All About Water: Getting Enough Fluids After Gastric Sleeve

Who would have thought something as simple as water could cause so much anxiety for gastric sleeve patients? But it does. And I get it. Like many other things in your life, your relationship with liquids will change after your gastric sleeve procedure. So here’s a tutorial on getting enough fluids without losing your mind (or your lunch).

In the Beginning
The truth is that right after gastric sleeve, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get the recommended 64-80 ounces of fluids a day. Why? Your sleeve will be swollen, so the first few days will be a process of sip, wait, sip, wait… That’s not a recipe for getting at least eight cups of water down. By the end of the first week, however, it gets much easier. Now for the other reality: Water feels different after a sleeve. That sounds crazy, but liquids other than water can be much more palatable to new sleevers. As long as whatever you’re sipping is sugar-free (tea, Crystal Light, Diet Snapple), do what you need to in order to get your fluids in.

New sleever dos and don’ts:

  • Do  look at the color of your urine during the first week. If it starts to look dark, you need to push a little harder to get as close to 64 ounces as possible.
  • Don’t  drink more than three to four ounces of liquid in a 10-minute period in the first month and a half. That guideline will help you avoid uncomfortable sensations or even vomiting.
  • Do  take a tiny sip of water and then wait two to three minutes before sipping again.
  • Don’t  wait until you’re thirsty to drink; you’ll fall behind on your consumption if you do.
  • Do  avoid gulping more than an ounce (the size of a shot glass) at a time.

For Experienced Sleevers
No matter how long you’ve had a gastric sleeve, water can still be a struggle. The best way to get all of those ounces in is to keep sipping slowly throughout the day. My advice for keeping track of your consumption is to buy a 32-ounce water bottle, and fill it up at least twice a day. Bonus: The cap on a sports bottle helps you swallow less air.

Probably the biggest question I get about fluids has to do with eating and drinking at the same time. Newbies tend to have the biggest problem with this, but even some long-time sleevers still can’t drink liquids during a meal. Annoying, maybe, but it’s not cause for concern. And most importantly, drinking soon after eating doesn’t stretch your sleeve! It might be uncomfortable, but it’s not dangerous. I recommend not drinking 30 to 45 minutes before a meal simply because of the potential discomfort of mixing solids and liquids.

As I mentioned above, newly sleeved patients don’t tend to do well with plain water, but that distaste can last well past the first month or so. If you’re among the people who get nauseous or just can’t choke down 64 ounces of plain water, don’t worry about it. The advice about sugar-free liquids stands: They get the job done.

Experienced sleever dos and don’ts:

  • Do  increase your fluid intake by 10 to 20 percent when the weather is very hot and/or humid to prevent dehydration.
  • Don’t  fall into the trap of thinking fruit juice is good for you. They’re calorie bombs, so check those labels.
  • Do  avoid carbonated beverages, if possible. All that gas can distend your stomach—though it’s not dangerous—and create abdominal pain.
  • Don’t  worry about caffeine. Some of my patients believe it’s a no-no forever because we ban it in the first weeks following surgery. But once you’re able to drink two quarts of liquid a day, you can consume regular tea and coffee, if you prefer.

Getting sufficient liquids is important during every stage of living with a gastric sleeve. The Endobariatric team is always available to support you with advice and strategies on fluid intake, as well as any other sleeve topic!

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.