Strangely enough, many patients find that water requires more thought and elicits more consternation after vertical sleeve gastrectomy than at any other time in their lives. Why? The rules are different. Or perhaps I should say that, post-sleeve, you need to commit to following some rules you may have heard before. Here are some of the most common questions about water in your new VSG lifestyle.
I hate water. How important is it to a gastric sleeve diet, really?
Very. It serves a variety of purposes, all of which are important. The first, of course, is that your body needs water, whether you’ve had gastric sleeve surgery or not. It’s crucial to every single thing that goes on inside your body. It also helps provide a bit of fullness between meals so you’re not tempted to snack, as well as gives your mouth something to do. And if you ask sleeve brothers and sisters to name the biggest factor in moving past a stall, “more water” usually ranks at the top of their list.
I recommend that patients who have healed completely drink at least 64 ounces of fluids a day. Notice I said “fluids”—not necessarily water. If you’ve always hated water or plain water becomes unpleasant after being sleeved (it happens), you don’t have to suffer though those eight-plus cups of water every day for the rest of your life. The crucial thing is that whatever you drink should be sugar- and carbonation-free. No soda. No juice. No regular Kool-Aid. We provide every patient with a list of good water alternatives, such as Crystal Light and other sugar-free drink mixes.
Will I ever be able to chug water again?
This is a frustration I hear a lot, especially from patients who have been sleeved relatively recently. The truth is that you may be a sipper for the rest of your life. Or not. Because like so many things about VSG, your ability to chug—or just sip—is very individual. When you first have gastric sleeve in Mexico, your only choice is to take sips. Otherwise, your stomach will revolt. Later, many are like Ashley, who has had her sleeve for a year and says, “I can gulp down several ounces at a time (and) I can drink a full bottle of water in under a half hour.” Others have the same experience as Tracy, who says, “I’m still a sipper…7 years out.”
Chances are good that you’ll be able to drink much more than a sip at a time within a matter of months. But you may never again be able to chug down a large glass of water all at once after, say, a tough workout.
How can I drink that amount of water when I can’t sip right before or after meals?
Planning your meals isn’t just a matter of deciding what you’ll eat, but when you’ll eat. Make sure you have regular mealtimes so you have large windows of time when you can drink the majority of your liquids. If you’re snacking all the time, you’re right, you’ll never find enough hours in the day to get that water in.
And whether you’re new to the gastric sleeve diet guidelines or a certified veteran, the key is the same: sip, sip, sip all day. If you aren’t reaching your water goals, try building up to them slowly. Whatever amount you’re taking in now, aim to drink four more ounces every day this week, then four additional ounces every day the next week, etc., until you’re where you want to be.
The bottom line is that liquid consumption can make or break your VSG journey in a very real way. Make sure it’s among your top priorities by finding sugar-free beverages you enjoy, carving out designated mealtimes, and keeping a water bottle nearby all day.
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