What to Drink After Surgery
If You Don't Like Water

Knowing what to drink after surgery and having a variety of options is important because staying hydrated after a weight loss procedure isn’t as easy as it was beforehand. 

It's ok if you don't like water per se, because any zero-calorie, non-carbonated, decaffeinated beverages are ok to use toward your 64 ounce daily fluid goal.

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.

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

Before surgery, you may have been able to slam down a bottle of water in seconds flat when you felt thirsty. But you simply won’t be able to do that anymore, especially in the first few days and weeks post op.

It’s harder to drink 64 ounces of daily fluid after bariatric surgery, but it’s possible with planning and discipline.

Get familiar with the list of what to drink after surgery, and then see my important strategies of how to do so. While water is certainly the best thing to drink after surgery, there are many other options.

Any Zero-Calorie, Non-Carbonated, Decaf Beverages Counts

What to Drink After Surgery

These Do NOT Contain Artificial Sweeteners:

  • Water: cold, room temperature, or warm
  • Alkaline Water (“pH water”)
  • “Fruit Infused Water”/ “Spa Water:” water + added slices of lemon, cucumber, lime, orange, etc.
  • Water + True Lemon, True Lime, True Orange or True Grapefruit
  • Herbal tea (Chamomile, Mint, etc.)
  • Decaffeinated tea
  • Broth, Bouillon (Chicken, Vegetable, Beef)
  • Hint Water

What to Drink After Surgery

These Contain Artificial Sweeteners:

Note: Just about everything will taste too sweet after surgery. Use more water or add crushed ice to dilute beverages to your taste

  • Propel
  • Crystal Light
  • Zero Calorie Sports Drinks like Powerade Zero, Gatorade Zero
  • Vitamin Water Zero
  • Bai
  • Sugar free flavored waters

What to Drink After Surgery:
Get to Know Alkaline Water

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

...try alkaline water.

All waters are NOT created equally. "Alkaline water" refers to the pH of water. And I have to tell you...Alkaline water JUST TASTES BETTER.

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 brand names.

What NOT to Drink After Surgery

Avoid beverages that have more than 5-10 calories.

Avoid carbonated beverages

This includes:

  • Soda
  • Sugar Tea
  • Fruit Juice
  • Full Sugar Sports Drinks
  • Coffee drinks
  • Fruit “Smoothies”
  • Horchata

How to Avoid Dehydration:
Top 10 Fluid Strategies

1.  Carry your water at all times. You can’t drink what you don’t have!

2.  Avoid carbonated beverages. The bubbles take up too much space and will make you feel full, thus preventing you from reaching the 64-ounce daily fluid goal.

3.  Sip, don’t gulp. Drinking too fast can cause stomach pain, bloating, nausea or vomiting. Pro Tip: Use a child sippy cup.

4. Sip all day long: It’s the hardest to drink in the beginning. Make a goal to sip 1 ounce every 15 minutes. Then repeat. Over time it will get easier to drink a larger volume at one time.

5. Break the math down:

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

6. Drink room temperature or warm fluids if cold beverages “hurt”

7. 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.

8. Use an app to keep track of how many ounces you’re drinking daily:

  • Hydro Coach
  • WaterMinder
  • iHydrate

9. Have a plan (“Failing to plan is planning to fail!”). Plan to drink a certain amount by a set time. For example:

  • 8 oz by 8am
  • 24 oz by 12pm
  • 40 oz by 4pm
  • 64 oz by 10pm

10. Similarly, drink according to a fluid schedule. This requires knowing how many ounces your water bottle/glass is … how many you need to finish each day…and by what time you need to finish each one. Like this:

  • 6am-10am: 16oz bottle
  • 10am-2pm: 16oz bottle
  • 2pm-6pm:16oz bottle
  • 6pm-10pm: 16oz bottle

This is MY Personal Water Drinking Strategy

  • I have four, reusable water bottles that are each 16 ounces
  • Each one is a different color!
  • I fill them all in the morning. I know I have trouble taking the time to refill, so if I don’t get them all ready at once,  I’m likely to fall short of my fluid goal.
  • I know what time I need to finish each bottle
  • I drink them in the same order every day:

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!! 😉

What to Drink After Surgery:
Possible Barriers

“Water Tastes Funny/Different Than It Used To”

What to Do:  Try a different brand of bottled water, they all taste different. If you drink tap water, add a filter. Try alkaline water. Try a beverage other than water, like tea or broth.

“My Beverages Taste Too Sweet”

What to Do: Drink beverages that do NOT contain artificial sweeteners. OR, use smaller amount of Crystal Light, flavor drops, etc. to flavor your water. OR, simply dilute your beverages with water or ice.

“It Hurts to Drink

What to Do:  Change the temperature of your beverage. Room temperature water or warm water with lemon or warm broth or hot herbal tea may be easier to drink than cold water.

Note: If you’ve gotten dehydrated it may be hard to drink. Assure you’re drinking at least 64oz every day.

See my helpful video if you have trouble drinking fluids:

Fluid Drinking Strategies

What to Drink After Surgery FAQs

Q: Can I Drink Coffee?

A: Coffee CAN cause stomach irritation after surgery but it’s ok in small amounts once your stomach has healed. What gets added to coffee is usually more of the problem than the coffee itself!

Are you drinking cream with a splash of coffee?! Is It black or white?!

If you need more than 1 cup of coffee per day, do a self check. Are you:

  • Getting enough sleep?
  • Drinking 64 ounces of fluids?
  • Eating regular meals?

Q: Can I Drink with Meals?

A: Drink water and eat meals at separate time to keep from filling up too quickly. Try to separate eating and drink by 15-30 minutes. 

Q: Can I use a straw?

A: A straw may or may not be best for you. You may suck in more air if you use a straw and therefore feel uncomfortable. Or, you may find you can drink more fluids when using a straw and it doesn't bother you at all. Try it out to make the best determination.

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