Aspirus Bariatrics

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FEATURE ARTICLE: To Drink...or Not to Drink
A common question patients ask is, “Will I ever be able to drink alcohol again?” Since the stomach and part of the small intestine are bypassed after surgery, there are changes in the absorption and digestion of alcohol. In addition, alcohol provides empty calories for someone who is restricting their intake to lose weight or maintain weight loss. 


Digestion and Absorption

Prior to surgery, alcohol moves through the stomach into the intestine in about 20 minutes. Gastric bypass patients experience a more rapid emptying of alcohol, especially since they must eat and drink separately. A study in 2002 showed blood alcohol levels were 50% higher and rose faster in gastric bypass patients (10 minutes compared with 30 minutes) than those who did not have the surgery. The effects of alcohol also linger longer, i.e., many hours after drinking. Bariatric surgery patients have received traffic citations after having as little as one or two drinks. Reports from bariatric surgery patients confirm this; they describe feeling intoxicated with much less alcohol than before surgery. 


Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant. This means it dulls parts of the brain, affecting concentration, coordination, and reflexes. It can result in drowsiness, sleep disturbance, blurred vision, and dehydration. This last fact explains the thirst, which is often experienced the morning following an evening of alcohol consumption. Dehydration is already a concern for bypass patients due to the limited stomach capacity, and need for continued replenishment of fluids.


Since alcohol is metabolized in the liver, large quantities can lead to liver damage. Other negative consequences of excess alcohol consumption are brain and heart damage, vitamin B-1 deficiency and inflammation of the pancreas. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of vitamin B-1, which is a concern for gastric bypass patients since they already have decreased absorption of vitamin B-1. This increases the risk of deficiency and could lead to neurological damage.


Nurtitional Value of Alcohol
Alcohol provides non-nutritive, empty calories. Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories (as compared to 9 calories per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram of protien or carbohydrate).
Drink = Calories
12 ounces beer = 150
12 ounces light beer = 100
5 ounces wine = 100
1.5 ounces 80 proof distilled wiskey = 100
8 ounces screwdriver = 200
Consuming just one drink per day amounts to 700 extra calories per week, which can result in a 1 pound weight gain after only five weeks. These extra calories can become a factor for gastric bypass patients still trying to reach a healthy weight.


Other Risks
Recent studies report that 60% of morbidly obese patients have food addictions, with 30% of these patients transferring their food addictions to alcohol after surgery. These patients may not have learned effective ways of coping. Surgery takes away the ability to use food to deal with stress or for emotional comfort. Alcohol replaces food as a friend after surgery.
Examining the following can identify those at risk:
  • Consumed large amounts of alcohol before surgery
  • Family history of alcoholism
  • DUI or other legal difficulty
  • Impairment in school or job performance
  • Poor social support
  • Poor coping skills
  • Excess alcohol use at an early age
With 97% of gastric bypass patients having an increased sensitivity to alcohol, it is important to consider both the long and short-term effects of alcohol. Brain and heart damage, addiction, and weight re-gain are all possibilities with alcohol consumption after bariatric surgery. The best advice: think before you drink.




April 28th, 9am - 1pm

Aspirus Wausau Hospital Medallion Rooms


Join us for a day of fun for everyone, including:

-Plus-sized used clothing sale

-Cooking demonstration

-Weight loss surgery information session

-Taking the Right Step Forward - presentation, how to get started with a walking program


We would love to tell you more about it. Call 715.847.0024 to learn more.




Our support group is facilitated by a certified Bariatric Support Group Leader and Success Habits Instructor as well as a Registered and Certified Dietitian. Meetings are a free service provided by Aspirus Bariatrics. Join Us!!


Evening Support Group:

Third Tuesday of every month, 6:30-8:00 pm, Aspirus Wausau Hospital Medallion room


Daytime Support Group:

First Thursday of every month, Noon-1:00pm, online via the internet. Call 715.847.2380 24 hours in advance to register.


Upcoming Topics

APRIL 17th - Is Plastic Surgery Right For You?  Dr. Butler will be our guest to speak about plastic surgery options after gastric bypass surgery.


MAY 15th - Recipe Night. Do you have a favorite recipe you want to share with the group? This is the night to share your tasty protein rich recipes.


JUNE 19th - The Dangers of Grazing. What is grazing? Why is it not a good idea after surgery? Ways to curb this bad habit.


JULY 17th - Tribute to the Losers! A popular topic from year to year when we ask everyone who has lost wieght through weight loss surgery. Bring in an old article of clothing to "show and tell" your weight loss story. If you need inspiration to stay on track, or if you have not had surgery yet, this is a topic you do not want to miss.




Chicken Breasts Dijon

1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

2 T grated parmesan cheese

1/4 t thyme

1/4 t dried marjoram

1/4 t pepper

1/8 t garlic powder

1/8 t onion powder

2 T Dijon mustard

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Combine breadcrumbs and spices in a shallow dish; stir well; set aside. Brush mustard evenly over both sides of chicken. Dredge chicken in breadcrubm mixture. Place chicken on a rack coated with cooking spray; place rack in shallow roasting pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until done. Makes 5 servings (approx 3 ounces of chicken).


Nutrition Information

22 grams protein

3 grams fat



Support group members work together and help each other on the journey which gastric bypass surgery takes us.  We welcome your comments on this communiqué.  To share a recipe or suggest a topic, talk to either Kristi or Margee.


Both of us are available by phone or e-mail.  Phone:  (715) 847-0024 or 1-800-283-2881, extension 70024 or e-mail or

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