Gaining Weight after Ivor Lewis Op, f... - Oesophageal Patie...

Oesophageal Patients Association
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Gaining Weight after Ivor Lewis Op, following Oesophagus Cancer

I am getting rather frustrated. In January 2011 I had the Ivor Lewis op & after a long haul back to good health I am now putting on so much weight.

My husband, unfortunately died in February this year & I have found life very hard since & although my family have been brilliant since Terry's death, my eating habits have left a lot to be desired.

Cooking for myself seems to be a pointless exercise, so I am eating a meal of sorts at 6pm. But by 8pm I am feeling hungry again & because it's easy I will eat a chocolate biscuit, packet of crisps or something that is easy to get & eat.

Usually after the Ivor Lewis Op the most people complain of is that they cannot put weight on.

I am trying to follow the Slimming World 7 day menu, but find evenings because I am bored very hard, by day I can stick to the diet plan.

I know what I should eat & do, but somehow cannot get myself motivated to do it.

Also I miss my husband very much, we were together for 47 years & married for 45 years.

12 Replies

Have you thought about buying a few ready meals for yourself, just to get you back on track? I had my op in 2012 but I'd lost my husband 7 years before that and nothing seemed to be 'normal' for a very long time after that. I had to try and carry on as normal tho' because my son is disabled. I used to buy m&s ready meals for a couple of evening meals each week - that way I knew if I didn't feel like cooking there was a meal in the freezer for us.

Its still very early days for you to be motivated by anything, I only began to feel 'more like my normal self' six years after I lost my husband, (we'd been married for 40 years) then a year later I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. I think if I'd tried to change my routines earlier instead of trying to carry on 'as normal' I might have got over my loss a little better. Sticking to routines that had worked for three of us, didn't work anymore and that sapped any motivation I had to anything. I was muddling thro', when I wanted to cope like I used to. Give yourself time and above all, be kind to yourself- you wouldn't put pressure on a friend in your position 'to lose weight' or do anything else that caused them stress would you. Treat yourself as you'd treat someone else in your position, be patient and be kind. God bless.

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Hi Magpuss,

Thank you for your reply & words of wisdom, I will try the ready meals & give up the diet thinking until I have got more used to my husband not being here with me. many thanks.


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G'morning Jan,

Happy to be of help wherever possible. I think we all expect far more, and better from ourselves than we do of others, and then end up nagging ourselves because we haven't done this or that as well as we expected to, or 'think we should'. I count every little achievement as a success now and am grateful for every little thing that 'goes right' and I'm much happier for it. Glad to hear that you're going to give the ready meals a go, some are better than others but I found the m&s range really tasty.


It took around 18 months from my operation for me to begin to get back to my normal weight and for muscle to appear. I make sure that I have at least one and sometimes two brisk walks per day.

Many will envy you because you've recovered so well that you can put on weight! But I suspect that exercise, finding something to alleviate the boredom and self discipline (the hard part) may be the answer.


A recomdation for ready meal-- Give Wiltshire Farm Foods a try. They are chosen from a catalogue and delivered to your door. My mother was living on these until she went into a care home. What were left in the freezer were eaten up by me. There is a good variety to chose from and always in the freezer when you don't feel like cooking. Enjoy life and don't worry about your weight!!


Hi Jan

I am two and half years post-op and just starting to exceed my pre-cancer weight, something I'm not pleased about!!

I live alone, with grown up children and grandchildren nearby.

I agree with other comment about buying in ready meals. I also but the M&S meal deal for two which then lasts me 4 meals - bargain or what!

It must be tough losing your husband after so long together, but he'd want you to look after yourself.

Although i work fulltime, I cook for myself most nights, but often cook 3 or 4 meals and chill or freeze the rest. I have a list of foods that work for me and tend to stick to those - stuff like shepherds pie; butternut or sweet potato soup; chicken anyway; spag bol etc

I also started making Davina Mccall's power balls - very tasty and kind of healthy - a handy snack - happy to pass recipe on.

