What to Eat After Weight Loss Surgery
Confused about what to eat after weight loss surgery? You're not alone. With so many diet trends, conflicting nutrition advice, and confusing health messages out there, it can be difficult to sort through it all. Additionally, most weight loss surgery patients can only eat about 3-6 ounces at a time once they are fully healed from surgery, so figuring out how to get in adequate nutrition can be quite challenging.
Here are some tips to make those bites count:
1. Aim for protein at every meal.
The current guidelines from the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommend a minimum of 60-80 grams of protein per day (however, make sure to talk with your surgical team to determine what is best for you). If you are a post-op patient, you know that reaching this protein goal can be easier said than done. To make it more achievable, try to include protein at every meal and snack throughout the day. High protein foods include eggs, dairy products, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, beef, and non-animal sources such as tofu, edamame, and legumes.
Eating protein foods in their most natural form (i.e. not processed) has a few advantages. First, eating solid protein takes a high amount of energy for the body to break it down, which means you burn calories by digesting it! (Pretty cool, right?) Additionally, because it takes more time to chew and digest, your brain will actually be more satisfied with the meal and you will feel full for longer.
2. Include fiber-filled carbohydrates.
Not all carbohydrates are created equal and that means you have to make smart decisions when it comes to choosing which type to eat. Complex carbohydrates are usually the ones that look like a plant or have tough skin and seeds. These carbohydrates are usually filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because stomach space is so limited after surgery, it might seem silly to only have 2 broccoli florets after eating some chicken, but those bites still make a difference. Some fiber-filled examples include berries, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, carrots, snap peas, lentils, and edamame.
3. Healthy fats
While fats can be dense with calories, this macronutrient is critical for overall health and wellness. Fat is essential for brain function, hormone synthesis, and keeping your skin looking soft and smooth! Adding a small amount of fat to a meal can also provide an extra boost of flavor and make a meal more satisfying. In addition to getting some fat naturally from animal foods, aim to include fat from plant foods such as olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts, nut butter, and seeds.
So, what does this look like in real life? Well, here's an example:
Breakfast- 1 scrambled egg (P), 2 Tbsp diced onion, bell pepper, and spinach (FFC), and 1-2 slices of avocado (F)
Snack: 2 oz turkey jerky (P), 1/4 apple (FFC), and 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (F)
Lunch: 3 oz baked salmon (P), 3-4 roasted brussel sprouts (FFC), and 1 tsp olive oil to coat veggies while they roast (F)
Snack: 6 oz plain Greek yogurt with 1/4 packet ranch seasoning (P), raw veggies for dipping (FFC), 2 tsp olive oil to mix with the Greek yogurt and ranch seasoning (F)
Dinner: 2-3 meatballs (P), 1/3 cup zucchini noodles and marinara (FFC), 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (F)
**(P)- protein, (FFC)- fiber-filled carbohydrate, (F)- healthy fat
Now it's time to practice making your own mini meals!
1st: Choose a protein
2nd: Pick a fiber-filled carbohydrate
3rd: Garnish with healthy fat
Share your mini-meal ideas in the comments below! I would love to know what you come up with!
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