Eating a Balanced Diet after Bariatric Surgery – Choose More Plant-Based Foods
Are you so focused on getting in enough protein after weight-loss surgery that your diet is lacking in essential nutrients? It might be a good time to start adding in other foods – specifically plant-based foods.
Switching to a more plant-based diet does not mean becoming a vegan or a vegetarian. A more plant-based diet would mean eating less animal products, such as meat and dairy, and consuming more vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and fruit.
Plant-based eating and your weight
A weight-loss plateau is a common complaint among patients following surgery. Patients will steadily lose weight each month and then……nothing. In my experience counseling patients I have found that adding some whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (plant foods) back into the diet has actually helped people get past a weight-loss plateau. In other words – eating a more balanced diet might trigger your body to start shedding pounds again.
Research shows that consuming a more plant-based diet reduced body fat in overweight and obese individuals. The exact reason for this is unknown; however, we do know that plant-based foods are high in fiber which results in feelings of fullness.
Sometimes including whole grains, vegetables, and some fruit in the diet can be a challenge for patients after bariatric surgery because they are so focused on just getting enough protein every day. If this is the case for you or you’re not sure if you’re getting the nutrition your body needs, this might be a great time to schedule a follow-up appointment with your dietitian. We can take a closer look at your daily meal plan and suggest which foods to incorporate back into your diet.
Health benefits of plan-based eating
Let’s face it – losing weight is great, but that is not the only reason many patients choose to get weight-loss surgery. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, research over the years has linked a plant-based diet to a lower risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes, certain cancers, as well as cognitive decline. Read on for ideas on how to add more plants to your diet:
Add another food group to each meal or snack
A common breakfast meal I often hear is two boiled eggs. Instead of two eggs, try one egg and a couple slices of fruit or some oatmeal (no sugar added) with cinnamon and walnuts.
Instead of just eating 3 ounces of grilled chicken for lunch try 1.5 ounces of grilled chicken and some asparagus tips.
Each meal should consist of at least two food groups (think of the old food pyramid) to ensure a balanced diet.
Try different snacks
Instead of a cheese stick try eating low fat cottage cheese and peach slices. Instead of a protein bar try hummus with cucumbers or carrots.
Don’t neglect whole grains
There is a lot of focus on avoiding pasta and bread in order to lose weight after surgery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat any carbohydrates. The idea is to eat whole grains such as quinoa, barley, wheat berry, or farro. These delicious grains will add fiber and nutrient variety to your diet and incorporating them into your diet should ensure that you keep the weight off in the long-term. Check out this Smoked turkey and Farro Salad recipe from Eating Well.
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