The Top 5 Things That Might “Bug” You About Your Band

We all have little things that bug us…No gas in the car. Cap left off the toothpaste.  Empty milk carton in the fridge. Toilet seat left up….I could go on and on and on (and some of my family members might say I do).   But what is it about your band, or living with your band that bugs YOU?  I’ve put together the Top 5 things that I seem to hear about most often and thought it might be good to examine them and provide some possible solutions on how to deal with these irritating parts of life with the band.

Number 5“My stomach is so loud you can hear it across the room“.  Yes, a rather frequent complaint and of course it usually seems to happen during a pregnant pause in a packed boardroom.  The sound and feel of the rumbling movement of the gas produced in your digestive system actually has a cool medical name:  borborygmus.  Sounds like a Harry Potter character.  I can even imagine what he (it’s definitely male) would look like. This gas is a result of the microflora in your gut digesting various substances in the food you have eaten.  Certain foods increase the gassiness depending on the ingredients.   Even just the sight, thought, smell of food can trigger the cacophony.  The brain stimulates the start of borborygmus (20 some odd years of nursing and I’ve never used that word until now..what a waste) and the stomach muscles start to contract and the digestive juices start to flow in preparation for food.  This happens with or without the band, however some people find that for some reason they notice it more post-surgery.

If you find you are becoming more and more a ‘gassy lass’ (or lad), examine the foods you have eaten.  Do a food diary and jot down the ones that are most bothersome.  Common culprits are the cruciferous foods such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower.  Yummy and oh-so-good for you but maybe best avoided at lunch if you have a wedding later on in the day.

Sometimes the stomach can be very noisy and the cause may simply be that you are thirsty and misconstruing this as hunger.  If you have had a sufficient meal and feel you shouldn’t be hungry so soon try having a glass of water and distracting yourself and see if the noises subside.

Sometimes this gassy noise is caused by having less food in your stomach for the muscles and juices to work on.  Try a small healthy protein snack such as a whole wheat crackers and a couple of oz of low-fat cheese, or 10-12 raw almonds, or a cup of low-fat yogurt and some berries and see if this settles the symphony.

Number 4“I burp and fart like a trucker”. (no offense to all of my truck driving patients out there)… Oiy….worse than the noisy stomach and harder to disguise.  You try coughing, wiggling your chair, wedging your shoe against the door…but nothing can replicate that sound and everyone knows what it was and from whom it came.  How to minimize these embarrassing eruptions?!

Burping is caused by swallowed air, and the most common reason is eating too quickly.  Remember:  baby fingernail sized bites, chew, chew, chew and try to take a minute between bites.  It is ok to drink with eating, however this may also lead to more swallowed air.  Whereas the ‘old’ rules said “no drinking for 15 minutes before a meal and 45 minutes after”, the ‘new’ rules as you saw in Dr. O’Briens ‘The 8 Golden Rules‘ allows small sips to be taken with a meal as long as you wait a minute or so after swallowing your bite of food.  Carbonated beverages can also obviously lead to more swallowed air and consequently more burping.  We recommend that if you do have the occasional carbonated beverage that you stir out most of the bubbles (unless of course it is champagne…in that case I would personally just suffer the burps).  Also watch the chewing gum as that can cause you to swallow more air as can drinking with a straw.

Flatus.  Doesn’t matter how old you get, farts are funny.  Unless of course you are on the production end.  Flatus, contrary to popular belief in my household occurs just as often in women as in men…women I believe simply just don’t get as much pride and pleasure out of the act.

Flatulence occurs when a food doesn’t break down entirely in the stomach and small intestine.  The food makes its way into  your large intestine in an undigested state, where normal harmless bacteria breaks it down.  This results in the production of gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide and in 1/3 of us methane (sounds like a bunsen burner experiment I did in highschool).  As much as 80-90% of rectal gas is formed by bacteria.

