As a bariatric dietitian, I know there’s a lot of confusion around drinking and eating after bariatric surgery. My clients often ask…
“How much do I need to drink?”
“Why can’t I drink when I eat?”
“How long should we wait before and after eating to drink again?”
It’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to drinking and eating after bariatric surgery. So here are my Top 5 Tips!
Drinking and Eating after Bariatric Surgery
Top 5 Tips for Happy Hydration!
Avoid drinking and eating together.
- The recommendation for bariatric surgery post ops is that you try not to do any drinking with meals. The reasoning is that fluid tends to rush food out of the pouch or sleeve — potentially leading to Dumping Syndrome and a premature sense of an empty, hungry stomach.
- Drinking right up until it’s time to eat is perfectly fine.
- It IS okay to drink water to swallow pills or vitamins — even the chewable kind.
Log your fluid intake.
- You tote bottled water around all day but how much are you actually drinking? Keep a fluid log for 3 days and track how much you are consuming. Consider 48 oz. per day is the very minimum to prevent dehydration. While 64 oz. per day is the normal goal. Don’t guess-timate how much you drink — know how much through good record-keeping.
- Make it easy to sip all day by setting reminder alarms on your cell phone or computer. I have one client who uses the launch of his screensaver at work to remind him to take another sip.
Just like swimming, wait 30 minutes before diving in.
- It’s recommended to wait only 30 minutes after eating before drinking again. I’ve not heard of waiting 60 minutes or more.
Prime the pump.
- It’s common early post-op and for some, several months after bariatric surgery and beyond to have a hard time swallowing certain foods including meats or poultry that are very lean, dry and/or stringy. Moistening foods with broth, cutting it into small pieces and eating slowly are your best defense against getting food stuck or hurting as you swallow.
- If you feel like you are choking by not drinking with meals, this is a serious health issue and needs to be addressed immediately by your healthcare provider. This is not a normal post-op problem.
Know the signs of dehydration.
- Symptoms of dehydration include: dry mouth, lips and tongue, dizziness, nausea and dark urine.
- Knowing you need to drink but having no desire to do so is also a sign of dehydration.
- I’ve sent many a client to the neighborhood walk-in clinic for emergency IV hydration. Unfortunately, the more dehydrated you become, the less you tend to care about getting help. Take the signs seriously and get treatment early.
Get Your Lab Work
You know I harp on regular lab work after bariatric surgery and dehydration is another reason why. Oftentimes inadequate fluid intake can show up in routine screening. So, roll up those sleeves at 3, 6, 12 and 18 months post-op, and annually thereafter.
More information and resources:
Patient resources for life after bariatric surgery on the American Society of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery website.
And Dr. Walter Medlin’s thoughts about drinking with meals after bariatric surgery on the Obesity Action Coalition’s website.
Until next time, be good to YOU!