Rethinking How You Consume Your Daily Water
You might wonder why every clinician you meet emphasizes drinking enough fluid after your bariatric procedure, and ultimately it comes down to one fundamental reason. Dehydration is a leading cause of hospital readmission after bariatric surgery. Drinking water after weight loss surgery may seem relatively straightforward. It can be difficult, even for a patient with an average size stomach, let alone someone whose stomach has been surgically reduced to just a few ounces.
Along with getting enough water, we must take physical and psychological cues from our bodies to know if we are drinking at the right time. While you may read the guidance of drinking 64 ounces or 8 cups daily, the amount you need will vary dramatically, depending on your exercise patterns, the temperature outside, and more. For most active post-bariatric patients, it may be closer to 80 ounces per day. Let’s delve deeper into what you should consider when determining how much water you need:
Nice and Easy Does It
The first and most crucial step is to portion out your 64 ounces of water, the minimum you should consume daily. What does portioning mean? It’s best to drink your water throughout the day and not chug it down all at once. There are several tools to make this easier, including 64-ounce water bottles that have marks for how much you should drink and at what times. These are useful in ensuring you don’t drink too fast and get the necessary water allotment for the day.
Exercise and Exertion
Second, base the additional water you drink on how much you exercise. If you are performing high-intensity exercise, you should match that with extra water. The more intense the exercise, the more water you should drink. Remember that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so increase your water consumption appropriately.
You can also determine your water intake needs based on your hunger levels. A phenomenon known as “head hunger” often tricks your brain into thinking you’re hungry, when you actually need to hydrate. Head hunger is easily avoided if you can identify it early, but if you don’t address it adequately, and instead eat to quench your thirst, you could be adding hundreds of extra calories to your diet daily. The best way to understand head hunger is to remember when your last meal was. If you feel hungry shortly after eating an appropriately sized meal, it’s likely thirst. If you’re constantly reaching for more food, it may not be your hunger talking; you may need more water. If you drink water and feel satiated, you know exactly what was causing these hunger pangs.
Another measure of being well hydrated is your urine. You may be dehydrated if you constantly urinate yellow, darker-than-straw color urine. The number of times you urinate throughout the day is an essential indicator of your hydration status and urinating 5 to 6 times daily is a good cue that you’re maintaining proper hydration.
The Food You Eat
Lastly, take into account the types of foods you eat. Avoid salty and sweet foods as they can make you hungrier and often make you thirsty. Most highly salted or sugary foods do not help with nutrition, and this is particularly true of products with added sugars, which should be minimized after your procedure.
Ultimately, understanding your hydration after bariatric surgery relies on understanding your body and your hunger and thirst cues. You can rest assured, however, that if you drink the appropriate amount of water throughout the day and feel hungry, it’s likely because you genuinely want food, not water. At that point, your biggest decision is whether you should eat, what to eat, and ensuring that whatever you consume is healthy and nutritious.