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What should I be eating one year post op? Bariatric Edition

What should I be eating one-year post-op? How can I prepare for these meals?
If you’ve had recent bariatric surgery, you are probably wondering what your diet is going to look like one-year post-op. Recent post-ops have a tremendous amount of restriction in the early days but not to worry, there is some stretch in the pouch and your diet one-week post-op and one-year post-op will look very different. 
By one year post-op, you will have lost a lot of weight. Some people reach their goal weight by the one-year mark and they go into maintenance. Your diet will look different if you are still actively trying to lose weight as opposed to being at your ideal weight.
For today, let’s imagine that you are at your goal or getting very close to the goal. 
We are always going to prioritize protein. Protein is the first step in building a healthy plate. (All my vegans and vegetarians, I love you but this blog is for the carnivores. If you want to discuss proper meal planning for vegans and vegetarians, one-year post-op, reach out to me).
Meal planning and snack planning go like this … “what protein is going onto my plate”? Here is a simple list of protein foods:
Eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, red meat, greek yogurt, cottage cheese.
Next up, what veggie goes well with my protein? Here is a simple list of some of my favorite veggies: 
All green leafy veg, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, cabbage, peppers, Brussel sprouts.
If I am trying to maintain my weight as opposed to actively losing weight, I will add some healthy fat to my diet: 
Avocados, nuts, seeds, butter, oils.
I always use berries to bring more joy to my diet. They are high in fiber and low in sugars.
Next up – planning the actual meal. Here are some examples:
  • Eggs with spinach and mushrooms
  • Chicken with pico de Gallo
  • Chicken vegetable soup
  • Chicken with coleslaw
  • Turkey with Brussel sprouts and gravy 
  • Baked fish with tomatoes and celery 
  • Salmon with broccoli
  • Shrimp with grilled peppers
  • Scallops with asparagus
  • Chili with ground beef
  • Homemade burgers with lettuce and tomatoes
  • Pork loin with cauliflower mash
  • Steak with green beans
  • Greek yogurt with raspberries 
  • Cottage cheese with blueberries
And guys, that’s just the beginning. You have so many options to choose from. 
This is how I like to teach my post-ops to meal plan. This is also how I meal plan for my family. I start with the sales at the supermarket. Which proteins are on sale this week? Whatever is on sale is going to make its way into my shopping cart and I go from there … which vegetables pair well with my protein? I grab some berries next. I make sure to choose a super high-quality greek yogurt and cottage cheese that is not “light or low fat”. Those stay in the supermarket because if the fat has been removed, carbs and chemicals have been added in. I will grab some nuts and seeds for the week. I get my eggs with a local farmer so I pick those up on my way home from the supermarket.
When I get my grocery haul home, I get it all out on my counter and I cut and prep my veggies. I also separate and marinate the proteins I will be using for the week. This reduces food waste and it helps me to get organized. I try my best to never throw food away so I need to be always on top of it. My berries get washed and ready to go. That’s all I do for food prep. It’s just a few steps but it helps me to understand the meals I will be creating for myself and my family. 
This is exactly what I would like my post-op clients to be doing also. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If we leave it all up to the last moment, we will be weaker when we drive past the take-out places. I like to plan my cheats also. If I want to eat pizza on Friday night, I plan it. I don’t succumb because I didn’t plan the meal. I choose the pizza, and it doesn’t choose me. 
What about snacks? I like to plan those also. I have my nuts, seeds, berries. Sometimes I will prepare a chia-seed pudding with greek yogurt, berries, chia seeds, milk, and a splash of stevia. I prepare it in the daytime and I eat it for a snack in the evening. I also like to prepare crunchy veggies with hummus, or olives with my keto-crackers. I try to have a snack-plan in place. This keeps my hands out of the Dorito bag. 
Look at how easy that was? I choose to do groceries once a week. I am not a slave to the supermarket that way. Each week different proteins go on sale and each week they go into my shopping cart. Don’t get me wrong, if I want to make burgers and the hamburger meat is not on sale, I am still going to buy it but in general, I make my meal plan when I am IN the supermarket. If I was more organized, I would go online to see the weekly specials before arriving at the supermarket but this works for me. 
I would love to know how you prepare meals for yourself and your family. Do you have any tricks that you use? Do you do it differently? Do you have a day each week where you always prepare the same meals? Do you have a cheat day? How does your post-op diet look at this point? 
Healthy Hugs, 
Sheri Burke RHN

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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