Fresh Start Bariatric Cookbook: Healthy Recipes to Enjoy Favorite Foods After Weight-Loss Surgery

CHAPTER 1. Day One and Beyond

The new start on life you’ve been waiting for is finally here. You may have been preparing for this moment for days, weeks, months, or even years. After surgery, you’ll wake up in the same body but excited for the rapid changes that will occur starting nearly immediately. In some ways, it’s like Christmas morning: You can’t wait to unwrap the gift of weight loss and improved health. In other ways, you’re scared: Will you be a success story? This book is designed to help alleviate your fears and answer your questions. It is a guide for eating post-operatively, with plenty of tools to keep you on track, even after any slips along the way. With this information, you will be able to build new habits and grow in confidence. And confidence breeds success.

The Right Decision

Most patients agree that deciding to have bariatric surgery was one of the biggest decisions of their lives. Most patients also agree that, whether solicited or not, opinions about their decision are offered by many people in their lives. Rest assured that no matter what anyone else has said to you, you can wipe away self-doubt. You’ve made a decision for your health and your life; this is not elective or optional—it is necessary for you.

This decision is supported by a team of highly qualified medical professionals who advise patients using evidence-based research. That means the medical recommendations are based on precedent and scientific outcomes that indicate that the benefits of pursuing a particular path far outweigh the potential risks. So keep pushing forward, and those benefits will appear one by one, and sometimes many all at once. Never doubt that you made the right decision.

Is Enjoying Food Really Possible?

During the first few days post-op, when what you’re feasting on is mostly liquid, it’s hard to imagine you’ll ever find delight in eating food again. Initially, eating may become a chore, something done out of necessity. It’s easy for thoughts of the flavors and enjoyment of food to go out the window as you repeatedly think “Gotta get my protein in, need to drink more water . . .” Questions may start to flutter in your head: Will I look forward to eating again? Will I ever be able to eat the foods I used to love?

Keep in mind that right after surgery, your body rapidly undergoes a myriad of physical and hormonal changes—all of which suppress your urge to eat and the amount you are able to eat. Most of your initial rapid weight loss is a product of the combination of these changes. Be patient. As time progresses you will be able to eat a slightly larger volume of food, tolerate a greater variety of food, and have an interest in eating more food.

The good news is that after the first few months, you’ll have set a foundation of eating and exercise habits that will sustain your weight loss as time progresses. I know this may sound crazy, but some people who really craved burgers and fries before surgery find that the desire for those types of foods goes away for good. As you transition to eating a diet full of nutritious foods and leave behind high-fat, high-sugar, high-sodium foods, you’ll find that your body begins to crave the healthier foods more. And that’s the perfect time to try some of your old favorite recipes—with a healthier twist. If you love to cook, it’s an opportunity to experiment with spices and seasonings to ensure variety with your protein choices and introduce your family to this new lifestyle.

If you have never spent much time in the kitchen, there are plenty of quick, inexpensive ways to eat nutritiously without a lot of time and fuss. Food is nourishment for your body; it’s a necessity to eat every single day. But mealtime is so much more than just what we put in our bodies. It’s sitting together for a family dinner, having a candlelit meal to celebrate an anniversary, meeting new people at a church picnic, or reminiscing about what Grandma used to make. The environment in which you choose to eat is just as important as the food in making eating enjoyable. With a little bit of time, some patience, and a willingness to experiment, you can make enjoying nutritious foods truly possible after surgery.

A Cookbook for All Weight-Loss Surgeries

This cookbook is for you. Each recipe has been carefully crafted to meet the needs of patients who have had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band placement, or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS). The diet recommendations in no way replace the recommendations from your medical team but rather serve as a reference summarized from guidelines based on research from the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Each surgery truly is different, and moreover, each person is unique in his or her eating experiences after surgery. There is no one-size-fits-all meal plan.

Use this book as a general guide for how to approach eating, food choice and amounts, and cooking post-operatively with a goal of meeting your weight-loss and nutrition goals—and still enjoying tasty meals. The diet recommendations for each surgery post-op are nearly identical, with a few exceptions you will see frequently noted through this chapter. Note as well the tips at the end of each recipe, which will give more specific guidelines about the timing for when to incorporate each unique recipe into your lifestyle. Take this book with you when you consult with your medical team to serve as a resource for planning meals or anticipating changes in texture in your diet.

TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL

“Wow, you look great! What have you been doing to lose all that weight? I have to try it. Tell me all the details!”

You certainly can’t keep it a secret that you’ve lost half of your body weight in less than a year. But do you reveal the intimate details of exactly how this dramatic change came about? What you decide is a personal choice, without a wrong or right answer. It comes down to whatever is most comfortable for you.

Inevitably, you will share the news with some people, whom I put into three groups: supporters, critics, and relaters.

Supporters: You need love, support, encouragement, cheerleading, and coaching. Surgery is not like any diet you’ve done in the past. If you don’t tell anyone what you’re going through, it can be more difficult for people to support you through this process. When others have an understanding of the challenges you face, they can learn how you prefer to receive support and encouragement. When your colleagues know you can’t have ice cream because you literally can’t have it, they might be more likely to offer healthier options at the next work picnic. When your great aunt knows you can’t eat more than a cup of food, she might be less likely to push the second serving of mashed potatoes during Thanksgiving dinner.

Critics: These are the people who suddenly seem to think they’re weight-loss experts and are extremely opinionated about surgery. Their critical response is likely due to lack of knowledge or education about bariatric surgery, their own personal struggle with weight, jealousy, or sheer ignorance. You need to accept that their reaction does not take away from your ability to achieve success after surgery, nor does it validate their response. Again, confidence is key. Your self-worth is not determined by other people’s opinions of bariatric surgery.

Relaters: Bariatric surgery is the most successful long-term treatment for obesity— hands down. Unfortunately, many physicians fail to recommend this as an option for appropriate patients, and it’s still often falsely viewed as a taboo treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two-thirds of people in the United States are obese or overweight. As someone who’s had weight-loss surgery, you can be an inspiration to others and motivate them to take their health back into their own hands. While they won’t all have bariatric surgery, they may follow your lead on making healthier lifestyle changes. And you may gain a workout buddy, a farmers’ market friend, or a willing ear to talk with along the way.

Bariatric Nutritional Know-How

By the time most people undergo bariatric surgery, they are quite familiar with common weight-loss diets. The thought of memorizing the ins and outs of yet another eating plan is more than cringeworthy for many people. Fortunately, what you’ve already learned about following diets in the past will serve as a foundation for learning how to eat after bariatric surgery. You don’t need to be a nutrition expert to understand and follow a bariatric eating plan. Let’s review the principles for eating after surgery, which are represented throughout the recipes in this cookbook.

Liquids

Staying hydrated after surgery is the first and most important rule. Drinking enough liquids will not only increase your energy, but it will also help significantly with your weight loss. Additionally, dehydration is the most common complication of surgery, and one that can easily be prevented. It can be challenging at first, partly because there is no drinking with meals or 30 minutes before or after eating. Be proactive and always carry a beverage with you. Focus on drinking throughout the day and evening to prevent trying to catch up later—your small pouch will prohibit you from chugging large amounts of fluid at one time.

imageWhat to Drink: water, milk, soy milk, protein shakes, decaffeinated tea or coffee (without added cream or sugar), and any other noncarbonated and sugar-free beverages (sweetened with sugar substitutes is okay)

imageAmount per Day: 64 to 100 ounces—progressing in volume throughout your post-op diet stages

imageWhat to Limit or Avoid: juices, caffeinated beverages (including soda, coffee, tea, and energy drinks), carbonated waters, alcohol, lemonade, sweetened tea, sugary sports drinks, and any sugar-sweetened beverages

Protein

It’s all about protein, the most important macronutrient to take in post-operatively. Protein is the building block of muscle and tissue. It’s crucial to eat adequate protein while following a very low-calorie diet. When you eat enough protein, you will feel energized, lose more fat while preserving muscle, and experience longer post-meal satisfaction. Protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrates and contains fewer calories than fats. Initially post-op, you will take in only water and protein-rich foods. As you progress, you will slowly add more mixed meals into your diet. This cookbook is essential to give you a variety of ideas for eating adequate protein for the long haul so meals don’t become boring. Eating protein at every meal for a lifetime is essential to not only lose weight and heal initially but to maintain weight loss for the long term.