Certain foods produce more flatus than others because they contain more indigestible carbohydrates than others (i.e. beans).  Unfortunately sometimes foods that are high in soluble fiber such as beans,  some fruits and vegetables, oatmeal and legumes can cause the embarrassing gas.  These foods are healthy and good for you and fiber has so many health benefits (keeping your digestive tract healthy, helping regulate blood sugars and cholesterol levels, keeping you satiated and helping to prevent heart problems) that I would never suggest you eliminate them from your diet in the quest not to fart.  Instead try to determine which ones are causing you the most grief and limit them.  Watch the cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts (yay! on the ‘say no to brussel sprouts’!).

(Now for some ‘good news/bad news’:  Good news:  protein causes little gas as it is absorbed in the digestive tract before making it to the colon.  Bad news:  sugars, both naturally occurring and artificial sweeteners are gas-producers.  So another reason to keep the protein up and limit the sugar.)

Some tips to help control the flatus:

  • Stay hydrated.  Water helps keep stools soft and moving along the digestive tract, preventing some of the build up of gas
  • Use a food diary and examine the foods you eat.  Mark down when flatus is at its worst (hopefully not in church) and what you ate.  Common offenders can be:   processed/cured meats, most beans, especially dried beans and peas, baked beans, soy beans, lima beans.  Vegetables, such as cabbage, radishes, onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, can prove bothersome as can some fruits such as prunes, apricots, apples, pears. Carbonated beverages, fruit drinks, sometimes milk and milk products, such as cheese and ice cream may stir up the air as can packaged foods prepared with lactose, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing. Foods containing sorbitol, such as dietetic foods and sugar-free candies and gums bother some people.  By the process of elimination you can likely figure out what is causing the gas.
  • Beano:  a few drops can help prevent gas formation.
  • Chamomile, ginger and papaya teas are known to be good digestive aides
  • Peppermint oil is reported to relieve flatulence and related pain

(I think we have thoroughly exhausted this topic and can move on)

Number 3:  “I am always the last one at the table eating and my food is always cold.”  This is a common complaint from most banded people.  What is the major reason for this?  The rest of the population eats waaaaaaay too fast.  We scarf our food down as if someone is going to take it away.  That doesn’t help the banded person who is left alone at the table or who tries to eat too quickly at a restaurant or dinner party to avoid drawing attention to themselves and ends up in the bathroom vomiting.

There are not a lot of great suggestions for this one but I do have a few.  Really if you are eating a band-sized meal it should amount to approximately 20 bites of food.  With one minute between bites it should theoretically take you on average approximately 20 minutes to finish, which is a normal amount of time in which to consume a meal.  If it is taking you much longer than this there could be a number of factors taking place.  Perhaps you have too much on your plate?  Perhaps the food is of a dry or stringy consistency and is not ‘band friendly’.  This is difficult to avoid if you are being served at a dinner party, however easier to control if you are ordering from a restaurant.  Order foods that you know you can tolerate and be specific with your waiter on how you want it prepared (not overcooked, and maybe a little extra low-fat sauce/gravy/salsa on the side).  Perhaps your band is too tight?  It is easy to get into that maladaptive eating pattern of going for the softer, easier foods in an effort to avoid getting things caught.  If you are finding this is becoming a regular routine, ordering slider foods, you need a little fluid removed from your band.  You won’t lose weight going for the softer easier foods as they cross the band more quickly and tend to be higher in calories.  Having said that, if your band is perfectly adjusted except for the odd occasion in which you dine out, perhaps for that meal go for something you know will not give you difficulty.

