When it comes to staying hydrated, we are especially wary of making sure you get enough fluid in daily. Early after surgery, dehydration is one of the top reasons for readmittance to the hospital. Beyond that, ample hydration aids in healing, digestions, and nearly all functions of the body. It also keeps you full and satisfied through the day and keeps energy levels up.
It is important that you do not drink while you are eating. We recommend spacing fluids at least 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a meal. Patients often react with “Won’t I choke?!” Truthfully, if you are taking small bites and chewing properly, you should have no issues with swallowing. Spacing fluids and food helps in a few ways: First, the stomach will not be filled with fluid when you are trying to use the limited space for food. Conversely, when you introduce fluid with your food, you make the stomach contents more viscous and easily passed out of the stomach. Desired restriction can be lost in this circumstance, leading to decreased cues for fullness and feelings of satiety. It can also lead to dumping syndrome, especially in gastric bypass patients.
While it’s true that all liquid, including sugary, fizzy, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks hydrate, they are not good for the post-bariatric lifestyle. Sugary drinks add calories, create sugar spikes and increase the risk of dumping syndrome. Fizzy drinks are acidic and can lead to stretching of the pouch. Caffeinated drinks can irritate the stomach pouch and should be avoided, especially in the first six months after surgery. Caffeine also has a diuretic effect meaning it can be dehydrating.
There was a time where it was believed that artificial zero calorie sweeteners and flavorings were a perfect solution to the post-bariatric lifestyle. However, recent research has shown that artificial sweeteners actually cause our bodies to crave more sugar. With that, we recommend flavored water using no calorie infusions of fruit and veggies.
The bottom line is that every patient needs at least 64 ounces of fluid, preferably plain water, every day. This needs to be adjusted upward on particularly hot days or when the patient is performing strenuous activity. Undoubtedly, it is difficult to drink that much water during the day, but there are strategies to make it a little easier.
Don’t be afraid to drink a little more throughout the day. There are a number of factors they can dehydrate you and it is very difficult to drink too much water over the course of the day.
What we certainly don’t want you to do is to chug your water rapidly. While it may seem fun or a challenge, it can lead to a dangerous dilution of electrolytes and defeats the goal of moderation and steady hydration throughout the day. It can also be painful or dangerous for your small pouch.