Feeling sick after Ivor Lewis - advice please


My mum is three weeks post op, and I am hoping you can offer me a little advice.

She says that everytime she eats or try's to eat she feels sick. She has lost alot of weight, and I am just concerned that she isnt eating enough.

Any advice on foods that will help ease the feeling of nausea. Any foods not to eat. I have already read the hospital info and advice regarding diets etc but just wondered if anyone has any tips from their own experiences.

Also can she get some anti-sickness tablets from the doctor?

Many thanks


14 Replies

  • Hi Jules, Don't worry about your Mum losing weight, we all lose weight after this surgery. Don't try to make her eat more, that could cause other problems. She will probably find everything tastes different.

    The first things I ate were banana and hummous (not together) I had a very small amount, perhaps a quarter of normal , but I still couldn't eat it all.

    In fact, at three weeks post op., she's doing well to even be trying to eat. At three weeks I was still in ICU with a feeding tube!

    .Another thing I liked when I first started to eat was a cracker with butter on it. The butter was to make it slip down. And it tasted "clean" and not sickly.

    It's not really surprising we feel sick after our surgery, when our insides are so different now, but it will settle.

  • Thank you for your reply. It's just nice to know that what mum is experiencing is 'normal'. She has done so well so far, I don't want to push her but also feel like I don't want to let her down if she needs to be eating more..... I'll ease off then!! Did you have any luck with supplements at all? Thanks

  • Hiya, my partner is now 5 months post op, he also struggled with feeling sick, they prescribed & tried early every anti emetic you can think of, the sickness just happened to pass as time went on. We did try supplements but as many are milk based they didn't agree with him & did make him have stomach ache which soon resulted in diarrhoea. We stuck to water based shakes which seemed to agree better and slowly got back onto food. Crackers broken up next to him in a bowl so he could pick at them were the 1st thing he tried them a few crisps then slowly built it up.

    Hope it gets better for your mum soon. Try not to worry about her weight too much just yet. My partner lost an awful lot but it's starting go on slowly again now. Take care x

  • Also I've just noticed you posted about Derby hospital. My partner had his surgery at the northern general in Sheffield not too far away from yourselves.

  • Hi Laura, my son is having his oesophagectomy tomorrow at the Northern General. Hope this is the start of a new life for him.

  • Hope he does ok..its not very nice op and takes time to recover. Good luck to your son

  • Most of the supplements seem to be liquid, and I found I just couldn't take that quantity of liquid. I still can't, six years later. I still can't manage soup either. I eat mostly dry-ish food, and lots of sips of water in between meals.

    But that's just me, we're all different, as we're all slightly different inside.

    I did find Actimel etc. helpful because I had been on massive doses of antibiotics in ICU, and I took multivitamin tablets when swallowing became easier.

  • Hi, I had my op 23 years ago it's a long slow journey, my main diet was sweet potato and potato mash with gravy, and cauliflower cheese, I also found I could manage toast with banana on top. A

  • Hi Jules, I had my operation 5 years ago and had similar problems all food tasted sickly, even the smells of cooking made me feel sick, the taste buds are all confused but with time they will get better, I found that bovril was an ldeal drink,chicken soup,boiled eggs soft, toast helped me adjust. I lost 6 stone down to 10 but gradually gained weight I am now 12 stone 9 lbs. I can eat anything now even enjoy a cup of tea and coffee. Given time things will change for the better it's a long journey, the climb up the mountain is tough but when you reach the summit it will be like a new beginning.. She will get back to enjoying her food again believe me.


  • I wouldn't worry too much Jules, I was many months before I stopped feeling sick ,my feeding tube wasn't removed until I was nearly five months post op , most of the time I could only swallow Fortisip. (It didn't help that every time the telly was on it was a cookery program which was mental torture) I did eventually start to pick up with plenty of cream crackers and cheese and ginger nut biscuits which I found to be anti sickness foods

  • Hi Jules, my hubby is 3 months post op and I also worry a lot about his weight. Things are getting a little easier but he has to often lie down after eating as he feels sick and had a lot of tummy pains. I think its called dumping. Things like crunchy nut cornflakes or 1 Weetabix with warm milk or a poached egg with heavily buttered toast seems ok. Hope mum starts to feel better soon.

  • In the 'Guide to Life After Surgery' and 'Swallowing when it is difficult' that you can download; opa.org.uk/downloads.html it does give some recipes and ideas for mixing nutrition supplements (eg fortisip) with things like yoghurt and other things that slip down easily.

    The nausea may be that she is trying to eat too much at a time. You can have domperidone that helps some people, but you have to make sure that you take it at a set time before eating. Sometimes food can get stuck in the 'stomach' for too long because the pyloric sphincter at the base of the stomach needs a stretch, but it is only the surgeon who can advise about that. Some nausea may be caused by the digestive system being a lot closer to the throat than it used to be.

    As others have said, losing weight is almost inevitable, and your mother may simply feel like grazing during the day rather than coping with set meals. One of the polls we ran showed that people often lose quite substantial amounts of weight after the surgery, but we have to try and separate the idea of losing weight from not making progress health-wise. As long as your mother is taking in a reasonable amount of nutrition she will be OK, but she may end up at a new normal, lower weight.

    One of the things that makes us feel hungry is ghrelin, a substance that comes from the top part of the stomach, so if you lose that bit of your stomach your brain may no longer feel the same hunger signals. So it then becomes a question of eating by the clock rather than when you feel like it, and that is something that you have to look out for. But eating little and often is a well worn phrase that is really helpful, even if it does not seem like it at the time.

  • Hello Jules I am 6 months post op and am getting on much better now and can enjoy food again . I could manage Cream crackers and cheese from early days and start the day with 3 or 4 crackers and several pieces of cheese . Avocado pear is very high in calories and is worth trying also I liked prawn crackers and popcorn . I could not take fortified drinks and milk based foods were all problematic . Best wishes to your mother

  • Hi Jules, I am 2.5 years post op, and fortunately forgotten the sickness which will go - I never thought it would and wished I could just not eat at all. I think it is hard to get used to a new portion size in the early days. I eventually figured out that I needed a plate of food a bit smaller than my fist otherwise I overate. I still use this today.

    I also tried Peanut Slab which I found I could eat, and could graze my way through it easily and it helped keep my weight up. Best Wishes


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