Number 2:  “I miss my emotional relationship with food.”  I have had many, many people, my sister included share with me that they went through a bit of a mourning phase when they realized that they could no longer sit down and consume a large meal.  That large meal to many represented love, happiness, comfort.  It also was a major form of socializing.  Some say that many of their ‘pre-band friends’ have drifted away as there is a bit of animosity now that they are eating smaller, healthier portions of food.  This can definitely be hard to deal with.  Developing a new way of looking at food and the pleasure to be derived from it is important.  Dr. John Dixon’s mantra is “Eat A Small Amount Of Good Food Slowly“…I think these are great words to repeat to yourself and live by.  You need to continue to make meal time special.  Choose something delicious, put it on a plate and sit down with it to eat.  Savour every bite, chew it well and enjoy the flavours.  When you go to a restaurant order something you love, only pre-plan to split with someone or ask for half to be put in a take-away container.   Learn to enjoy the quality not the quantity.

And the Number 1 Thing that Might Bug you about your band:  “I’m not losing weight as quickly as I thought I would.”  I have to say I hear this one the most especially around 8-10 weeks post op.  This is a phase known to many as “Lapband Hell Stage”.  You are doing everything ‘right’.  You are eating less.  You are eating the right foods.  You are moving more.   The scale is moving in infinitesimal increments down….Please hear me now:  THIS IS NORMAL.  It gets better, really it does, and anyone who has had success with the band will tell you this.  Rome was not built in a day and I don’t believe that you can successfully lose weight in a healthy manner at breakneck speed and keep it off.  I always tell people at their two-week post-op visit that their hunger will return (most often with a vengeance) and not to be afraid…that this is normal.  At this point they are usually okay because they still are progressing through the diet phases not really experiencing much in the way of hunger.  However….come 6-8 weeks post-op the fear may set in.  I can tell when I call a patient from the waiting room, by the look on their face, that I’m going to get the “I spent $$$$$ on this surgery and I don’t feel ANYTHING“!!!!  I’m not being facetious, really I’m not.  This is a very understandable  fear and certainly not something to be taken lightly.   But we know that with usually one to three adjustments, done around 4-6 weeks apart, that this hunger will be controlled and the weight will be coming down nicely.  With a well-adjusted band you can expect to lose approximately 60-70% of your excess body weight at a rate of about 1-2 lbs/week.  The rate that you lose it however can depend on many factors.  Thing such as diabetes, an increase in age, menopause, less mobility, lifestyle, motivation, will certainly not prevent you from losing weight however it may make the weight loss a little slower.  Also remember that your body can go through natural plateaus where it just wants to stay where it is for a bit.  You may go 3 or 4 weeks with zero movement on the scale, then all of a sudden you’re down 4 lbs.  Remember you have this band for life.  While it is great and motivating to have realistic goals to keep your engine revved remember that this isn’t a race.  The weight-loss and wonderful benefits associated with it are coming, sometimes a bit more quickly than other times.

In closing here today, if you are really bugged by these things (and others) be sure to be vocal.  Discuss with others and get their feedback and investigate with your support network at your clinic ways to deal with these issues as well as any others you may have.  And remember, sometimes suffering the odd inconvenience is worth it when you consider the wonderful benefits you are  reaping from your healthier lifestyle.

Yours in Health and Flatulence,

Borboygmus 🙂 [Bodywell Fitness] Why I want to be a gastric band nurse blogger
Dear Sue, I have read all your pieces here and I wonder if you can hear me laughing? Laughing is the best medicine and should be taken and given daily. “The 5 things that might BUG you about the Band” — PRICELESS and spot on!!! Saying this I have enjoyed reading your articles, very informative. May I say you have been the best motivator, shoulder to cry on and the best advice giver. I always leave feeling so much better after meeting with you. Thank you for being a part of my lapband experience. The clinic has an amazing team and you all make a difference. Thank you. Best regards, Carol

About BodyWell Fitness

I am a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor, and Lapband Education Coach. I have worked since 2005 with the obese population and over 5000 lapband/gastric banded patients helping them to understand life with a gastric band, eat well, lose weight, get physically and mentally fit, become healthy and stay motivated. It is my goal to provide information, share knowledge and motivate people to help them reach their hopes and dreams.
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