My Personal Journey and Tips to Getting the Most out of Your Band

Spring 2007

Volume One / Number Four

by Gaspar Rosario

Most people know that I’ve had the gastric band for a couple of years now. Through my personal experience, and that of our patients, we have discovered that there are several instances that will have an effect on your gastric band. Personally, I have had a wonderful experience, although some people worry that they will no longer be able to enjoy food. On the contrary, having the gastric band has taught me how to really enjoy the food I’m eating. It is important that you not confuse binge eating with enjoying your food. Instead of swallowing my food practically whole and then washing it down with a 2 liter bottle of soda, I have learned to enjoy and savor the smell, taste and texture of the food I am eating. As you can tell, I still enjoy my food; the only difference is that the portions that I consume are just enough to feed myself and not my entire family.

After gastric band surgery you must learn to chew well and eat slowly. If you don’t, you will vomit and regurgitate what you’ve eaten. What is the difference between vomiting and regurgitating? Vomiting is when you bring up food that has passed below the band. This type of vomiting is more consistent with having a stomach flu or intestinal bug. It is usually forceful in nature. I consider regurgitation as the bringing up of what is above the band. When this occurs, you will most likely bring up what you just ate or bring up a thick, clear mucous, which may be frothy and bubbly or thick and stringy. This is your saliva that has been accumulating at the band site, and because your small pouch is no longer able to accommodate the food and the saliva, you will be forced to bring it up. This is a very common occurrence in our patient population.

Your gastric band is affected by many factors. The following are things to consider, and are important, but most people do not realize the effect they can have on their gastric bands. Did you know that:

  • Trying to eat breakfast can be troublesome. Early to mid morning the gastric band feels much tighter. This may be due to circadian rhythm and cortisone secretions, so skip breakfast. If you are able to tolerate a protein shake to get your day going, by all means, please do. It might be helpful to thin out the protein shake by adding water or skim milk to it.
  • Emotional upset or stress can be troublesome. These two physical states lead to increased adrenaline which causes decreased motility and peristalsis. Just choose not to eat under these circumstances.
  • Flying (or high altitude) and menstruation can be troublesome. These events can lead to fluid retention or edema. This can also cause your band to feel tighter. If this is the case, stay on liquids or mushy food for about a day, then advance your diet as you are able to tolerate.
  • Eating in a busy environment can be troublesome. Choose to take a break; excuse yourself from the table for a few minutes. You will be amazed at how helpful it is to take a break and walk, breathe deeply and stretch.]

Hopefully, these tips will be helpful in explaining why your gastric bandfeels tighter or looser throughout the day. Depending on some, or any, of the factors mentioned above you will have good days and bad ones too. Take each day one at a time.

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