Overeating & Binge Eating After Bariatric Surgery

Whether you get gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeve surgery, a gastric band, or any other type of weight loss surgery, the goal is to reduce the total amount you eat and absorb into your body. As a result, overeating after gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery becomes much more difficult.

However, it’s not impossible, and overeating after weight loss surgery can have some serious consequences, including but not limited to reversing any weight loss that occurred. So what happens if you overeat after bariatric surgery?

Risks of Eating Too Much After Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass Surgery

The most common response to overeating after bariatric surgery is severe abdominal pain and cramps. Part of what makes recovering from weight loss surgery so difficult, and yet so crucial to long-term success, is that it causes your body to “punish” overeating behaviors with pain. Not only will you not be able to eat as much, you won’t WANT to due to the pain.
Another common response is that your body rejects the food outright. Vomiting can occur if you eat too much, but it can also occur if you eat the wrong foods at the wrong time, as well.

Diarrhea is another risk that presents itself when eating too much after gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery. This is due to malabsorption of food as your digestive system tries to process it.
Other more serious complications may occur if a patient overeats after surgery, and these complications can lead to severe intestinal and/or stomach problems.

All these risks aside, your risk for experiencing these complications goes down the more time has passed post-op. As a result, it’s not uncommon for people to get into a groove with eating, and then slowly fall back to overeating behaviors. This can result in a reversal of weight loss. So what can you do to prevent this?

Eat Small Portions

Keep your portions small. Your doctor will help you with recommended portion sizes at various stages post-op.
By eating small portions, you’re more likely to absorb more of the nutrients in the food while also feeling more full.
If you’re in a situation where large portions are presented to you (like at a restaurant or at a social gathering), make sure you portion off the food you get and leave the rest for later, or for someone else to have. Don’t be afraid to refuse large portions of food, as you just had surgery and it could be dangerous!

Eat Slowly

Overeating behaviors often develop early in life alongside eating rapidly. Eating fast causes you to feel less full, allowing you to eat more. After gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery, this could result in very painful consequences.
By eating slowly, you will allow your body to tell you when it’s full and doesn’t want any more food.

Drink Between Meals, Rather Than With Meals

Instead of drinking with a meal, which takes up space in the stomach, you can drink between meals. This has two effects. The first effect is that it prevents potential complications from overeating, as there are risks if your stomach has far too much food in it. The second effect is that it allows you to feel full throughout the day. When you have had something to drink, you are no longer hungry for a short time.

In Summary

● Overeating after gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery can lead to painful complications and reversal of weight loss.
● Eat small portions, and let your doctor tell you how much you should be eating.
● Eat at a slow speed.
● Drink water and other beverages between meals.