Let’s talk about food. It’s my very favorite topic in the whole wide world.
What’s on your plate at breakfast? I know that many people are on the intermittent fasting train (myself included), but at the beginning of your bariatric journey, intermittent fasting is not going to work. The reason why is because your tiny tummy cannot hold sufficient food in one or two sittings. You need that “extra meal” in order to get in sufficient nutrients. As time passes, and the new stomach pouch allows you to consume larger portions, then adding a bit of IF can make sense.
I wanted to make a mention of intermittent fasting because typically, those of us who use this tool, will skip breakfast.
A perfect post-bariatric breakfast is high in protein and contains whole, live, fresh, natural, good quality food. We can have an egg, maybe a dish of cottage cheese or yogurt with fresh berries. What about chia seed pudding? A smoothie that is thrown together with real food ingredients. These are some perfect breakfast examples.
I love that a lot of you are throwing some protein in your coffee, but I do think that sometimes “real food” can be overlooked because we believe that a shot of protein powder is the solution for breakfast. Although protein powder may have a high concentration of protein, it also has a lack of other ingredients that naturally accompany protein found in eggs, dairy, and meat. That same protein shake can also have a lot of hidden additives. Therefore, I like to switch the shake for food early in the bariatric journey. I know that these protein products are convenient but real food also causes “specific dynamic action” (SDA). Whole food needs to be digested, and your body burns calories while processing it. This makes it preferable to find most of your protein in the whole food source. Shakes can be a great “lift” but don’t make them your one and only option.
Who’s having lunch? That would be me and probably you also.
I like salads and soups for lunch. I can really control my nutrition this way. For a salad, I will choose a protein, add some veggies, top with some healthy fat and we have an easy meal. I also encourage this same lunch to my clients. What about soup? We can pack in the nutrients with a hearty soup. Once again, I will choose my protein, choose my base flavors (stock or seasonings), add veggies and cook until soft. I like to throw in a dab of Greek yogurt for a creamier texture. Why do we need to overcomplicate things? Find three salads and two soups that you enjoy, and find easy to make, and have them on repeat each week.
I like a chicken Cesar salad, a Caprese salad, and a shrimp salad – when I do my groceries, I pretty much have things down-pat. Since I am going to create the same dishes almost every week. My soups will be a creamy cauliflower with added chicken, and a chicken/veggie soup. Add chicken, add chicken stock, fill with your favorite veggies, and top with a dab of yogurt if you like things creamier.
Dinner is where I get more creative. I don’t have the time to get fancy in the kitchen for breakfast or lunch but at dinner, I like to shine a bit more. Having said that, the same rules apply with dinner. I choose a protein and then decide how to make that protein shine with the addition of other ingredients. Thanks to google, I have millions of recipes to choose from. “Easy Salmon Recipes” and BAM, I have salmon dishes coming out of my ears.
Our food choices are the main tool we have to lose weight and maintain our losses for a long time to come. Veering away from food prep, meal planning, is a terrible idea. It sets us up where we are at the mercy of restaurants, delis, fast food venues. As soon as we hand over control to “others”, we risk re-gain. I know that food prep and planning can be a drag for a lot of us, but you know what is even a bigger drag? REGAIN.
Let’s be sure to put a lot of thought into our meals. By putting in the thought now, we can create a system for ourselves that can last us a lifetime. Put yourself first and love yourself enough to take the time to learn some cooking skills. Create menus for yourself and your family which honor your health. There’s nothing better than a beautiful, healthy meal that you put together for yourself or for yourself and others.
Sheri Burke RHN specializing in bariatric nutrition
About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.
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