imageWhat to Eat: eggs, poultry (chicken and turkey without skin, lean nitrate-free chicken or turkey sausage, ground chicken, and turkey breast), all fish and seafood, low-fat dairy products (low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 percent or nonfat cottage cheese, and 1 percent or nonfat milk and cheese), lean beef (if tolerated, beginning 3 months post-op; sirloin, loin, round roast or steak, and lean or supreme lean ground beef), lean pork (if tolerated, beginning 3 months post-op; tender-loin, top loin chop, and ham with visible fat removed), and vegetarian protein sources (beans, nuts, lentils, and seeds)

imageAmount per Day: 60 to 100 grams (Note: Specific recommendations are based on ideal body weight and the post-operative diet stage.)

imageWhat to Limit or Avoid: high-fat dairy products (cream and whole milk), high-fat cuts of beef or pork (pork sausage, bacon, bologna, salami, pork ribs, and ground beef), and skin-on poultry

PROTEIN SOURCE

PORTION SIZE

PROTEIN (GRAMS)*

Poultry, beef, pork, fish

2 ounces

14 grams (7 grams per ounce)

Shrimp, scallops

3 ounces (about 15 large)

18 grams

Lunch meat (turkey, chicken, ham, or roast beef)

2 ounces (4 to 6 thin slices)

10 grams

Egg

1 large

6 to 7 grams

Egg whites

2 large

8 grams

Cottage or ricotta cheese (1% to 2% fat)

½ cup

14 grams

Natural cheese (Cheddar, Colby, mozzarella, Swiss, etc.)

1 ounce or 1 slice

7 grams

Greek yogurt

6 ounces (¾ cup)

10 to 15 grams

Yogurt

6 ounces (¾ cup)

5 grams

Lentils

½ cup cooked

9 grams

Beans

½ cup cooked

5 to 9 grams

*Individual protein content may vary; always check the nutrition facts label.

DRINKING YOUR PROTEIN

There’s no escaping a protein drink during the first few days and weeks after surgery. Getting enough protein is a full-time job, and without allowing some liquid sources, it may be nearly impossible. On the other hand, we want to set a solid eating plan for the long term since you aren’t going to drink protein shakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the rest of your life. I favor a plan where the pureed diet is introduced early after surgery to include whole foods. In between meals, milk is an acceptable alternative to commercial protein shakes (see High-Protein Milk, here). Carefully focus on eating only high-quality protein foods in the first few weeks post-op since it’s difficult to get in large volumes of food. Don’t forget, you actually burn more calories digesting whole foods than liquids. So reconsider trying pureed turkey chili! Here are some recommendations for bariatric-friendly protein powders:

imageChoose whey protein isolate. It’s easiest for your body to absorb and is the most dense in essential amino acids. Try the brands biPro or UNJURY.

imageOther high-quality sources: Two of these are soy protein isolate (vegan) and egg white powder.

imageTry an unflavored version. These are low in calories and clean, being free from artificial ingredients.

imageTips for flavored versions: Choose varieties that are completely sugar-free and sweetened with stevia, sucralose (Splenda), or other sugar substitutes. There are hundreds of options, from vanilla to butter pecan, which will leave you satisfied for very few calories. Sugar substitutes are FDA approved, calorie-free, safe to have after surgery, and not linked to dumping syndrome. Be cautious with sugar alcohols (erythritol, mannitol, xylitol, and sorbitol), as they contribute some calories and can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

Carbohydrates

A quick source of energy for your body, including your brain, carbohydrates are important for many metabolic functions. During the initial post-operative diet, you will take in little to no carbs. Your body will function normally by obtaining energy from metabolizing fat stores and using protein from the foods you are eating. Carbohydrates can be found in two varieties: simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly, and easily turn into sugar in our blood, giving us a quick energy rush and a subsequent crash. Simple carbs include foods made with white refined flour, candies, sodas, juice drinks, and many processed foods. Complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly and are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They include 100 percent whole-grain foods, fruits, and vegetables. Focus on limiting simple carbs and eating more complex carbs.

