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Your Pouch and Digestion Bariatric Edition

The way we cook

Isn’t it interesting how post bariatric surgery – some foods go down easily and others give us a bit of trouble ?  One day you can have yourself a serving of creamy chicken and the next day a grilled chicken breast makes you feel bad and like it’s stuck in the pouch.  When you cook that same chicken breast with a different method – steaming vs grilling – the softer version is going to the be the one which goes down easier.  It’s that the steamed chicken breast is more moist and easier to tolerate vs the grilled one which seems to be a bit harder.  If you want to make the chicken breast more comfortable to eat, add a bit of chicken stock or a bit of cream to your cooking method.  This adds additional moisture and makes it easier to digest.

Mechanisms that help or hinder

Sometimes we tend to eat quickly and not chew our food properly.  When you take large bites, food travels to the stomach in big pieces.  That makes it harder to digest and the food can feel like it’s just sitting in the pouch and making us uncomfortable for an extended amount of time.  We need to know that digestion begins in the mouth.  It begins by chewing the food and our saliva also helps as it is a part of the digestive system.  Slow down. Take your time.  Chew your food in your mouth before swallowing and allow it to mix with your saliva.  All of these tricks makes digestion easier and the food will go down more smoothly.


Watching TV or playing video games or reading can be distracting while you are trying to eat.  It’s always best to put away those types of distractions and focus on what is in front of you – your food.  In practice it is difficult to get this one right all of the time but let’s make an effort to focus on eating and chewing and enjoying the flavors and textures of our foods.  How many times have you eaten in front of the computer and not even remembered what you had to eat ?  It happens all the time so let’s allow ourselves to feel satisfied with our meals by not multitasking during them.

Stressed out

Try to have your meals in a relaxed setting and begin your meals by taking a few deep breaths and calming yourself down.  When we are stressed, our upper digestive tract can actually tighten making it harder to tolerate certain foods.  Sometimes eating alone can remove the distractions and stressors and allow us to consume and digest our foods more easily.    Think about how you feel prior to beginning your meals.  

Sit up straight

It sounds like some pretty basic advice but sitting with bad posture can negatively affect your digestion.  Don’t slouch or lie down when eating.  Help your digestive system work better by sitting up straight and pulling your shoulders back in a comfortable position.  Condition yourself to eating only in the “eating rooms” such as in the dining room or kitchen.  

These hints and tips should get you thinking about your habits and how you eat and how that food makes you feel.

Reach out with any questions you may have.

About the Author: Sheri Burke is an RHN Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over a decade and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post surgery bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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