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Life after an oesophagectomy or gastrectomy

               muscles will help reduce this feeling. For the first 2 weeks you should choose a
               puréed diet, followed by a diet of soft and bite sized foods. You will receive
               detailed information regarding this. It is important to eat 'little and often' as you will
               not be able to cope with a large meal. You may lose some weight in the first few
               weeks after your operation. Weight loss is common after surgery and should slow
               down once your eating improves. Inform your Dietitian or Nurse Specialist if you
               are not eating or you continue to lose weight.

               Many people find they have a poor appetite during the early stages of recovery.
               Initially your sense of taste may be affected with food and drink not tasting of
               much. You may prefer more sweet or savoury foods than you did before. You may
               find that one week you like something and the next you don’t.

               Relax, avoid rushing meals and chew your food well before swallowing. Try using
               a smaller plate and serve meals which are attractive and colourful. If you are too
               tired to prepare a meal, have a ready meal instead. You may find food has no
               taste, so try highly seasoned or marinated food. If you find cooking smells are a
               problem, avoid the kitchen or use cold or microwaved foods. Perhaps someone
               else can prepare your food for you. However, for some people, the smell of food
               will tempt the appetite. In time, most patients will work out a best routine for
               meals. Every patient is different.

               ‘Little and often’
               The key to eating well after surgery is not to eat large meals, but to eat smaller
               amounts regularly. You may find this difficult at first but try to eat SIX small meals
               per day. Eat slowly and chew your food well. This will help you digest your food
               and prevent you feeling full too quickly. You will feel uncomfortable if you eat too
               much at one time. It is a good idea to use a small tea/side plate, so you are not
               tempted to serve yourself too much. You will gradually get to know what is the
               right amount for you. Try to have your last meal at least 2 hours before going to
               bed or lying down.

               While eating is important, so is the intake of fluids to maintain hydration. However,
               it is a good idea not to drink for 30 minutes before your meal or for one hour after
               your meal as it will fill you up and reduce your capacity for food. If you struggle to
               drink enough after surgery and you have a jej tube in place, speak to your
               Dietitian about using it for extra water.

               Gaining weight
               People may have lost weight prior to surgery and may continue losing weight after
               leaving hospital. However, it is beneficial to aim to maintain your weight to aid
               recovery. Some people never return to the weight they were prior to their illness. It
               may take anything between a few months to a year or longer – but by eating little
               8Life after an oesophagectomy or gastrectomy and often you should be able to
               maintain a good calorie and protein intake. However, there are ways to increase
               your intake (see appendix). If you become in any way concerned about your on-
               going weight loss, contact your Dietitian.

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