imageWhat to Eat: fresh fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes or white potatoes with skin, oatmeal, 100 percent whole-grain products (toasted are better tolerated than doughy fresh), brown or wild rice or 100 percent whole-wheat pasta (if tolerated), barley and ancient grains (quinoa, spelt, farrow, and millet)

imageAmount per Day: very small amounts initially; after the first year and long term, aim for no more than 35 to 45 percent of total calories from carbohydrates

imageWhat to Limit or Avoid: any white refined grain products (white bread, white pasta, and crackers), cookies, candies, cakes, pastries, juices (including fruit juice), sodas, and chips

A NOTE ABOUT SUGAR

Simple sugars are not tolerated after surgery. Dumping syndrome is a condition that can occur after eating foods high in sugar and, in some cases, eating too many carbohydrates at one time. Symptoms occur shortly after consuming the food in question and include some combination of feeling shaky, lightheaded, sweaty, or dizzy (with a possibility of fainting), increased heart rate, drop in blood sugar (reactive hypoglycemia), abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. People who have had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or BPD/DS are most at risk for experiencing dumping syndrome. Those who have had the sleeve gastrectomy also may experience this side effect as well. Avoid this uncomfortable condition by completely avoiding foods high in sugar. A general recommendation is to avoid processed foods with more than 10 to 15 grams of sugar per serving. Remember, you are encouraged to eat whole fruits and dairy products, both of which contain some natural sugars.

Fats

Dietary fats are important to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K. Additionally, there are some essential fatty acids (omega-3s and omega-6s) our bodies cannot make and must ingest instead. Fats are the most calorie-dense of all macronutrients at 9 calories per gram, so we must always be careful of portion sizes—even in the healthy versions. Be cautious with processed foods labeled as fat-free or low fat, as they often replace fat with more sugar or sodium to improve the flavor of the food. Dairy products, particularly milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese, should be eaten in low-fat or nonfat form to save on calories and artery-clogging saturated fats. Choose these versions when cooking as often as possible. Note that nonfat or 1 percent milk does not contain any fewer vitamins, minerals, or grams of protein compared to whole milk. Choose full-fat foods in the form of vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and fatty fish—all of which are heart healthy.

imageWhat to Eat: avocados, canola oil, chia seeds, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and tuna), seafood, flaxseed, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and all-natural nut butters

imageAmount per Day: very limited amounts initially; long term, no more than 30 percent of total calories from fats (mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and less than 7 percent from saturated fats)

imageWhat to Limit: butter, tropical oils (palm and coconut oil), full-fat dairy, and miscellaneous vegetable oils

imageWhat to Avoid: animal fats (fat on meats, lard), fried foods, stick margarines containing trans fats, and foods high in saturated fats

Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements

Food is the best source of the nutrients your body needs after bariatric surgery, but due to the restricted amount of food you are able to eat and changes in the absorption of certain nutrients, all bariatric surgery patients need to be on vitamin and mineral supplements post-op. Follow the recommendations from your bariatric surgery team for specific details.

imageMultivitamin with minerals, whether in chewable or liquid form, is required for all, regardless of which surgery you have. Make sure the vitamins and minerals come to 100 to 200 percent of daily recommended values.

imageVitamin D is advised for most everyone, since nearly all who qualify for the surgery tend to be deficient in it.

imageCalcium is recommended for almost all patients post-operatively due to the importance of bone health.

imageIron is often recommend especially after the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or BPD/DS, since changes after these surgeries make it difficult for the body to absorb iron.

imageVitamin B12 is advised, especially after the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or BPD/DS and potentially with the sleeve gastrectomy. It is important for proper nerve function and for preventing anemia.

imageCertain fat-soluble vitamins, to be discussed with your team, are recommended after the BPD/DS.

imageB-complex provides additional B-vitamin supplementation and may be recommended after any type of bariatric surgery. It contains high doses of thiamine, which is important for metabolism.

Bottom line: Due to the nature of these surgeries, taking certain vitamin and mineral supplements is a commitment for life. I have seen deficiencies appear several years down the road when people reached their goal weight and stopped taking their supplements. Make sure to follow up regularly with your medical team to have your blood levels of these important nutrients tested.

Equipment

You will find that the majority of the recipes in this book require very little more than a cutting board, sauté pan, and a good knife! Here are a few must-have tools to have in your kitchen to help you prepare some of the recipes in this cookbook. You can easily find most of them at major department stores for a reasonable price.

Immersion or hand blender Use for pureeing soups, chilies, or other dishes while they’re still on the stove.

