5 Things to Avoid with a Gastric Balloon

Written By: Emma Squillace

Have you heard about gastric balloons? They’re a relative new non-surgical option for weight loss. Balloons help you succeed in your weight loss journey by giving you a tool that amplifies your efforts to eat well. There are several popular gastric balloons that are FDA approved and offered at West Medical. Patients really like that with a gastric balloon they are in and out of the office the same day, and do not have the same recovery period that they would following surgery. Balloons are also nice in that they have fewer limitations than you may have with a gastric surgery.

If you’re thinking about getting a gastric balloon to help with weight loss, you may be wondering if there are limitations  – or recommendations for what to avoid – when you have these balloons in your stomach. Today we’ll cover 5 things to try to avoid when you have a gastric balloon. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, but if you choose to have a balloon we will go over specific instructions for you to follow.

Fizzy drinks

In general it is recommended that balloon patients avoid carbonated beverages. You may know that unsweetened seltzer water can be a good thirst-quencher for people wanting to cut calories and sugar, but there are other considerations when you have a gastric balloon. For balloon patients, any carbonated drinks can cause bloating. Since the balloons are already taking up substantial space in your stomach, adding the bubbles of a fizzy drink can make you uncomfortable. While the balloon is in, you’re better off sticking with flat water flavored with a piece of fruit if you’d like.

Eating quickly

It is always good advice to eat slowly and chew your food well, but this is even more important with a gastric balloon. Since the balloon takes up a lot of space, you’ll digest your food much more easily if you’ve chewed it into very small pieces. It may sound excessive, but aim to chew each bite of food 20 times. Many people also find it helpful to put their fork down on the table after each bite. This helps them eat at a good, slow pace. If you swallow pieces of food that are too large, you may have trouble digesting which can result in discomfort and nausea.

Eating before bed

Eating right before bed is generally not a good idea, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. For balloon patients we can expand this recommendation to: avoid lying down right after eating. Whether it means going to sleep for the night or lying down on the couch to watch a movie, reclining after you eat with a gastric balloon in your stomach can impede digestion. Let gravity work in your favor, and avoid lying down for 2 hours after you eat.

Ice cream or milk shakes

Milkshakes and ice cream are easy to eat with a gastric balloon – and that is why we recommend you avoid them for the most part. While it can be easy to sip a milkshake and not have to worry about food feeling ‘stuck,’ you can quickly take in more calories than you realize. The same goes for some smoothies which may have more sugar than sodas. Since you’ll have to consume smaller quantities of food because of the reduced available volume of your stomach, you want your calories to count. Lean protein and vegetables are key for losing weight and setting up good long term eating habits.

Extreme exercise

Moving and fitness are a great part of any weight loss program. Although it may seem like this is a case where ‘more is better,’ you’ll want to be careful about strenuous exercise. With the balloon(s) in your stomach, certain exercise can make you feel ill because the balloons can shift around. Exercise as much as you feel comfortable with, pushing yourself to increase your duration and intensity slowly, as long as you do not feel pain.  

The non surgical gastric balloon options that we have at West Medical are great alternatives to bariatric surgery for some patients. There are certain things you’ll need to be careful of, like avoiding too many liquid calories or foods that give you indigestion with the balloon, but those are all aspects we will educate you on. Our team is happy to speak to you about any weight loss questions you have. You can call us at (855) 690-0565.

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