You’ve just joined a club comprised of people dedicated to regaining good health and leaving bad habits behind.
Whether you live alone, with a partner or a family, your new bariatric lifestyle will affect the way you prepare meals going forward. If you have a family or partner, they will benefit by the healthful meals you prepare, even if they don’t have weight challenges.
Two Essential Tools
How can you make the transition so you’re eating the right foods for your new life but also prepare meals for others in your household?
There are two key tools you’ll need for post-weight loss surgery meal planning success:
Keep in mind, if there are family staple meals that you need to continue to prepare that may not be on your new bariatric meal plan, remember to enjoy your meal first, before preparing these heavier dishes.
You may also consider “lightening up” some of your family staple meals — talk to your dietitian for tips on how to modify recipes.
5 Tips for Successful Meal Plans Following Bariatric Surgery
If you’ve reached this milestone and are ready to start bariatric meal planning, we’ve outlined some tips.
1. Pre-portion your smaller meals.
Portions need to be small on your weight loss surgery diet. When meal planning, prepare regular-sized recipes, divide them into weight loss surgery-sized portions, and store these portions in individual packets or containers and freeze them.
The benefits are that you get to make more interesting recipes, and you have multiple meals on hand after cooking only once. These meals can be pulled out of the freezer and heated in a pinch when you’re too busy to cook.
2. Use weekends for healthy meal planning, shopping and cooking.
Use the weekends (or your scheduled days off) to prepare what you can in advance.
- Figure out what to serve, buy ingredients, and prepare some recipes.
- Try to coordinate meal plans in conjunction with what’s on sale for the week at your favorite grocery store so that your meals follow your prescribed plan and are as cost-effective as possible.
- Use online resources such as BariatricPal.com and ObesityHelp.com to discover new recipes to try. If you’re unsure if a food is on your plan, check with your dietitian.
3. It’s ok to eat out when you do it right.
What to do when you’re low on food or have no time to cook? You might be surprised to read this, but it’s ok to eat out, order in or (gasp) even drive-through.
Remember your bariatric eating rules — eat healthy protein-based meals. Go online to local restaurants and look at their menus before you go. Whether it’s a side salad with low-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing and a grilled chicken patty from McDonald’s (150 calories, 22 grams of protein) or half of a Chicken Bella dinner with zucchini and spaghetti squash from Ruby Tuesday (260 calories, 23 grams of protein), you can fit it into your new way of eating.
4. Use smart and fast cooking options.
When time is short and you’re hungry, try these three convenient cooking ideas.
- Use meal helpers. Heat up a bag of frozen vegetables and serve it with chicken or tuna, or toss in some tofu. Add some spices or a touch of fat free, low calorie salad dressing for added flavor.
- Use low fat cheese or yogurt. This provides a tasty and protein-rich meal to give you energy. Try whole grain cereal sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt and fruit or low fat cottage or ricotta cheese with a dash of cinnamon or low-fat string cheese and baby carrots for a snack.
- Enjoy your frozen servings. Take advantage of those frozen servings you prepared during the weekend. They were made for times like these. Problem solved!
5. Ask our bariatric dietitian for personalized guidance.
Your dietitian will help you plan your meals depending on your family circumstances. If someone else in your household manages the cooking, bring him or her along to your office visit. Your bariatric weight loss journey is a team effort. The more people in your life who are involved in supporting your efforts, the better!
About Dr. Seun Sowemimo, MD, FACS
Dr. Seun is a top NJ bariatric surgeon and the medical director at Prime Surgicare, with offices in Freehold serving Monmouth and Ocean counties. He is board-certified, Columbia and Yale University fellowship-trained in advanced laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgery.
To learn more, visit his YouTube channel or call Prime Surgicare at (732)-982-2002.