Bariatric Surgery Patients: You Shouldn’t Drink With Meals

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This is a video I did not too long after my own bariatric surgery back in 2009 as a visual to help understand why there’s the rule about not drinking while eating or for awhile just after. It’s great to hear from folks time and again how this has helped them visualize just why they have been told this over and over, that how before seeing this, they just didn’t get why it was a big deal.

This video was from a time before the sleeve procedure was so prevalent, and while the sleeve doesn’t behave in quite the same way as the pouch from a RNY or band, some of the overall effects still apply.

  • Eat and drink slowly. Eating or drinking too quickly may cause dumping syndrome — when foods and liquids enter your small intestine rapidly and in larger amounts than normal, causing nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating and eventually diarrhea. To prevent dumping syndrome, choose foods and liquids low in fat and sugar, eat and drink slowly, and wait 30 to 45 minutes before or after each meal to drink liquids. Take at least 30 minutes to eat your meals and 30 to 60 minutes to drink 1 cup (237 milliliters) of liquid.
  • Keep meals small. During the diet progression, you should eat several small meals a day and sip liquids slowly throughout the day (not with meals). You might first start with six small meals a day, then move to four meals and finally, when following a regular diet, decrease to three meals a day. Each meal should include about a half-cup to a cup of food. Make sure you eat only the recommended amounts and stop eating before you feel full
  • Drink liquids between meals. Expect to drink at least 6 to 8 cups (48 to 64 ounces, or 1.4 to 1.9 liters) of fluids a day to prevent dehydration. Drinking liquids with your meals can cause pain, nausea and vomiting as well as dumping syndrome. Also, drinking too much liquid at or around mealtime can leave you feeling overly full and prevent you from eating enough nutrient-rich food.
  • Chew food thoroughly. The new opening that leads from your stomach into your intestine is very small, and larger pieces of food can block the opening. Blockages prevent food from leaving your stomach and can cause vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain. Take small bites of food and chew them to a pureed consistency before swallowing. If you can’t chew the food thoroughly, don’t swallow it.
  • Focus on high-protein foods. Immediately after your surgery, eating high-protein foods can help you heal. High-protein, low-fat choices remain a good long-term diet option after your surgery, as well. Try adding lean cuts of beef, chicken, pork, fish or beans to your diet. Low-fat cheese, cottage cheese and yogurts also are good protein sources.
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. After your surgery, it may be difficult for your digestive system to tolerate foods that are high in fat or added sugars. Avoid foods that are high in fat (such as fried foods, ice cream and candy bars). Look for sugar-free options of soft drinks and dairy products.
  • Try new foods one at a time. After surgery, certain foods may cause nausea, pain and vomiting or may block the opening of the stomach. The ability to tolerate foods varies from person to person. Try one new food at a time and chew thoroughly before swallowing. If a food causes discomfort, don’t eat it. As time passes, you may be able to eat this food. Foods and liquids that commonly cause discomfort include meat, bread, raw vegetables, fried foods and carbonated beverages.
  • Take recommended vitamin and mineral supplements.Because a portion of your small intestine is bypassed after surgery, your body won’t be able to absorb enough nutrients from your food. You’ll likely need to take a multivitamin supplement every day for the rest of your life. Talk to your doctor about what type of multivitamin might be right for you and whether you might need to take additional supplements, such as calcium.

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