Eating after a Whipple operation
People with pancreatic cancer who have a Whipple operation may have many questions and concerns about their diet following the surgery. A Whipple operation is the most common operation for treating pancreatic cancer and involves removing part of the pancreas, the first part of the small bowel (duodenum), part of the stomach, the gall bladder and part of the bile duct.
During surgery, a feeding tube may be placed in the bowel below the stomach. This is so that you can be fed through the tube for a short time following surgery to help provide optimal nutrition.
When it is time to come off the tube feeds, you will need to return to a diet of solid foods gradually.
The following tips may be helpful for starting to eat after a Whipple operation:
Talk to a dietitian about ways to deal with eating problems caused by a Whipple operation.
- Consider having small frequent meals (5 to 6 meals daily) every 2-3 hours. This will help prevent you feeling too full.
- Avoid eating too many fatty, greasy, fried foods.
- If wind (gas) is a problem then avoid eating gas producing foods - common foods that produce wind (gas), e.g. dried beans; vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus; gassy soft drinks.
- If having a drink with your meal, take small sips to avoid filling up too quickly.
- Try and drink beverages that contain nutrients and kilojoules/calories. Do not use a straw to drink beverages as this can cause you to swallow extra air.
- Try Lactose Free low fat milk rather than whole milk, as lactose intolerance can be an issue following surgery and can cause additional abdominal pain, bloating and gas.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
- If taking enzyme supplements, it is important to take the amount prescribed by your doctor.
- You will need a multi-vitamin supplement – extra calcium, folic acid, iron, vitamin B12 and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) – if fat malabsorption occurs. Talk to a dietitian or your doctor for more information on vitamin supplements.