Vegetarians And The Duodenal Switch: Six Protein-Based Eating Tips For After Your Surgery

11 March 2015
 Categories: , Articles


Often referred to as DS or the "switch", the duodenal switch from a place like Weight Loss Specialists of North Texas is a weight loss surgery that involves a biliopancreatic diversion and a duodenal switch. Part of the stomach is removed, and absorption is slowed. After this surgery, all patients have to follow certain dietary restrictions – like eating small snacks slowly and often – but if you are a vegetarian, you may have to make special considerations, particularly in regard to protein.

Here are six things to keep in mind:

1. Focus your diet around proteins

After a duodenal switch, your stomach is smaller, and it will fill up quickly. Unfortunately, if you fill it full of fruits, veggies or low-heath-value carbs, your body will not get the nutrients it needs. Because of that, doctors and dietitians advise patients to make their snacks count by packing them full of protein.

In most cases, patients steer themselves toward meat proteins because they have a satisfying density of protein. Unfortunately, as a vegetarian, you can't do this so you need to find another way to consume your 60 to 90 grams of protein per day.

2. Understand the differences between animal and plant-based proteins

In some cases, meat and vegetable-based proteins have similar amounts of protein in them. For example, a 100 gram portion of steak has approximately 25 grams of protein, and a 100 gram serving of soybeans has 36 grams of protein. In this case, if you choose the beans, your body gets more protein.

However in this case and in some other cases, the problem is not the lack of protein in plant-based foods. Instead, the issue is that while meat-based proteins have complete amino acids, plant-based proteins are usually lacking at least one essential amino acid.

Luckily, you can create a protein-packed snack and get all of your essential amino acids by pairing two plant-based proteins together.

3. Create complete proteins

Some popular plant-based protein combinations that provide your body with all the amino acids it needs include wheat and peanuts which you can get through a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of Thai noodles with peanut sauce. Another iconic example is rice and beans. You can also create complete proteins with dairy-based combos such as pasta and cheese and cereal and milk.

4. Be cautious of dairy and developing lactose intolerance

Although dairy can help boost a vegetarian's protein intake, many people unfortunately develop lactose intolerance after getting the switch. If your stomach begins to hurt or if you notice other digestive symptoms after consuming dairy, you may have developed lactose intolerance.

Try focusing on cultured forms of dairy such as yogurt or cottage cheese and staying away from milk and cheese. If that does not abate your symptoms, talk with your dietician or surgeon about your potential lactose intolerance and maximizing other sources of protein.

5. Know the signs of lack of protein

Regardless of how much beans and rice you eat, you need to keep an eye on your body to ensure it's actually absorbing the protein you need. If your poop smells worse than usual or if you have diarrhea, make an appointment with your duodenal surgeon. These symptoms indicate that you are not absorbing the protein or some of the vitamins you need including B12, A, D, E and K.

6. Boost protein levels when possible

Whether you are vegetarian or not, you may want to find ways to boost your protein levels in your foods without giving yourself more to chew. To do this, stir some protein powder in your milk or sprinkle it on your cereal. Also, add cheese to any foods you can, coat your noodles with bean paste and keep nuts on hand for quick mouthfuls. .