I have become much more health conscious and logical since having my gastric bypass weight loss surgery in 2003. And I have witnessed that just as there is a method for obesity, there is a method for weight loss. As a result, making good food choices for your bariatric life can be as simple as using the bariatric diet tips that I have culled from experts in health and wellness. These bariatric diet tips have enabled me to maintain a 120+ pound weight loss.
My Diet before Bariatric Surgery
Prior to my gastric bypass surgery, building a healthy plate was never really a consideration, although I will admit I was well-schooled in general plate construction. It was a simple enough task.
Begin by engineering a volcano-shaped structure, broad at the base with an elongated slope that ends at a narrow peak. Stack a generous amount of french fries as the foundation to support the weight of fried chicken and coleslaw. Add a dinner roll to the base, and if room permits, some fried mushrooms with horseradish sauce.
And a diet coke.
There, it is done. Now give me a fork and some elbow room. I’ll meet you at the buffet for seconds in about ten minutes.
Okay, I exaggerate, but there is a point. I was not accidentally obese. Food was about volume and comfort and a mindless fork-to-plate-to-lips reflex. My cookbook was a one page recipe for disaster.
My Diet after Bariatric Surgery
After bariatric surgery, you want to be purchasing the most affordable foods that provide the maximum amount of nutrition. Today I follow a Pescatarian (seafood) Paleo Diet and once in a while I will have organic poultry. You will find that many people who are successful after bariatric surgery follow a Paleo Diet, which is a plan of eating that aligns with the original bariatric diet prescribed by Dr. E. E. Mason — the father of bariatric surgery. For more information on that, read: Gastric Bypass Pouch Rules for Dummies.
Other plans of eating popular with bariatric surgery patients are the Primal BluePrint and the Keto Diet. Although there are nuanced differences between the three plans of eating, each stresses high protein and shuns grains and processed foods. Learn more about the Primal BluePrint by reading my review: Mark Sisson Primal Cookbook Review.
I find a good crash course to learn what it means to eat healthy is the Whole30 Program. And this program provides a good foundation from which to then transition into Paleo, Primal, or Keto. I say this based on my personal experience and research. I am not a dietician and you will find both supporting and opposing views on these diets. You can read about my personal experience with the Whole30 in an article that I wrote for HealthCentral: What the Whole30 Diet Did for Me.
What I can promise you is that following these bariatric diet tips have contributed to my weight loss success since 2003. And really, to call them bariatric diet tips is a misnomer. More properly presented, this is my bariatric meal plan of eating. It is a change I have made for life.
And while I strive for perfection, I am not always perfect. When my imperfection goes on long enough I then gain weight. And that unfortunately does not take much time.
My Bariatric Diet Tips List
#1 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
FILL HALF OF YOUR PLATE WITH PROTEIN.
Select fresh lean meats, poultry, and seafood. Limit or, even better, eliminate processed meats, poultry and seafood (this includes frozen, canned, deli, and anything not refrigerated) as these are lower in nutritional content and higher in unhealthy fats and sodium as well as laden with chemical additives. The best choices are organic or locally pasture-raised antibiotic and hormone-free meat and poultry. Choose wild-caught seafood over farm-raised fish, which is laden with chemicals.
Choose a variety of proteins: Seafood, poultry, lean red meats, beans, peas, and nuts are all good sources of protein — assuming you tolerate them. Grilling, broiling, or poaching are all approaches that will not add extra fat. If adding fat go for something healthy like EVOO. Remember to keep seafood, poultry and meat portions lean, moist, and in small bite-size pieces. Fish will be the easiest to digest. And a programmable slow cooker or programmable pressure cooker can make poultry and even cheaper cuts of beef and pork very tender and easier to digest.
#2 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
EAT ORGANIC OR PASTURED MEAT AND POULTRY AND WILD-CAUGHT SEAFOOD AND FISH.
But isn’t it expensive to eat organic, you ask? Well, it certainly can be. So here are a few ways to eat organic for less money:
I’ve invested in two chest freezers. Then I stock-up on organic and pastured foods and this saves me money in the long run. Here’s what you can do:
Buy wild-caught fish in bulk from Zaycon Fresh. I’ve gotten their cod and Argentinian red shrimp and both are excellent restaurant-quality seafood. If you think you don’t like fish you just might change your mind when you eat this. And prices are much cheaper than what I pay for seafood at the supermarket!
Buy organic poultry and pastured beef and pork from ButcherBox and get free bacon and $10 off your first order. I have not tried this service but have heard many good reports from the weight loss community. Pricing certainly is attractive.
Watch for sales and stock-up on cheaper cuts of meat like organic or pastured rump roast and chuck steak. The roast can be made delicious and tender in the slow cooker or InstantPot electric pressure cooker. And the steaks are very good on the grill — get them sliced thin and sear each side to lock in flavor and juices. Although I have not tried Costco or Aldi, many people like their prices on organic and pastured foods.
Buy a side of organic or pastured beef, pork, chicken, and marrow bones (for bone broth) direct from the farm, butchered and wrapped for the freezer.
#3 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
FILL THE OTHER HALF OF YOUR PLATE WITH FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.
If you can’t do fresh then choose fermented or frozen. Eat plenty of red, orange, and dark green vegetables like red peppers and carrots and kale in both main and side dishes. Raw or lightly cooked fruit and vegetables are preferable to fully-cooked according to Dr. Mason.
Checkout this Guide for Eating after Bariatric Surgery from AmBari Nutrition.
#4 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
EAT CERTAIN TYPES OF PRODUCE ORGANICALLY.
