Top 5 Water Tips:
How to Avoid Dehydration After Bariatric Surgery

water tips: small and big water bottles

These proven water tips should be helpful in keeping you from a post op return trip to the hospital!

Your body’s need for fluid doesn’t change just because the size of your stomach is reduced with a weight loss surgery procedure.

However, your new tinny tummy creates a challenge for you, especially early post op. Dehydration is the #1 cause of readmission after bariatric surgery because it’s so much harder to drink the needed 64 ounces of fluid with a smaller stomach. 

Top 5 Water Tips/Hydration Strategies

Tip #1: Switch to Alkaline Water

If you think you don't like the taste of water...

...drink different water. Alkaline water.

All waters are NOT created equally. All water looks alike, but if you test drinking water- bottled or tap- with pH drops (like you use to measure pool water), you can physically see the difference.

"Alkaline water" refers to the chemical pH of water, which is a HUGE determinant of the taste. The pH scale ranges 1-14. 

You may see bottled water labels screaming with numbers like "7.0," "8.8," or "9.5."  These numbers refer to the pH of the water. Any number over 7.0 = Alkaline water.

And I have to tell you...Alkaline water JUST TASTES BETTER.

  • If you aren't a good water drinker because you "never acquired the taste for it," drink alkaline water.
  • If you were a "good water drinker" before surgery, and are having trouble post op because "water tastes funny," drink alkaline water.

I have tremendous success converting self proclaimed "water haters" to consistent "great water drinkers" after trying alkaline water. A simple google image search of "alkaline water" will give you an idea of the various brand names.

Water Tips #2:  Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle; Carry it At All Times

Invest in a Bottle

If you invest in a bottle, you're more likely to keep track of it. Disposable water bottles are too easy to leave behind...or to start one, not finish it, then lose it, then get another...and therefore you're never be able to keep track of how much you actually drank.

There are endless reusable water bottles to choose from. It's even common to find ones with marking on them to help you pace your water throughout the day. You're bound to find one you love. 

Buy a Bottle or Glass You Enjoy Drinking From

The bottle or glass you choose to drink from can make a BIG difference in how much you drink...or don't drink. Sometimes it's just as simple as picking a great color, a shape that fits just right in your hand or your cup holder, or the right cap/lid that makes drinking easier.

Personally, I barely drink a drop if I have to drink from a glass. I prefer a water bottle. And I have my favorite colors and sizes that I use...

...which brings me to my next point...

Size Matters

It seems to be easier to drink smaller bottles, more frequently, versus larger bottles. A smaller bottle is less overwhelming.

  • 4, 16oz bottles are easier to drink than 2, 32oz bottles or 1, 64oz bottle 

Carry Your Bottle With You at All Times

You can't drink what you don't have. 'Nough said.

Water Tips #3: Drink Other Acceptable Fluids

Any low calorie, sugar free drink (less than 10 calories) can be used like water to help you reach your 64oz daily fluid goal. While water is certainly the best fluid choice, there are lots of other options!

In the early post op period, sugar free beverages are often easier to drink than water. That being said...

... a very common complaint after surgery, is “Everything Tastes Too Sweet”

What to Do:

  1. Drink beverages that do NOT contain artificial sweeteners
  2. Use less Crystal Light, flavor drops, etc. to flavor your water
  3. Dilute your sugar free drinks with more water or ice

Pro Tip:

Water or any low calorie, sugar free beverages "count" toward the 64oz daily fluid goal.

Water Tips #4: Sip, Sip, Sip

Sip, don’t gulp. Drinking too fast can cause stomach pain, bloating, nausea, or vomiting after surgery. 

In the beginning, make a goal to sip 1 ounce every 15 minutes. Then repeat.

The Math: 

Drinking 1 ounce every 15 minutes = 4 ounces per hour = 16 ounces in 4 hours = 64 ounces in 16 hours

That's how to meet a 64oz fluid goal when you can't drink very much at one time. So sip, sip, sip all day long in the early post op period! Over time it will get easier to drink a larger volume at one time.

Pro Tip:

Use a child sippy cup in the beginning. If you're a guzzler, it will force you to sip!

Water Tips #5: Have a Plan

“Failing to plan is planning to fail!”. Plan to drink a certain amount within a certain time frame.

Do the Math

This requires knowing

  • How many ounces your water bottle/glass is
  • How many bottles/glasses you need to finish each day to total at least 64oz
  • What time you need to finish each one

Like this:

Water Drinking Schedule Example

6am-10am: 16oz bottle

10am-2pm: 16oz bottle

2pm-6pm:16oz bottle

6pm-10pm: 16oz bottle

To Help Stick to Your Plan:

1. Set a Timer to Remind you to Drink:

Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Thirst is NOT the correct cue. Simply drink because you have to…even if you’re not thirsty.

2. Stay Accountable by Using an App:

  • Hydro Coach
  • WaterMinder
  • iHydrate

BONUS Water Tip:

This is my personal hydration strategy and it works like a charm, so of course I love it!

  • I have four, reusable water bottles, each 16 ounces.
  • Each one is a different color!
  • I fill them all in the morning.
  • If I don't get them ready all at once, I'm not likely to stop and fill one when I need it, so I risk falling short of my fluid goal.
  • I know what time I need to finish each bottle. 
  • I drink them in the same color coded order every day.

MY Personal Hydration Strategy

6am-10am: Yellow bottle 1st- A bright sunny color to start the day. 

10am-2pm: Green bottle 2nd- A healthy color to remind me to eat healthy green foods during the day too! 

2pm-6pm: Orange bottle 3rd- An energetic color to get me through the afternoon 

6pm-10pm: Lavender bottle last- A nice calming color to help me end the day 

Kinda silly, I know…but I have to tell you…It works like charm!! 😉

Fluid/Water Tips: FAQs

Q: What About Caffeine, Carbonation, and Using a Straw?

A: Get the low down here.

Q: Do You Have Any More Water Tips?
A: See my Fluid Drinking Strategies video for additional tips that cover the common post op barriers to drinking.

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