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Experiencing reflux after your weight loss surgery?

Reflux is a common complaint post weight loss surgery and can be challenging to manage (and harder to live with!)

So what is reflux?

Reflux is when your stomach contents (food, fluid and stomach acid) move out of your tummy and up your oesophagus (a tube which connects your mouth to your tummy). This movement of stomach contents, in turn, causes irritation to your oesophageal lining and discomfort.

So why are you experiencing reflux?

While some people experience reflux before their weight loss surgery, for others it’s a new occurrence.

Managing your reflux after weight loss surgery

Reasons why you can experience reflux after weight loss surgery are:

  • You could be eating too much in one meal:  after surgery, your tummy is much smaller, so you don’t have to eat as much food for it to get too full and ‘overflow’.
  • You could be eating too fast: post-surgery you will find your food settles much better if you eat slowly and chew your food very well. The soft consistency of well-chewed food is preferred by the tummy and also eating slowly gives your tummy time to let your brain know that you have eaten enough (aim for satisfied, not full).
  • Eating too close to going to bed or lying down – lying down with too much food or fluid in your tummy will encourage the movement of content up your oesophagus… not ideal for a good night’s sleep.

Some strategies to help manage reflux post weight loss surgery

  • Try smaller more frequent meals (work with your bariatric dietitian to ensure you are still eating the amount of protein you need each day).
  •  Identify if there are any foods or eating patterns which cause or exacerbate the problem.
  • Eat your dinner (main evening meal) at least 2 hours before going bed, 3 hours is even better.
  • Continue to work with your Bariatric dietitian to lose weight as weight loss will help.
  • Medications – there are medications which your doctor can suggest which are both over the counter or via a script which can help manage the symptoms.

Related Read: Eating Enough Protein After Weight Loss Surgery

Written by Jane Stoltze, Accredited Practicing Dietitian