The sun comes up, you roll out of bed, stumble into the kitchen and grab a hot mug of . . . water? It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as coffee, does it? When can you drink coffee after gastric sleeve surgery? For greater post-op success, it is imperative you follow your doctor’s advice and instructions, and this includes recommendations for drinking coffee.
You will change many of your favorite foods with gastric sleeve surgery as you begin to create new habits and routines (1). Having a cup of happiness in the morning or an afternoon pick-me-up is one of those changes. It doesn’t have to be forever, but coffee (just like chocolate) will need to wait its turn before returning to your daily schedule.
Every person is unique, so your exact diet recommendations may have minor differences from mine. Check with your doctor for specific, individual instructions regarding coffee after gastric bypass surgery. In general, due to the potential negative effects, you will need to stop drinking coffee for 2 weeks prior to surgery and wait 30-90 days post-op to resume your java habit.
Why Can’t I Have Coffee?
Many of the diet restrictions before and after bariatric surgery are used to minimize irritations. Limiting caffeine intake is one part of that. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which can irritate the lining of your stomach and lead to indigestion. By restricting your caffeine intake, your doctor is trying to prevent any complications.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means it causes you to urinate more frequently, forcing water out of your body. Gastric sleeve patients are already at risk for dehydration, and coffee would increase that risk even further. It is important that you get all the ounces of water your doctor tells you.
Our bodies are amazing, and intricate cellular processes depend on adequate nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. The gastric sleeve post-op diet prioritizes nutrient absorption so your cells can continue doing their jobs. Unfortunately, caffeine reduces your body’s ability to absorb these vital nutrients, especially calcium and iron, so it is best to follow your doctor’s advice and pass on the coffee for now.
But What About Decaf Coffee?
If you’re still trying to figure out a way to enjoy your cup of joe, decaf coffee is not necessarily your answer. Although decaf coffee is considered better than caffeinated, after gastric sleeve surgery, most doctors will still not recommend it for at least 30 days post op (2).
Coffee is acidic, whether it is caffeinated or not. This acid can irritate the lining of your stomach. It can also be a culprit in exacerbating acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). In turn, acid reflux could lead to vomiting which we definitely want to avoid after gastric bypass.
Alternatives to Coffee After Gastric Bypass Surgery
If you are anxiously awaiting your doctor’s approval before you can have coffee again, there are alternatives (3) to help you pass the 30-90 day stretch.
Water is obviously a necessity as it is important to keep your body hydrated. However, if you’re getting a little tired of water, there are other more flavorful options. Infusing water with fruit or herbs is one way to add a little pizazz to your water if you’re getting bored. Other options include warm broth, Crystal Light, or sugar-free popsicles.
Whatever alternative you choose, make sure it meets your doctor’s recommendations for your hydration goals.
The Wait is Over!
Once the 90 days are up (or however long your doctor recommended for you), you can re-evaluate your thirst for coffee. Have you already broken that addiction? Do you reallllly want to restart it?
If you’ve gone 90 days without coffee you might want to consider the benefits of avoiding caffeine long-term. If you avoid caffeine after gastric sleeve surgery you will:
- Avoid nutrient loss
- Have an easier time staying hydrated
- Prevent stomach irritation
- Limit side effects such as acid reflux or vomiting
If you decide to engage your coffee habit again, then make sure you check with your doctor. If you get approval, begin with small amounts – no more than one 8-ounce cup. Sip it slowly. You will still need to be drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day, so always prioritize water over coffee. Even though it’s liquid, coffee will not count toward your total hydration goal.
Can I have cream in my coffee after weight loss surgery?
Drink your coffee black if you can. If black coffee is a bit harsh for you, then you can use nonfat milk or milk substitute as an alternative. Make sure the nonfat milk is fortified with calcium to help with nutrient absorption. You do not want the empty calories from full-fat creamer or sugar.
What is the best Starbucks drink after weight loss surgery?
If a friend invites you out for coffee after your surgery, what is the best thing to order? If you and your doctor have decided to add caffeine back into your diet after gastric sleeve surgery, then it’s helpful to know your best choices at Starbucks or a similar coffee shop.
Any small brewed coffee will be the first choice. Again, drink it black if you can, but use nonfat milk or substitute if you can’t. Avoid the empty calories in sugar.
A hot or iced caffe Americano is a solid second choice as it has only 10 calories.
A short skinny cinnamon dolce latte has 60 calories, and is sugar-free, if you need a little flavor. Although you will need to make adjustments to your lifestyle and beverage choices, you don’t need to give up coffee forever. Follow your doctor’s advice and make the best choices you can.
The success of your gastric sleeve surgery depends on lifestyle changes and adherence to your post-op diet. Bariatric patients are already at risk for dehydration and nutrient malabsorption; coffee can exacerbate these risks.
With your doctor’s permission, you will be able to enjoy coffee in moderation 30-90 days post op. It is important to choose foods and drinks based on hydration, vitamin and nutritional value, and their role in healthy weight management. You will be thanking yourself for these healthy choices later.