I've had gastric bypass surgery. Consuming too much processed sugars can cause me to have a thing called "dumping syndrome". How much Old Orchard juice can I confidently/comfortably consume without having a problem?

Thanks for the thoughtful question. I will definitely address your question about consumption of Old Orchard Juice but first I would like to explain what dumping syndrome is and how it can be managed (for people who are unfamiliar with what you are going through). The Mayo Clinic defines dumping syndrome as “a condition that can develop after surgery to remove all or part of your stomach or after surgery to bypass your stomach to help you lose weight.” It occurs when food passes too quickly through the digestive system and cannot be properly digested and absorbed. Some people experience early dumping syndrome, which occurs anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes after eating. It is characterized by: cramping, nausea, diarrhea and weakness. Late dumping syndrome can occur anywhere from 2 to 3 hours after eating. Symptoms include: dizziness, sweating, confusion, shakiness, low blood sugar and fainting.

When my patients are struggling with dumping syndrome, I remind them that they have a much smaller “holding tank” after bariatric surgery. Given the small area, one has to be thoughtful about the general size of one’s meals. I am unsure when you had your surgery but if it was recent I would contact your doctor to find out how much food you should be consuming at one time. I generally recommend that people consume 6 small meals a day. In addition, I would recommend either consuming beverages ~45 minutes before or after your meals. You want the solid food to remain in the “holding tank” for as long as possible and the addition of fluid may just send that mixture south…quickly! Speaking of beverages, you asked if you could drink (Old Orchard) juice. I typically advise that my patients limit intake of fruit juice and sugar sweetened beverages. Foods and beverages high in sugar (syrup, honey, candy, chocolate, ice cream, pudding, pies, cakes, frosting etc) tend to rapidly absorb water from the body, which can cause the mixture to rapidly travel through and out of your digestive system. However, I remind my patients that everyone’s digestive system is different. I have had patients that get dumping syndrome if they have one sip of juice and I have others that can safely consume a small amount (one cup) without any issues. If you really want to try it, I suggest taking a few ounces at a time and then seeing how your body reacts.

A change in diet can definitely help reduce instances of dumping syndrome. As previously mentioned, smaller meal sizes, a diet low in sugar, consuming beverages between meals can all help reduce uncomfortable symptoms. It is also recommended that people limit intake of greasy, fatty, or fried foods. These foods don’t generally digest well and should be limited in the diet. Some people become lactose intolerant after surgery. Lactose can be found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you are noticing increased gas, bloating, and loose stool when eating dairy products, you may want to follow a lactose free diet. Finally, I recommend including high protein foods with each mini meal (eggs, tofu, fish, smooth peanut butter), eating slowly and relaxing while eating, and keeping a food diary to better understand what foods/beverages may be causing your symptoms.

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