Patients frequently ask, “What can I eat after my Whipple procedure?” and “Is there a special post-Whipple diet?”
A Whipple procedure involves removal of the duodenum, distal bile duct, the pancreatic head, and sometimes a portion of the stomach. The operation alters how much a person can eat in one sitting, and can also slow down the speed at which food passes through the digestive tract. Given this, dietary changes are often necessary as the body adapts to its new anatomy.
While no two patients or surgeries are the same, general dietary recommendations include:
- Eat 5 -6 small meals throughout the day
- Try to snack in-between meals
- Avoid high sugar and high fat foods
- Chose foods high in protein to help with healing
- Don’t fill up on fluids during meals. Save space for the more nutrient rich foods.
- Take a daily multivitamin
Additionally, physicians may prescribe dietary medications to assist with the digestive process. Examples of these include:
- Reglan – Reglan, also known as metoclopramide, is a dopamine antagonist used as an antiemetic (anti-vomiting) agent to treat nausea, vomiting, and early satiety (feeling of fullness). It is a prokinetic, meaning it helps increase intestinal motility.
- Creon – Creon is used to treat people who cannot digest food normally because their pancreas does not make enough enzymes due to cystic fibrosis, swelling of the pancreas (pancreatitis), removal of some or all of the pancreas (pancreatectomy), or other conditions. It is usually taken prior to each meal and snacks.
After full recovery, which may take 1 – 2 months, patients can usually begin to eat foods which they have been avoiding (and craving). These should be added to their diet one at a time to determine if they are well tolerated. With time, most patients will eventually tolerate regular sized meals and may, at the discretion of the treating physician, discontinue dietary medications.