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What Causes Dumping Syndrome?

By Michelle May, M.D.

Bloated Overweight ManAbout half of gastric bypass patients (and a small number of sleeve patients) experience dumping syndrome.

The symptoms of dumping syndrome may include feeling shaky, sweaty, weak, dizzy, faint, anxious, and/or nauseated. Vomiting/diarrhea may follow. Symptoms typically occur within 15 to 30 minutes of eating too quickly, drinking liquid with meals, or consuming foods that are too concentrated, particularly sugary and high-protein liquids.

So what causes dumping syndrome? In a gastric bypass procedure, a significant part of the stomach and the duodenum (the first part of the intestine) are bypassed, When food (especially sugar) is “dumped” into the second part of the intestine too quickly, the body may flood the intestines with fluid in an attempt to dilute the sugar. That causes the symptoms of dumping syndrome.

Pinpointing the Cause of Dumping Syndrome

Use your Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery Awareness Journal to help you pinpoint the cause of symptoms. Below is a list of the most common causes of dumping syndrome.

  • Simple sugar – particularly sucrose found in table sugar, syrup, candy, ice cream, and other desserts—is an especially common cause of dumping syndrome.
  • Reading ingredient labels can help you identify other culprits such as corn syrup, honey, or molasses.
  • Other simple carbohydrates like fruit and dairy are less likely to cause dumping unless they contain added sugar, like canned fruit or sweetened yogurt.
  • Some people find that refined carbohydrates are also problematic.
  • Eating too fast.
  • Drinking liquids during your meal since it speeds the rate of food dumping into the jejunum.
  • While less common, notice whether eating foods high in protein (such as a high protein shake that is too concentrated and/or contains more than 60 grams of protein), high in fat, or foods that are too cold or too hot lead to dumping or other uncomfortable symptoms.

Mindful awareness will help you identify and manage the causes of dumping syndrome.


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Dawn Oliver says:

    Good Evening. I have a few questions if you could answer.. Ok I’m highly considering WLS because I have a neurological disease called Pseudotumor Cereibri. This condition causes increase in the Innercrainial area surrounding my brain. I’ve had this condition for 28 years. I’m 48 years old..I was told that loosing weight would make my condition go into remission….Question. How soon after surgery will I be able to eat or drink? I also suffer from Anxiety!!!!

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