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Diet After Subtotal Gastrectomy

By Matt Berry

A subtotal gastrectomy is the surgical removal of a portion of the stomach. According to the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, the non-removed section of stomach is then reconnected to the small intestine or the esophagus. If you undergo a procedure of this magnitude, you will need to alter your diet and learn what foods best work with your body. This gastrectomy diet planning should be done with a nutritionist and a physician.


Gastrectomy procedures can be dangerous, but are often necessary for many patients. Most commonly, a subtotal gastrectomy is done for patients who have cancer in the stomach. According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, it is one of the most effective treatments for stomach cancer. The gastrectomy procedure can also be performed for ulcers, tumors and obesity, but the benefit gained must outweigh the risk.

Side Effects

Your stomach provides many functions in the digestion of your food. By removing part of the stomach, these functions cannot be completed or are not done as well. Due to this insufficiency, you may experience brittle bones from a lack of vitamin D and calcium absorption. Non-absorption of vitamin-B12 may hinder the production of red blood cells creating anemia. A sudden drop in blood pressure may also be experienced if too much sugar or starch is consumed. This is contributed to a sudden drawing of water from your body and blood into your small bowel so that it may break down the food your stomach was unable to. Plan for these side effects with your doctor and learn what you can do to minimize the problems.

Short-Term Diet

Foods for gastrectomy patients may be taken away completely for a short-term period. During this time, you may be given your nutrition by intravenous therapy, according to the National Health Service. The intravenous is usually removed in four to five days, and then food is re-introduced. During this time a light diet is usually prescribed, and you should avoid high fiber foods, as this may make you feel extremely bloated. This short-term diet can last for several weeks and more substantial food should only be added with the approval of your doctor.

Long-Term Diet

Getting the required nutrition after gastrectomy procedures can be tricky. "Practical Gastroenterlogy" states that you will need to be evaluated on a regular basis to determine if you receiving the required nutrition. After resuming regular eating habits, you should focus on high calcium foods like milk, cheese and eggs. Vitamin C is important as well and can be found in oranges, strawberries and broccoli. Iron and vitamin D needs to be consumed to round out your nutrition; find this in salmon and other oily fish, red meat and soy. Just remember to discuss what you eat with your nutritionist and continue to go to your follow up visits.


Not every food planning and diet will be right for all subtotal gastrectomy patients. It will be helpful for you to begin a food diary and list the foods that upset you and the foods that have shown to benefit you. Your doctor can outline the basics of what you can and should not eat, but if you experience any sudden pain, with or without eating, you should see a doctor immediately.

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