Dumping syndrome is a condition in which food and other stomach contents rapidly move through the digestive tract.
It’s a common but underdiagnosed complication of certain surgeries that involve the stomach or esophagus.
Dumping syndrome can cause various uncomfortable and painful digestive symptoms as well as fatigue, dizziness, and nausea, usually within an hour of consuming a meal.
Fortunately, most people experience symptom relief by making certain changes to their diet.
This article explains what to eat and avoid with dumping syndrome for symptom relief and provides a 3-day sample dumping syndrome diet menu.
What is dumping syndrome?
Dumping syndrome is a condition in which food moves too quickly through your digestive tract.
It’s the opposite of gastroparesis, which occurs when food moves too slowly through your digestive tract.
Dumping syndrome is a frequent complication of surgeries that change the anatomy and nerve supply of the stomach.
Surgeries that may cause dumping syndrome include (1):
- Vagotomy with pyloroplasty: A surgery performed to treat chronic stomach ulcers.
- Gastrectomy: A surgery to remove a part — such as with certain weight loss procedures — or the whole stomach.
- Esophagectomy: A surgery to remove some or all of the esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach.
- Nissen fundoplication: A surgery to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Dumping syndrome is unlikely to occur in people who have not undergone these types of surgeries.
The symptoms of dumping syndrome can be categorized as early dumping syndrome or late dumping syndrome.
With early dumping syndrome, symptoms typically occur within the first hour after a meal, whereas the symptoms of late dumping syndrome usually occur 1–3 hours after a meal (1).
The symptoms of early dumping syndrome commonly include (1):
- abdominal pain and cramps
- borborygmi, or stomach rumbling
- desire to lie down after meals
- rapid heart rate
The primary sign of late dumping syndrome is reactive hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Reactive hypoglycemia occurs when the body releases too much insulin — the hormone that lowers blood sugar — in response to high blood sugar from the rapid delivery of carbohydrates to the small intestine.
People who receive bariatric or weight loss surgery may not develop reactive hypoglycemia for 3 months to one year after (1).
Fortunately, you’re likely to experience relief from your symptoms by making certain changes to your diet.
Dumping syndrome diet
Foods to avoid
You should limit or avoid fast-digesting carbohydrates such as:
- sports drinks
- rice cakes
- white bread, rice, and pasta
- baked potato
- bakery products
- sugary cereals
- barbeque sauce
Fruits also contain fast-digesting carbohydrates but you shouldn’t necessarily avoid them since they also contain some fiber, which slows the rate at which the sugar is digested.
You can also slow the digestion of fruits by combining them with certain foods or eating them as part of a meal.
However, it may be wise to avoid certain fruits with a higher sugar content like ripe bananas.
Milk also contains fast-digesting carbohydrates but the protein helps slow its digestion so you may be able to tolerate it in small amounts without triggering symptoms.
Beyond these foods, you should also limit or avoid alcohol as it may increase the rate at which food moves through your digestive tract.
Foods to eat
You should aim to consume fiber-rich foods since fiber helps slow digestion and can prevent reactive hypoglycemia that occurs with late dumping syndrome.
The best sources of fiber include:
Women should aim to consume at least 25 grams of fiber daily and men should aim for 38 grams (3).
If you don’t currently consume much fiber, slowly increase the amount you consume over time to prevent digestive symptoms.
If increasing your fiber doesn’t provide you with symptom relief, you can also supplement with certain types of fiber like guar gum and pectin.
You can take these supplements as a powder or in pill form.
Here are some quality pectin and guar gum products:
3-day sample dumping syndrome diet menu
With dumping syndrome, it’s important to consume smaller, more frequent meals as well as eat slowly and chew your food well.
- wait to drink fluids until at least 30 minutes after meals
- lie down for 30 minutes after meals to reduce symptoms of low body fluids, like weakness, fatigue, and dizziness
Here is a 3-day sample dumping syndrome diet menu:
- Breakfast: whole-grain toast with avocado
- Snack: cottage cheese topped with peaches
- Lunch: grilled chicken wrap and garden salad
- Snack: peanut butter and apple slices
- Dinner: baked salmon and sauteed asparagus and mushrooms
Day 2 (vegan option)
- Breakfast: oatmeal topped with berries
- Snack: hummus with veggies for dipping
- Lunch: lentil bean salad
- Snack: green banana and almonds
- Dinner: vegetable whole-grain orzo soup and a side salad
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt parfait
- Snack: cherry tomatoes with mozzarella
- Lunch: grilled lemon chicken salad
- Snack: celery sticks with peanut butter
- Dinner: pork loin and roasted carrots
The bottom line
Dumping syndrome is a common complication of surgeries that involve the stomach or esophagus.
It can cause various uncomfortable and painful digestive symptoms and low blood sugar.
Limiting or avoiding fast-digesting carbohydrates like sugar-sweetened beverages and refined grains while increasing your intake of fiber can help alleviate your symptoms.
You can further reduce your symptoms by consuming smaller, frequent meals and chewing your food well.
Waiting to drink fluids until at least 30 minutes after your meal and lying down for 30 minutes after a meal can also help you manage symptoms.