WHAT TO EXPECT: How you ate before your stomach cancer surgery will affect how many changes you will have to make in your daily routine.
If you are already a “grazer,” the changes in your routine won’t be that great. But if you mostly ate a couple of large meals a day, some changes will be in order.
For one thing, it will be necessary to get used to eating five or six smaller meals each day.
In some ways this won’t be too difficult because you won’t be that hungry. The challenge is in making sure you eat all those little meals because you need a regular supply of calories more than ever before.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT: As adjustments after stomach cancer surgery go, changing how you eat probably is not a big one. It is like any other change in your daily routine, it may feel odd at first but it soon starts to feel normal.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Rework your family meal routines: Once you’ve gotten through the early adjustment period, you and your family should be able to eat together and resume your normal mealtime routine. However, you may have to modify things slightly.
It is important to spend some time figuring out what works best for all of you. For example, we used to have a small snack before going to bed. We have now moved the time for this snack up to 7:30 in the evening. Eating too late or the wrong thing can cause heart burn or reflux once you are stretched out in bed.
Plan several snacks: Because you won’t be able to eat large meals you will need to plan for two or three snacks each day to get enough calories. These can be spaced through the day in whatever way works best for you. If you are working, be sure your employer knows your special needs and accommodates for them.
Have an early dinner: To prevent reflux problems when you’re in bed, you may need to move your evening mealtime up a bit or your bedtime back. Again, experiment with what works for you. We try to eat around 5:30 or 5:45 but we eat as late as 6:30 when we go out for dinner.
For special events, Gary eats even later with little problem.
Relax and enjoy mealtime: Hurried meals and stress don’t help with digestion even for people with a stomach. Try to plan a mealtime which helps you relax. Whatever works–good conversation, music, a good movie. The evening news might not be the best choice! We got through Gary’s long dinner times in the early months after surgery by watching a Doc Martin episode every night.
Pause after eating: You’ll probably want to plan on being able to sit for a couple of minutes or more after you finish your meal. Letting your meal settle is good advice for everyone.