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Oesophageal Patients Association
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Tightening after eating

Hi all - am asking this question on behalf of my prtner who had his Ivor Lewis in December 2011 - he has been having a problem with his stomach - or what is left of it !- tighening up after he eats - he describes it as feeling like a rock and whilst not painful if is very uncomfortable and does mean he has to go and lie down after each meal. He would really like to think about going back to work in the next month or two but it does not seem very practical if he has to lie down after eating . Does anyone else have experience of this ? I wonder if perhaps he is eating too much but he is not being sick or regurgitating so dont think so, is this normal, will it pass or does he just have to learn to live with it ? Many thanks.


15 Replies

He may be eating too much as dont forget the stomach is smaller ! I still have problems if eat toomuch It feels like cramp in my stomach ? Also still early days in recovery is only 5 months so hang on in.I am now 14 months post op as you may know from Macmillan site.I had to stop work as too tired and all the digestive probs but it suited me to stop.You can get various medications.eg stuff to make food travel through system quicker so that may be a thought?



Thank you Griff - it is in my mind that he may have to take early retirement but I know he wants to give it a go - we do take Metoclopramide which is supposed to aid with transit of food through the gut. Agree though - five months is still early days. Thanks for the reply.

L xx


Hi there

I'm three years past the op - and still suffer if I overeat - exactly as you describe. I keep relearning the same lesson: "Little and Often" !!


Hi Lyn,

What is your partners name?

Don't worry, this is a normal issue after this surgery which will ease, especially as you both will learn how much, when and what to eat for a comfortable near normal meal routine.

The Stomach can also stretch slightly over time so meal size may increase very slightly with some people.

6 months out is still very early days yet, it will get better and easier over time.

From my experience, there can a few things to look out for;

It can the amount being eaten, I used to make sure that all meals were small and eaten slowly.

Little 'n' Often, and all the wrong things seemed to work.

I also had to drink separately, try an hour before or after eating.

It can also be what your partner is eating, if it does not crumble or reduce quickly, it can bind and cause pain, discomfort and other problems.

Bread is a big no no for some people.

Sugar, I had a lot of issues which went away as soon as we realised refined sugar was in the food causing problems, un-refined sugars are fine for me.

Hot drinks drunk quickly can affect some people.

Sweets were out but some Chocolate was OK, try Green and Blacks 85% dark

Try to keep a diary of the foods which do cause problems, it will help to identify the ones to avoid for now (things can change after time so re-introduce in 6 - 9 months)

I am nearly 6 years out and lost 75% of my stomach.

Over eating can still cause problems for me so I do sort of graze all day instead of 3 main meals.

When eating out, I either ask a starter as the main, ask for childs meal or go large with 2 plates to share with my wife. Not had a problem anywhere with these requests.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards and best wishes,

Dave C


thank you Dave that really does help - my partners name is Nielsen.

Again - thank you.



HI Lyn,

I had the same problem when I overeat with cramps and going to sleep, and like Dave above I found certain foods caused me more problems than others also different combinations so a food diary is a good idea.

I still find I need to sit down after eating a proper meal for about 30 mins at least otherwise I suffer. I have a lunch box (like the children take to school) that I keep in the car with snacks etc in so I can graze all day on small amounts if I am going to be out and about doing things.

I am 2 and half years post op and like Dave above said I am still finding that my digestion is changing.

Refined sugar is a problem for me too but it is fairly easy to avoid and bananas for some reason cause me big problems.

I find food I could roll into a ball i.e bread, doughy cakes, pasta or meat that is dry or chewy I avoid.

Deep fried foods give me stomach cramp if I eat too much of them but an airfryer means scampi and chips is back on the menu.

I am even begining to watch what I eat as in the past few months I have put on enough weight to find my clothes are getting tight!!!!!!

Good luck



Hi Lyn

My experience of this is that it does gradually improve over time. I had my op in Nov 2010 and the first 6-9 months were pretty dire in terms of discomfort following food. I too would have to lie down, sometimes for an hour, coupled with shortness of breath and sweating - my understanding is that this is what's known as 'dumping' where the 'new' stomach can't cope with the digestion of food in the same way as the old one.

