Tips for Dehydration after Bariatric Surgery

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

For many of our patients, drinking enough water is a daily struggle.

Do any of the following comments sound familiar?

  • I just forget.

  • I don’t feel thirsty.

  • I’m too busy.

  • I feel limited by not drinking and eating at the same time.

  • Water is boring!

Drinking water after surgery can cause some discomfort (like a rock hitting your stomach), sometimes it doesn’t taste right because of taste changes after surgery, and sometimes the temperature of the water can leave you feeling uncomfortable.

Other times, you may simply just forget to drink and you just don’t feel as thirsty.

Not drinking enough water can leave you dehydrated.

How do you know if you’re beginning to get dehydrated?

There are 3 main ways of figuring this out:

  • Do I pee 3 times per day, or less?

  • Is my pee dark yellow in colour and smells more than usual?

  • Do I get dizzy when I stand/sit up or bend over?

If you’ve had bariatric surgery and answered yes to one or more of these questions, there’s a chance you may be dehydrated.

Some of these symptoms can be related to other causes as well, so check with your doctor, bariatric dietitian, or nurse if you’re unsure.

Here are our tips for drinking more water after surgery:

keep your water bottle nearby

Make water more convenient by…

  • Buying a fun new water bottle for work and home that gets you excited. Ideally, something colourful that catches your eye;

  • Keeping a water bottle or water glass within arm’s reach at all times, regardless of where you are (e.g. at work, in the car, on the couch, in bed, etc.);

  • Keeping cold water in the fridge at all times. Buy a water pitcher or a water filtering jug and place it at the front of your fridge. It needs to be visible and easy to reach to be convenient;

  • Knowing your environment. Do a tour of your workplace to remind yourself of where the water fountains or coolers are. Check if the cafeteria charges for hot water or if there’s a vending machine that sells water bottles close by;

  • Buy a smaller water bottle to carry in your purse or backpack for when you’re on the go. Ideally, it should hold no more than one to two cups. Large water bottles are often intimidating and if they are too heavy or bulky, they’re more likely to get left behind;

  • Leave a reusable water bottle in your car at all times so that you always have some on-hand.

add some flavour to your water

Get excited and add some flavour by…

Trying infused water. Add one of the following combinations to your water pitcher or water bottle:

  • Sliced cucumber + fresh mint leaves;

  • Sliced strawberries + fresh basil leaves;

  • Sliced lemon + fresh lavender;

  • Blackberries + fresh thyme;

  • One cinnamon stick (for best results leave overnight in your water bottle)

Using flavoured ice cubes.

This idea involves freezing concentrated fruit purees, spirals of citrus rinds, and/or fresh herbs into ice cube trays. Adding one to three of these ice cubes into your water not only adds a fun flavour and keeps your water colder, but it’s also a colourful touch.

This is a great alternative to store-bought water enhancers that contain artificial sweeteners.

Example: puree two cups of chopped watermelon with the juice of one lime. Freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. Add two ice cubes into your reusable water bottle;

Making a homemade tea with an added twist.

Add eight ounces (one cup) of boiling water to the combinations below. Drink hot or refrigerate overnight and enjoy cold.

  • 1/2 sliced lemon + 1/2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger + 1 tsp honey;

  • A green tea bag + fresh mint leaves;

  • A black tea bag + orange slices or peach slices;

  • An earl grey tea bag + sprig of lavender + lemon slices +1 tsp honey;

  • A white tea bag + mint leaves + dash of lime juice;

  • Treating yourself to some loose tea leaves or flavoured tea bags at specialty shops.

baritastic app

Set reminders by…

  1. Downloading an app. There are countless free apps out there to help you track your daily water intake and even ones that will send you constant reminders throughout the day to drink;

  2. Add a sticky note to your computer monitor. Be sure to change the placement of the sticky note every week so it doesn’t blend into the background;

  3. If you’re someone who does repetitive tasks at work, use this to your advantage! For example, challenge yourself to take three sips of water every time you read a new email and every time you send an email;

  4. Buy a ‘time stamped’ water bottle or simply recreate one by writing the hours of your work day down the side of your bottle with a permanent marker. For example, evenly space 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 12 a.m. down one side of the bottle and 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. down the opposite side of the bottle. This strategy will also help you to pace yourself throughout the day.

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