Carb dumping vs. sugar dumping

Dumping syndrome is common for post-op gastric bypass patients. The lack of a regular stomach, the valve at the bottom of the stomach, and the full length of small intestine means that sugars, or carbs which are converted into sugars, are absorbed faster, thus hitting the bloodstream faster. The result is dumping — those sugars hitting your bloodstream more quickly and causing a whole slew of nasty side effects, including:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Cold sweats and chills

I experience all of the above, except for the stomach cramping (with the exception of two occasions after my last small bowel resection – the intestinal cramping was painful enough for me to take a painkiller), vomiting, and diarrhea. The symptoms typically come on within 15-20 minutes of sugar dumping, and subside after 15-30 minutes, leaving me feel very tired, drained, and drowsy.

Carb dumping, on the other hand, is sneaky and evil. It hits me out of nowhere with a powerful wallop of dizziness, lightheadedness, and almost a confused state (which is very freaky to experience), anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half after eating some rich in carbs. For me, a corn muffin or a bowl of cereal is enough to do it.

Having experienced the two, I do my best to limit both sugars and carbs, but I’m especially careful with carbs – it’s harder to calculate carbs just by “eyeballing” something, whereas with sugar it’s pretty easy to estimate how many bites of a slice of apple pie I can eat (answer: four), or how many Oreos I can eat (answer: two) without dumping. Carbs are sneaky bastards, and the dumping they cause is an extra special kind of miserable that I do my best to avoid.


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Hi! My name is Jenn. I'm a 29 year old, married, work-at-home mother of a nine year old daughter and seven year old autistic son. In 2008, after over a decade of being obese, I reached my highest weight of 331.5 lbs, and I decided to do something about it. In November of 2009 I had gastric bypass surgery, and since then have lost 180 lbs. I am currently maintaining my goal weight range of 150-160 lbs.

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