diet is essential to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of your gastric sleeve surgical results. “What is the post op 4-phase diet?” you may ask, let’s simplify it for you…
Post op 4-phase diet
Phase 1 – Liquid food
Duration: 1 month
Daily food limit: 64 oz of liquid / day
Food examples: Chicken broth, apple juice (must dilute with 50% water), smoothies (diluted), protein shakes, skim/1% milk, and sugar-free drinks.
Phase 2 – Pureed food
Duration: 1 month
Daily food limit: 1.5 oz (3 tbsp) for 3 meals/ day. 64 ounces of liquid; a maximum of 60 g carbs and 30 g fat.
Food examples: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, fat-free blended beans, scrambled eggs, tofu, blended seafood, etc.
Phase 3 – Soft food
Duration: 2 months
Daily food limit: 3 oz maximum meal size for 3 meals/ day. 64 oz a day liquid; maximum 60 g carbs and 30 g fat.
Food examples: Seafood, beans, Lean meats, Boiled eggs, meatballs, soup, fruits, protein bars/drinks, pudding (sugar-free).
Phase 4 – Solid food
Duration: Starts 6 months after surgery
Daily food limit: 4-6 oz maximum meal size for 3 meals/ day. Maximum 60g carbs and 30 g fat.
Food examples: Start with any lean protein, then eat any fruit/veggie, and finally add starches (beans, whole grains, alternative pasta forms preferred).
Why pasta is not a tolerated food for VSG patients?
Why pasta is not a tolerated food for VSG patients is simply because of the anatomical changes to the stomach after surgery. As we eat pasta and it starts to digest moving from the oral cavity down into the esophagus, it becomes gummy in texture. Pasta contains starch. So, pasta turns into a paste inside the body and this “paste” can get stuck in the new surgically defined opening of the stomach known as the stoma.
- The stoma is the new hole to the pouch or banana-shaped stomach after surgery and if the partially digested pasta or “paste” covers or gets blocked within the stoma, it can cause an array of digestive trouble for patients.
- Pasta can only be a viable food option during Phase 4 and even then should be approached with caution as well as increased chewing before swallowing. Healthier pasta alternatives (typically made from veggies) are a preferred choice.
- Eating lower carbohydrates, higher protein, and low fat helps to maintain long-term weight loss success.
Problems if you eat pasta after gastric sleeve surgery?
- Problems if you consume pasta after gastric sleeve surgery can arise by eating pasta too early during recovery (i.e., in the wrong diet phase) or by eating too much pasta. These problems can make a person feel uncomfortable or could even go as far as to put a person in danger. Problems caused by eating pasta too soon or too much pasta can include: nausea, vomiting, heartburn, cramping, gas/bloating, fever, diarrhea, shortness of breath, etc.
- Dumping syndrome is also a risk that causes nausea, vomiting, fever, dizziness and sweating when food enters your small intestine too quickly after leaving the stomach.
- Dumping syndrome can be caused by eating too fast, or too much, or too much fat. Dehydration and weight gain are also risks.
- Similar symptoms can occur as problems associated with poor nutrition or eating pasta after gastric bypass surgery as well.
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Pasta alternatives after VSG surgery
Pasta alternatives after VSG surgery include many pasta types which mimic the taste of traditional pasta, but have fewer carbohydrates and fat. For example, pasta alternatives may include: egg noodles, veggie pasta, chickpea pasta, whole grain pasta, lentil pasta, etc.
RELATED READ: Gastric sleeve post op diet recipes
Final words on eating pasta after gastric sleeve
Final words on eating pasta after gastric sleeve surgery are to promote the understanding that pasta is indeed a food option after surgery, but only at the right time and in the right amount. Eating pasta too soon or eating too much is never a good idea, especially after having a surgical procedure like a gastric sleeve, which essentially shrinks your stomach size significantly. Following the proper nutritional advice obtained by your physician after surgery is fundamental to maintaining long-term weight loss success, a healthy recovery, and if not adhered to precisely as instructed, can even be dangerous.
- The University of California San Francisco (UCSF). 2021. Dietary Guidelines After Bariatric Surgery. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/dietary-guidelines-after-bariatric-surgery https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/dietary-guidelines-after-bariatric-surgery. Accessed: 04, Mar. 2021.
- The University of Michigan. Sleeve Gastrectomy Diets to follow At Home. 2021. Web. https://www.med.umich.edu/bariatricsurgery/resources/Post-op-Diet-Sleeve.pdf . Assessed: 04, Mar. 2021.
- Brigham and Women’s Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Nutrition Guidelines for Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass. Web. https://www.brighamandwomens.org/assets/bwh/surgery/center-for-metabolic-and-bariatric-surgery/pdfs/nutrition-guidelines-sleeve-gastrectomy-and-gastric-bypass.pdf. Assessed: 04, Mar. 2021.
- Mayo Clinic. Gastric bypass diet: What to eat after the surgery. Web. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/gastric-bypass-surgery/in-depth/gastric-bypass-diet/art-20048472. Accessed: 04, Mar. 2021.