Yep, we’re going there, VSG family. We’re going to the bathroom. Or not going to the bathroom, as the case may be. Constipation is a not-uncommon complaint for vertical sleeve gastrectomy patients, and it hits bariatric populations for a number of reasons. Some of it can be chalked up to your new, lower carb gastric sleeve diet. Other culprits include supplements like calcium and iron, as well as limited physical activity as you recovery from the procedure.
This is often a taboo subject, but let’s try to get comfortable as we dive into tried-and-true techniques—directly from the experts, VSG patients themselves—to help you stay happy, healthy, and regular.
Food and drink tips
• “Coffee in the morning before I eat or drink anything else. It’s worked for me for five years since surgery.”
• “Fruit works for me—also milk.”
• “Mandarin oranges help.”
• “Water and plenty of fiber in your diet.”
• “I eat one ounce of sunflower seeds every day—only six grams of carbs. I also drink 128 ounces of water a day.”
• “Water first thing in the morning.”
• “I drink a glass of hot water every morning. Just run the faucet until it becomes hot but you can still drink it. I drink it down all at once.”
• “Eating grapefruit, watermelon, or a few sips of coffee in the morning usually moves things along.”
• “Every time I have Better Than Bouillon broth it helps me go.”
• “I love chia seeds. I make a pudding of 1/2 cup almond milk, three tablespoons chia seeds, some Splenda or stevia, one scoop Genepro protein, and some cinnamon.”
• “I started on Activia during my soft foods phase and added Metamucil fiber with OJ once a day, and that helped keep everything regular.”
• “I’ve discovered that taking coconut oil daily relieves constipation.”
• “Miralax every day (even if you don’t feel like you need it). My doctor said Dulcolax is fine once in a while, but you can quickly get to a point where you ‘need’ it to go. Miralax you can go on and off of with no side effects. You just need to be consistent (at first).”
• “I added in a magnesium supplement; that has been a game changer for me! I take Bio Cleanse from Plexus, and it’s made all the difference in the world!”
• “I take a product called Natural Calm every night. It’s a magnesium supplement. I also take Colace stool softener if needed. But usually the Natural Calm is all I need. I take two tablespoons in water mixed with a little Crystal Light every night before bed. I also take Align, which my GI recommended.”
• “Two probiotic gummies every day.”
• “I highly recommend the apple fiber from Herbalife.”
• “MCT oil works great. I add one tablespoon daily to my protein shake. But you can take it with a spoon because it has no taste.”
• “Take those gummy fiber things Dr. A has on the list of things we can take. They really work; haven’t had that issue since I bought them.”
• “Just switch your vitamins to SmartyPants with Fiber. I get my vitamins and enough daily fiber to keep me regular. My problem is gone.”
• “The Squatty Potty is pure genius!! (And it actually works.)”
• “Bath…The warm water will help.”
• “Lots of exercise.”
Tips on adjusting to your new “regular”
• “You don’t have to go every day. If you are eating high-quality food and not overdoing it, you will go less. You have made your body into a fuel eating machine so there is not as much waste. Carbs equal waste.”
• “Suffered through it and now enjoy nice pooping regularly. It gets better; don’t worry.”
Traditionally, the magic formula for preventing constipation is plenty of water, as much fiber as your diet will allow, and lots of activity. A daily supplement like Miralax is also completely safe. If you’re really in a bind (so to speak), ask your physician about using an occasional mild laxative.
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.