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Why Does Food Get Stuck
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Why Does Food Get Stuck

By Kelly Springer, RD


Many patients ask the question “why does food get stuck?”  The following are three common behaviors which may cause postoperative bariatric patients to “get food stuck”.


Not chewing well.  It is recommended that patients cut their food into small pieces and then chew their food item at least 20 times to mechanically break it up into a pureed consistency before swallowing. Having a conversation during the meal may lead to swallowing too quickly without appropriate chewing. 


Eating too fast.  Professionals have found that it is necessary to sit down for every meal and take 20-30 minutes per meal. Hunger is probably the main reason that patients eat too fast. They may have skipped a meal during that particular day and then cannot seem to get the food in fast enough. Please remember that it is important not to skip meals.


Eating too much. Everything you eat should be put on a plate to avoid overeating. When patients eat near a serving platter, they tend to eat until they are overfull. Some patients report that when they are full they tend to get a runny nose or slight head congestion. Patients that recognize this feeling stop eating and therefore avoid the “stuck” feeling. If you do not have this sensation, you may want to remember that it takes the average person 20 minutes to feel full. So eat slowly and then wait to experience fullness.


All of these behaviors should be practiced before surgery. We are aware that old habits die hard and that behavior modification needs to be practiced in repetition in order to create new habits.