Alcohol after Bariatric Surgery

After bariatric surgery, a lot of talk is put into the foods we eat. Eat these foods and omit those foods, etc. Obviously, the stress of liquid calories also comes into play. A common question from many patients is, “When can I have a drink again?” or “How many drinks can I have?”. Let’s face it, as adults, many of us enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage. But after weight loss surgery, your body goes through a lot of changes. One of those big changes is how your body processes what you drink. And that’s something you really need to pay attention to when it comes to alcohol. There are several things you should know regarding alcohol after bariatric surgery of any type.

  1. Your body absorbs alcohol more quickly.Studies show patients who have had gastric bypass surgery not only get drunker faster, they remain intoxicated longer after drinking. After gastric bypass, the stomach empties very quickly, allowing alcohol to go almost directly to the bowel where it is absorbed. A patient who has had gastric bypass absorbs four times as much alcohol from any given drink than they did before surgery. You must exercise extreme caution when drinking after weight loss surgery. Eating less, absorbing more can lead to some very embarrassing or even life threatening conditions.
  2. Alcohol addiction is a risk. If you have or have a history of an addictive personality, (food, drugs, smoking) there’s an increased risk of alcohol addiction and abuse after weight loss surgery. Even if you are a recovered alcoholic for 20 years, once your relationship with food changes, alcohol can come back into the picture. Think about it…. How do you deal with stress? Do (or did) you eat? Do you smoke a cigarette? Do you have a glass of wine at the end of the night? Do you exercise? Once food can no longer be your release, some people turn to other harmful habits. Please use with caution.
  3. Alcohol and sodas are filled with empty calories. Most drinks are filled with empty calories, and many of us don’t stop at just one. Those calories can add up and sabotage your weight loss efforts fairly quickly. A margarita in the summertime can add an additional 450-550 calories PER drink!! A glass of white wine after work is about 120 calories.
  4. Pass on the sugar please. Did you know that studies have shown that sugar is just as, if not more addictive than cocaine!? When you ingest sugar there are receptors in your brain that are activated making you crave and want more. Beer, soda, and mixed drinks are overloaded with highly concentrated forms of simple sugars. You’ll have a spike in your blood sugars, followed by a surge in insulin and essentially a blood sugar crash a few hours later making you crave more sugar. Drinking alcohol can make you feel much worse in the long run and can lead to a post-drinking binge on sugar.

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