My challenge is eating at work and whilst driving long journeys - and the fer/risk of feeling unwell after eating - which still can be quite unpleasant - I envy some of the people on this site who say they can eat full meals and 3 courses - steak, fish and chips etc

My eating is still quite challenging-not getting it down but the effect it has in my tummy and that's off-putting. I can't quite figure why I'm gaining weight with how little i eat? I also go to the gym/swim twice a week - so maybe its muscle ? LOL

I also find my tummy scar, whilst neatly done, protrudes now which doesn't look great, but heh, we're survivors - that's worth celebrating eh?

I use popcorn to snack as its relatively low fat, and but those small pre-packed cheeses to graze on - they're more expensive but convenient.

Good luck with your eating.

Hilary x


I am sorry to hear about your loss. It will take time to come to terms with it. As for your weight gain look on the bright side. I lost 4 stone. And I am having trouble putting it back on. You are lucky to be able to eat as much as you do. I am 20 months post op. I can only eat small amounts and that is restricted to soft stuff. Then I am up at 3a.m. being sick with bile reflux. Being over weight was something I always avoided now I wish I had had more weight to start with. So enjoy your food but try eating healthy foods. Good luck


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Grief does get progressively less difficult, but it does take the same sort of resilience to cope with life as you showed whilst recovering from your surgery. You do need to keep looking after yourself, but it is an effort to keep getting out and meeting people. I think a lot of people do find it difficult to feed themselves properly in your situation, and in one sense it is not all to do with your new digestive system after the surgery is it!

You will still have to avoid the food that gives you trouble, eat little and often, keep up your nutrition levels and so on, but also find ways of coping without your husband.

I think formulating your thoughts and writing them down is a good first step forward!


Hi JanA,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your husband. That is difficult at any time in life and after 47 years must be incredibly lonely for you! You sound like you are using the eating as making comfort for you your loss of your husband. That sounds very reasonable and even plausible so try not to beat yourself up to much as you have been through enough and certainly and incredulous loss! Maybe cut back to have a chocolate biscuit at night and half a bag of crisps at night then maybe the habit will get gradually less and less? Take care of yourself and so sorry for your loss!


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Thank you to you all for your kind replies & ideas, I will try & stop eating things that are bad for me, like sweets & choccies!!



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I can identify with your problem, I have trouble avoiding weight gain for exactly the same reasons as yourself. I am not to eat after 7 pm but I have always been hungry in the evenings, so I get a lot of acid from not doing as I am told!

Everyone I have met who had the Ivor Lewis was stick thin and had trouble eating! I am no different to before the op when I was always thinking about food. Obviously there are some things such as cheese which give me bile sickness that I avoid.

Do you get out of the house much? I have a dog and I believed he was instrumental in my quick recovery and fitness. Also, I'm alone in the evenings but having a dog makes me go out and I talk to other dog walkers.

I wish you well.



Interesting,, they wanted me to eat much after my OP,, difficult to eat,, and still many things i cant eat,,, i have just,, now a year post op,, put on 3 kilos, half a stone,, they were pleased,,,

I was a size 22 ( 16 .5 stone) and was at slimming world for a few years, and got down to 13 stone by dec 2018, and then got cancer in Jan 2019, well was diagnosed,,, they said eat eat, as you will loose much weight,,, i managed to get a stone on before my OP,, i now wear 12/14 clothes, love the slimmer me,, and was not happy to find im 3 kilos heavier,,, but they were very happy with me,,

I said i dont want to be fat again,, they said it can never happen, as i dont have a stomach as such now!!! Re once they removed the gullet, and stretched my stomach to make new gullet and stomach, that sits in my chest...

But they are sending me to see a physio to help build up muscle, as lost so much,, also to see a psychologist, to help me adjust to eating every 2/3 hrs, and not just 3 times a day..


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