While you can certainly run out and buy everything you need from an organic grocer, you are likely to pay top dollar for everything and blow your budget. Instead, only buy organic the produce named to the dirty dozen list. This annual list announces the produce most heavily-laden with pesticides. Produce not on the list can be bought “conventionally.” Shop lower-priced grocers like Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Costco for savings. You can also give this online coupon database a try. Farmers’ markets are great sources for inexpensive local produce, too. Some farms even allow you to come to the farm and pick your own crops in season. Use Pick Your Own as a resource to find farms near you.
Another cost-saving bariatric diet tip is to join a CSA, community-supported agriculture, for a share of produce from a local farm(s). Be sure that the farm does not use herbicides and pesticides on their crops if you want to stay organic. You can locate your nearby CSA on the LocalHarvest website.
I joined an organic CSA, built a pantry, and learned to can and freeze produce. My pantry was simply shelves in the basement. And my CSA in NJ yielded vegetables that lasted all year, although I had to supplement that in Winter.
And you just might find, as I did, that you love to garden and grow your own food. Seed swaps and garden swaps can be great sources for freebies. Check out GardenWeb to get started.
#5 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
SWITCH TO ALMOND MILK.
Unsweetened almond milk is lower in fat and calories than cow’s milk. And it is cholesterol free. Beware of sweetened almond milks, which quickly can rack up empty sugar calories. Since many people become lactose-intolerant after bariatric surgery switching to almond milk can be a necessity. Unfortunately almond milk is heavily-processed with additives. But you can make your own from organic raw almonds following Wellness Mama’s recipe. If purchasing almond milk, my clinical nutritionist says So Delicious is one of the higher quality brands.
Dairy also is infamous for containing chemicals. And I have yet to find a practical solution for buying organic dairy inexpensively. In some states people are able to buy a share of a dairy cow’s yield in much the same way as the CSA. And in some states raw dairy can be purchased from farms or health food stores. Raw cheese can be found at better grocers but the selection is small. In any event, I have found all of these options to be expensive. So if you have a solution, other than having your own dairy cow or goat, then please shoot me an email and I will gladly update this article.
#6 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
PLAN AND EAT THE AMOUNT OF CALORIES, FAT, CARBS, AND PROTEIN THAT ARE RIGHT FOR YOU.
Both Fitday.com and MyFitnessPal are good resources for bariatric meal planning. These free online tools allow you to select foods from a large database and track the calories, fat, carbs, and protein grams you will consume at each meal. You can customize foods, too. As a bonus, you can track calories burned from exercise and daily activity!
Be attentive to portion sizes when selecting foods. If you are dining out, choose a high protein appetizer such as shrimp cocktail, go easy on the cocktail sauce as it is high in sugar, and have a side salad with a healthy extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and fresh lemon or apple cider vinegar dressing as your main course. I am against ordering off the children’s menu as these choices are high in carbs, calories and saturated fat. Eat and cook at home most often where you are in control of the menu and ingredients. You can get lots of healthy recipes on my Pinterest recipe boards. Or search Amazon’s collection of bariatric cookbooks.
#7 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
AVOID FOODS THAT HAVE HIGH AMOUNTS OF SOLID FATS, ADDED SUGARS, SALT, AND WORDS YOU CAN’T PRONOUNCE.
Learn to read labels and go for minimally processed foods. Better yet, buy foods without labels — that means fresh, whole foods! Keep in mind that real food does not have an ingredients label. Real food is the ingredient!
#8 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
Reduce your calories by drinking only water or non-carbonated low calorie beverages between meals. If you think water is boring, try water flavored with fresh fruit and herbs or mineral water with a splash of juice!
RD Elizabeth from CrackerJack Nutrition says drinking right up until it’s time to eat is perfectly fine. It’s recommended to wait 30 minutes after eating before drinking again. Avoid drinking with your meals. Read Elizabeth’s article Eating and Drinking Dos and Don’ts to learn more.
And one of the best things you can do for yourself is get a water filter that removes heavy metals, drug residues, chlorine, and fluoride. I own a 5-stage reverse osmosis drinking water filter system and you should see how dirty the cartridges are when I change them! Plus, a water filter system is cheaper than buying bottled water in the long run and you won’t have any plastics to recycle. Consider this: You can buy a water filter or you can be a water filter.
#9 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
INVEST IN SEVERAL QUALITY SMALL APPLIANCES AND LEARN NEW, HEALTHY WAYS OF PREPARING FOODS.
Say hello to easy-to-prepare home-cooked meals of whole foods. Investing in a few high-quality small appliances and kitchen tools will pay for themselves with the money you save on processed convenience foods — and you’ll be rewarded with highly nutritious foods and superior taste! Check out a few basics to get you started:
- Coleman grill for amazing grilled meats, fish, and vegetables! Take this portable grill on road trips, too!
- Slow cooker or electric pressure cooker make food very tender and easier to digest.
- Osterizer is the best blender I’ve ever had for frozen protein shakes and smoothies — and it’s far cheaper than a Vitamix!
- Cuisinart food processor for chopping cauliflower into rice to pureeing cashews into nut butter or roasted cauliflower into mashed potatoes, and more.
- Wok pan for quick and healthy stir-fry meals in minutes.
- Vegetable spiralizer to make grain-free noodles from zucchini or sweet potatoes.
- Air-fryer for healthy veggie fries, crunchy veggie chips and more!
#10 of My Bariatric Diet Tips
FOLLOW THE POUCH RULES.
Memorize and live by the pouch rules to achieve maximum weight loss and keep the weight off for life. Even people who have experienced weight regain after bariatric surgery will lose weight by returning to the pouch rules. Another great bariatric diet tips book to read and embrace is, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients. Read my interview with the book’s author Colleen Cook Bariatric-Patient Bariatric-Guru.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life