Hydration is one of the most important aspects to focus on after bariatric surgery. It affects all facets of the body like hair, skin, mucus membranes, circulation, energy levels, metabolism and of course, your digestive system. The body is compromised of up to 60% water – that’s a lot of fluids! But how do you know if you are dehydrated?
Signs and symptoms of dehydration:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dark yellow/amber urine.
- Reduced urine output – less than 3-4 times per day.
- Becoming dizzy or lightheaded.
- Dry mouth, lips, skin, eyes.
- Fast heart rate.
After bariatric surgery, it can be difficult to stay hydrated since people are not able to hold much volume in their new stomach. This is especially true in the early post-op stages after surgery when there is increased swelling and inflammation. Thankfully, there are some key strategies to help you stay on track with fluids!
- Write out a schedule for day – make sure that you have spaced out your 64 fluid ounces over your entire day. Aim for 8 ounces per hour or 2 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes.
- Set timers or reminders. The Baritastic App is a great resource for this!
- Use ice chips and sugar-free popsicles.
- Always have something with you to sip on wherever you go. Keep it in plain sight as a reminder to drink, drink, drink!
- Use electrolyte drinks / supplements. Electrolytes help keep you hydrated with the water you drink and are an important part of hydration.
- Have an accountability buddy such as a spouse, coworker, or friend to help keep you on track!
A very common side-effect of dehydration is constipation. This is often found in bariatric patients due to a variety of factors:
- High protein diet with minimal fiber can lead to constipation.
- Not staying active / becoming sedentary.
- Pain medication use.
- The surgery itself.
- Reduced solid food intake during early post-op stages.
- Reduced fiber intake.
- And of course, reduced fluid intake.
If you are experiencing constipation after surgery, it is important to talk to your medical team or Dietitian to help alleviate the problem. In the meantime, there are some simple steps you can take to get things going again (literally and figuratively!).
- Drink, drink, drink! Sip on your fluids like it is your full-time job. Refer to the above recommendations to help stay hydrated.
- Start a daily stool softener that is stimulant/laxative free the day after surgery.
- Walk, walk, walk! Ensure that you are staying active and walk every hour. Additional exercise (once cleared) has been shown to help keep the digestive system going strong!
- Once on soft food diet and after, add a daily fiber supplement like psyllium husk to increase fiber intake. NOTE: Fluid intake must be adequate for fiber to help. Otherwise you risk becoming more constipated.
- Start an over the counter probiotic. Contact your Dietitian or medical team for recommendations.
- If ready and able on regular food diet, incorporate more non-starchy vegetables, fruits with skin and high-fiber carbs to keep your digestive system healthy.
Hydration can be one of the most difficult tasks after bariatric surgery, but with a little planning, good resources and great support, you will be on your way to achieving your weight loss goals!