constipation fiber article

Constipation After WLS and 10 High-Fiber Foods to Keep You Going

April 17, 2017

One of the biggest, most common issues bariatric patients deal with is constipation after WLS. Constipation means your bowel movements are happening less often than normal or it is difficult to expel waste from our bodies. Most people will experience constipation sooner or later, and although it is not usually serious, it is a relief to have your body back on track after going through this.

Constipation After WLS

If you're experiencing some of these issues, chances are you may have constipation.  

  • Few bowel movements
  • Hard or small stools
  • Swollen stomach or stomach pain
  • Vomiting 

The changes in your usual diet and activity after surgery are what mainly cause this problem in your digestive system. Fortunately, they are easy to fix. There are many ways to improve constipation such as staying hydrated by drinking two to four extra glasses of water a day (in addition to the recommended 64 ounces each day), eating more fruits and vegetables, and using a very mild stool softener or laxative. Although these are all good methods to improving your condition, the best and easiest remedy of all is adding fiber to your diet.

Fiber is Important for Good Health

Fiber-deficiency is common. It is estimated that 95% of Americans are dietary fiber-deficient. And what many don’t realize, is that fiber does much more than just regulate the digestive system.

You’ve probably seen it included in the packages of many processed foods such as cereals and bread, yet most people lack this important nutrient. Foods high in fiber help with heart disease, obesity, and they support a healthy digestive tract. As well, both soluble and insoluble fibers help you feel fuller longer and faster, a great advantage for weight loss surgery patients.

The fiber in processed foods is not the healthiest. Many ingredients in the supplements may even be harmful to your health. So, as with all nutrients, it is better to eat fresh foods rich in fiber. Fortunately, there are many foods out there that contain that essential nutrient which aids our bodies. The following list focuses on high-fiber food choices yet help to add fiber to our diet.

10 High-Fiber Foods

Berries - 1 cup: 7.6g of fiber

Blackberries and raspberries are basically nature’s candy. Not only do they taste just as good as store-bought candies, they also provide you with necessary vitamins, Potassium, Magnesium, and more importantly, they are a tasty way of adding fiber to your diet. One cup of fresh blackberries gives about 7.6 grams of fiber for 60 calories, which is more than many other high-fiber foods.

Green Peas - 1 cup (cooked): 16g of fiber

Peas are loaded with fiber and they are available all year, making them very easy to add to any dinner. One cooked cup provides 8.6 grams of fiber and nearly 100% of your daily suggested intake of Vitamin C.

Avocados - Half an avocado: 9g of fiber

The quantity of fiber found in avocados is different based on the type. You could have the smooth skinned, bright green Florida avocados or the thick-skinned small California avocados, among others. Florida avocados have more insoluble fiber per ounce, but it does not matter whether you choose to enjoy the Florida Fuerte or the California Hass, you are guaranteed to receive around 18% of the daily fiber intake recommended. Not only do avocados provide you with a good amount of fiber, they also lower cholesterol, contain more potassium than bananas, and are loaded with healthy fats.

Black Beans - 1 cup (cooked): 15g of fiber

Legumes have the healthiest mix of protein and fiber among all food groups. It is no wonder that black beans help “steady” the digestive process. They help food move at a more desirable pace in our stomachs since it is so rich in these advantageous nutrients.

Lentils - 1 cup (cooked): 10.4g of fiber

The soluble fiber in lentils reduces the risk of heart disease and regulates blood sugar, while the insoluble fiber in lentils prevents constipation and helps prevent colon cancer. Eating lentil soup is a great way to include fiber in your diet.

Flax Seeds - 1 ounce: 8g of fiber

Flax seeds are cheap and extremely easy to add to any food. Make sure to grind them first so you receive all the benefits of these small seeds. You can add flax seeds to oats, yogurt, fruit, baked goods, chicken, fish and so much more. And even better, although high in fiber, they are low in carbohydrates.

Figs - 1 cup: 14.6g of fiber

Figs have an almost perfect balance of soluble and insoluble fibers. They are linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol which reduce chances of heart disease, common amongst weight loss surgery patients.

Acorn Squash - 1 cup (cooked): 9g of fiber

All types of winter squash such as butternut squash, pumpkins, and acorn squash filled with nutrients. As an example, acorn squash is high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber will help absorbing nutrients by slowing the rate at which the food is digested. You can use acorn squash as a substitute for potatoes or simply used to make soup.

Barley - 1 cup (cooked): 6g of fiber

Barley is a great substitute for plain old boring rice. It is a healthy, chewy grain that does not only add great flavor to food, it also gives you all the benefits of fiber and other nutrients.

Chickpeas - 1 cup: 8g of fiber

This delicious legume is a great source of dietary fiber. It helps lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood, prevents constipation and promotes regularity in the digestive tract. You can get all the benefits of chickpeas in a home-made hummus, which is a tasty and easy-to-make snack. (Make sure to sample a small quantity of these foods if you aren't sure how they will digest after your surgery.)

As you can see from this list, it is easy to introduce high-fiber foods into our diets. It’s the little changes after surgery that make a big difference. You can start by replacing your side dish of rice with barley, adding flax seeds to your morning smoothies, or enjoying a nice snack of hummus and vegetables. Fiber is a miraculous nutrient that can do wonders for our bodies. Why not get as much of it as we can?

If you continue to experience constipation, give your doctor a call.

Sheri Burke RHN


Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana & Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery patients for 10 years & provides nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric patients. Sheri is passionate about supporting patients so she created a VSG Blanket & a VSG Plush.

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