Tips on how to put weight on and tack... - Oesophageal Patie...

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Tips on how to put weight on and tackle fatigue

Luvver profile image

My husband is just over 5 months post op and all things considered he is doing well. His biggest problem, like you all, is eating enough to maintain and even gain weight! He as lost just over 2 stone since his op. We keep a Food diary, try to choose high protein foods but it is nigh on impossible to get much more than 1800 calories in each day. If he eats too much he’s in danger of dumping, or feeling full and nauseaus.

He is also still very fatigued, but When he is out with friends he picks up considerably which makes me feel that some of his issues are related to his psychological state. I know he is not making things up, but when he doesn’t feel so good, then naturally it makes him feel ‘down’, then it’s difficult for him to lift his spirits. He has seen his GP and is now on an anti-depressant which we hope will help.

Any tips on how to maintain your weight and lift his spirits will be gratefully received. Thank you everyone for your posts, they are of great comfort, it’s good to know we are not alone!

12 Replies

One of the biggest problems we face is worrying about losing weight and how much to eat. Your body will tell you what you can eat, little and often is the secret, loads of snacking. Do not force food into your system, guaranteed to make you ill. Do not eat in the evenings. I like breakfast time and graze quite a lot, one weetabix followed by toast and cheeses fruit juice and tea. All taken over about a two hour period. I like a small beer at lunchtime which helps to give me an appetite but remembering that my stomach is so much smaller now.

Exercise is so important, once again it helps with appetite, digestion and keeping regular. I lost over 3 stones and am only just beginning to gain weight after 18 months. OK, I needed to lose the weight so it wasn't such a problem. Having a dog to take for walks is a bonus, just getting out cheers me up, To put on weight you need to improve muscle tone, hence exercise. Good luck.

Luvver profile image
Luvver in reply to slobjohnb

Thanks for your tips, we went to the gym together this morning, he did well and is def going again. Your breakfast sounds good, variety of texture and flavours. We are going on holiday soon so will give it a try! Thanks again, and good luck with your continued recovery.

Hi, I am 12 months post op and lost around 4 1/2 stones. Since the op I also keep a food and weight diary. I weigh myself same day and time every week and try not to focus too much on weight gain, I was told it is very hard to put weight on whilst on chemo. I have been on chemo since August last year. I still look at it like we who have had operation are the lucky ones and everything after is a bonus. My dietician has advised me about eating and it is the best diet you can be put on. Full fat everything. If your husband is partial to McDonald's grab a milkshake. I was told by the CNS at diagnosing hospital I would never eat sweet things again but since operation I have never had so many and seem to be able to tolerate everything apart from dry meat and stodgy bread. I think the best way is try and get as much variation into diet so you don't become almost allergic to the foods you go to all the time. Cheese is good for me to sit and pick away at with veg or thin sliced meat. Post operation we have to learn to eat in a completely different way to rest of family and at same time work out how our new bodies pipework operates. It takes time and is frustrating at times but if I look back to where I was in April last year I was not able to drink or eat so it is a major improvement the stage I am at now. Keep fighting to find your new normal and getting stronger every meal/day.

Best of luck.


Luvver profile image
Luvver in reply to Bunny69

Thanks for your response, you are so right about being the lucky ones, we didn’t realise that only about 30% are able to have the op. We all must keep that in mind when times get tough! At the moment my husband is lactose intolerant so we have to be a bit careful, other than that he can eat most things, but definitely gone right off eggs. We’ll keep battling on, good luck to you too.

You’ll find that the anti-depressant will help as one of its common side effects is increased appetite.

Also, eat whilst watching a tv show about food makes me eat much more.

A beer half an hour before food will help also.

When I really want to put some weight on very quickly, I have 4 slices of slightly burnt toast with lots of butter. It works out to about 1000 or more calories for breakfast and it takes me about an hour to eat. Once the toast is toasted, I put a large dollop of butter on it and melt it in the microwave.

Luvver profile image
Luvver in reply to jay2908

Thanks for your tips, your suggestion about the toast and butter sounds good, i’m sure he’ll give it a go. Thanks again and good luck with your continued recovery .

Has your husband had his vitamin B12 levels checked? Mine has injections every 3 months and it makes a big difference to his energy levels.

Vitamin B12 and iron levels to be screened by GP.

If I read correctly he is not malnutritioned. So if I speculate 5 months after the IL weight stabilisation should be primary concern than trying to add weight. Excessive persistent efforts to add weight could counter by frequent dumping which sets back the physical progress as well emotional well being.

Each patient will respond to post IL in his/her own unique way, most if not all will lose weight. There are extremes to that as well.

Fatigue and tiredness will be prominent 5 months post IL even without post IL complications.

You have already noticed his mood is better a d positive when he gets social time. That will be much better than medications for mood, In my personal view. I am not a medical expert.

Also please do not forget that he requires to hydrate more in combination with the calories being added. With stomach capacity limited there will be frequent dosing of food and liquids alternate times.

In summary if I were you I will not worry about adding more weight,(unless dieticians or go concerned him being underweight and undernourished). As long as there are minimal to none dumping episodes and weight being stable, focus could shift on emotional wellbeing. Physical wellbeing follows with the previous.

All the best wishes.

Luvver profile image
Luvver in reply to Mauser1905

Thank you for your response, all the info we receive is very helpful, his weight is ‘sort of’ stable and nausea and dumping not so bad so we’ll keep battling on, onwards and upwards! Best wishes to you too.

We asked about that but apparently his b12 should not be affected as he still has his stomach. Also he takes a multi-vit daily which has 100% of daily b12. We have been to the gym today and he did really well, also these last couple of days he hasn’t seemed quite so fatigued so fingers crossed!! Good luck to you and your husband and thanks for your response.

I am now just over 8 years post op and throughout, have had difficulty in eating. I simply have no appetite, but I can always manage sweet things. Accordingly, I try to eat as much fruit as I can within reason, and every day, mid-morning, have fairly high fat sweet yoghurt, whilst mid-afternoon, I drink full fat milk sweet chocolate. In the evenings, I snack on plain cashew nuts. Otherwise, I just do the best I can at the normal times of breakfast ( Albran), lunch ( invariably crushed avocado with olive oil, well seasoned on buttered toast, and as often as not, fish with not much else - perhaps a few french beans or peas - as an evening meal. I suppose that I lost the best part of a couple of stones post op but I was about one of them overweight and since I have now put another stone on, I reckon that I am just about ideal weight. It all takes a lot of time and patience to adjust, and I don't have much of the latter, but I reckon that I am now about there.

Best wishes,


The last thing he wants to be eating is "burnt toast", unless he wnts cancer to come back. Burning starch produces acrylamides which causes cancer. thats why you should always boil potato's before frying them. I would also cut sugar out as it causes dumping whereas something like Xylitol doesn't and won't leave that horrible sticky nasty taste that sugar does. Also cheese is bad and so is butter.

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