My stomach area is still pretty uncomfortable but I think a lot of this is down to the severing of the nerves during surgery and the odd sensation that now results from the procedure. Occasionally now I'll get too confident, forget that I'm not 'normal' any more, and try and eat like everyone else but it's simply not possible. Like Dave, in restaurants I'll ask for small portions or have a starter when others have a main course and it seems to work well. I can also take wine with food which is great but I think others find this tricky.

I am now back at work full time but it's pretty hard going, particularly in today's on the go world. Before I was ill I used to work through lunch, eat on the move etc. but this is now an absolute no-no and I tend to try and eat small portions through the morning and lunchtime to spread out the amount that I'm taking in. I find that if I try and eat a sandwich in one hit and take a cup of tea with it for example, then I can't do simple things like pop to the photocopier or get up and move around for a while as it's simply too painful. It takes me around 20 mins to feel ok again.

I don't think my stomach will ever be 'normal' again but if it keeps improving at the rate it has done so far, then I'll be happy.

Good luck to you both.

Kind regards,



Hi Lyn,

I`m one of the new boys being only 3 months post op, the biggest problem I see is that I personally tend to forget how big the op was and forget that my body has gone through a huge change. For me the biggest problem is having to constantly remind myself that I cant eat as much as before and to eat less but more often.

Before the op I used to eat largish meals so now it is a whole new learning proccess what I can and cant eat and how much.

Best wishes remember you are not alone, many people on here have been through the same problems, and are happy to give you therie thoughts.



Hi Lyn,

I also get this and what feels like a belt being tightened around my stomach if I eat too much, as you feel better you tend to forget that it is easy to overeat. I had my operation in Sept 2010

As far as going back to work is concerned, I think that it is a matter of individual choice. For me it it was a massive step in making me feel "normal" again. I had a year off work after my operation and returned 3 months after I finished chemo. I have reduced my hours - I'm not sure that I could work full time. I do get tired but that has improved a lot. As far as eating is concerned at work, little and often again seems to work. I always have cereal bars, kitkats. crisps etc in my drawer. I snack all day - chocolate raisins and bags of mixed friut and nuts are good!



hi lynn,i had my op august 2011,i get the dumping if i have ate to much,but apart from that and shortness of breath im doing fine im 73 ,a young un like your partner will be fine.


My husband had his IL done back in 2009. A couple of months after the surgery he had to go back in for dialation (Stretching of the esophagus), because food was getting stuck. He still has a feeling of fullness after he eats and feels best when he lays down. In fact I think one of the nurses told him it was best to do so after a meal for him to slow down the digestive process. He suffered from dumping syndrome too, which has got much better. But, if he eats too much it will come up. So if the food is getting stuck he might need to be dilated. For that uncomfortable feeling of fullness he might need to eat smaller portions. No one tells you before hand all the adjustments one will neeed to make after this surgery. ;)


I wanted to mention he went back to work 4 weeks after his surgery (desk job) in 2009. His cancer returned and he has mets to 4 sites. He is still working. Not easy, but he does it...only way for us to keep a roof over our head, bills paid, and insurance of course. During work I don't know how he does it since he is not able to lay down afer he eats. He is on the last availble chemo to him, but did not work, so they have added Herceptin to it hoping it will give a boost. Wishing you both all the best. I have heard many say it does get better.


Sometimes employers do not understand very easily the problems after this operation. If you would like to contact me direct I can send you some 'notes for employers' that might help. If the job involves heavy lifting and stooping, it may not be realistic, but you only find out by trial and error - and patience!



Thank you all do much for your feed back and advice on my posting - it is so enormously reassuring and comforting to know that we are not only not alone in the difficulties we are experiencing but that things can and do get better . I think Nielsen is going through some "stuff" at the moment and cannot see that things can ever be better for him - these posts help him find his way just that little bit easier and you all have my heartfelt thanks .

Lyn x


Peter Harvey - After the Treatment is Finished - Then What? has some words of wisdom that might help?



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