Diet Advice for Stomach Cancer Survivors

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: My wife has been through stomach cancer and has lost two thirds of her stomach. While it is common that a feeding tube may be the next step in getting enough nutrition, can you recommend some good, nutritious snacks for her?

RAN, Colebrook, New Hampshire 

A: When people have any kind of surgery that reduces the size of their stomach, they may experience some complications.

They can experience early satiety, nausea, loss of appetite, or a type of syndrome that can result in gas and diarrhea (also called dumping syndrome).

Small meals move easily through the gastrointestinal tract and allow for more digestion to occur, resulting in better absorption of nutrients.

Some patients have a difficult time tolerating dairy products or higher fiber foods at first, while others can tolerate these in small amounts. We recommend reintroducing these foods carefully into the diet.

Your wife should spread out her fluids and foods. By limiting how much she drinks during meals, she can help prevent dumping syndrome.

A registered dietitian can help to review any other symptoms your wife may be having and determine the best ways to manage them.

A feeding tube is not necessarily required to maintain nutrition status. It is recommended if a person is malnourished or if future cancer treatment following surgery will be intense. A registered dietitian can help review any symptoms your wife may be having and determine the best ways to manage them, including determining if there is a need for a feeding tube.

As far as snack recommendations, we advise eating slowly and small, frequent snacks that are balanced in protein and carbohydrates. Eating these between meals can be helpful to maintain satiety and nutrition status.

These snacks include:

  • Two tablespoons of natural peanut butter on banana slices
  • Guacamole with trans-fat free crackers or pita chips
  • Greek yogurt (any flavor) plus one cup ripe of melon
  • Graham crackers with natural peanut butter

Our Planning Meals section offers advice on a well-balanced diet.

For specific meal ideas for snacks, main dishes and much more, please check out our Recipes in the Health Library.

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