Mini blender or food processor (dishwasher safe) Puree small portions of foods for yourself or make a single-serving shake.

Mini muffin tin These are great for portion control.

Slow cooker The 5-quart size is sufficient for the recipes in this book, but you may opt for smaller or larger versions.

Spiralizer Use for making zucchini noodles in place of pasta; try the small hand-held versions.

Vegetable peeler Use for removing tough skins of fruits and vegetables that aren’t tolerated in the first few months post-op.

QUIETING SELF-JUDGMENTS

We all know the phrase “You are what you eat,” but try this one: “You are what you believe.” How much do your thoughts, feelings, and judgments impact your behaviors and overall state of well-being? In short, a lot. The practice of mindfulness is growing in popularity because it emphasizes awareness and acceptance of the present moment. By staying in the moment, we can focus on what we are doing, rather than chastise ourselves for past mistakes, regrets, and negative feelings. And when we start to judge ourselves, which is inevitable, a short mindfulness exercise can quickly take us out of it. Here are two mindfulness exercises to help us stay in the moment and recognize and be grateful for the good things we have.

Mindful eating

1.Eat at a table without distractions. That’s right, turn off the TV and put your smartphone or tablet somewhere else. Notice the time that you start eating your meal. Take a bite of food, and chew 20 to 30 times before swallowing.

2.Put down your fork in between bites. Savor the flavor and the consistency: Is it savory, sweet, sour, or salty? Repeat these steps until your plate is half empty. Notice the clock again. Have 10 to 15 minutes gone by? If not, slow down and wait.

3.Engage in conversation or take a few deep breaths. Aim for 30 minutes to eat your entire meal. Clean off the kitchen table and put flowers, decorative placements, and perhaps even candles on it to remind you that mealtime is meant to be both enjoyable and relaxing.

Gratitude

1.Use snail mail more often. Write out a thank-you card and send it to your walking buddy. Dedicate a small amount of time per week to write out recognition for work colleagues.

2.Keep a daily personal journal. Focus on writing down the best part of your day, every day. Expressing gratitude for the people in our lives may help us experience compassion for ourselves. Start focusing on creating positive thoughts, and watch them multiply!

Texture Week by Week

Diet progression should be guided by your individual bariatric team; however, here is a list of general guidelines.

SLEEVE GASTRECTOMY, ROUX-EN-Y GASTRIC BYPASS

BPD/DS also generally follows these same guidelines

Post-operative Timeline

Diet Type

Days 1 to 2

   Clear liquid diet

Weeks 1 to 2

image Full liquid diet

Week 3

image Pureed foods

Weeks 4 to 6

image Soft foods

Week 7 or 8+

image Advance to general foods

LAPAROSCOPIC ADJUSTABLE GASTRIC BAND

Post-operative Timeline

Diet Type

Days 1 to 2

   Clear liquid diet

Weeks 1 to 2

image Full liquid diet

Week 3

image Pureed foods

Week 4

image Soft foods

Week 5 or 6+

image Advance to general foods

Following a fill or adjustment

Full liquid diet for 2 to 3 days.

Advance to pureed foods for 2 to 3 days and then soft foods for 3 to 4 days as tolerated.

Gradually progress to general foods.

The Bariatric Kitchen

Your kitchen is your workshop after surgery. Fortunately, you don’t need a complete kitchen makeover to eat well after surgery. You just need a few important staples and pieces of equipment to prepare fast, delicious meals and ensure that you will have long-term weight-loss success.

Toss It

Stock Up

Vegetable oil

Extra-virgin olive oil

All-purpose flour

Whole-wheat pastry flour

Sour cream

Low-fat plain Greek yogurt, hummus

Processed cheeses and cheese spreads

Natural cheeses (mozzarella, Cheddar, Feta, etc.), cottage cheese

Canned premade soups

Canned or dried beans for making homemade soups, low-sodium broth

Hot dogs, bacon

100% natural nitrate-free chicken or turkey sausage

Instant oatmeal packets

100% old-fashioned rolled oats or steel-cut oats, unsweetened

Fruit snacks

Fresh fruits, 100% natural (unsweetened) applesauce

Salami, bologna, pastrami

Deli-sliced (nitrate-free) turkey, chicken, lean roast beef

Juice

Fresh lemons and limes, sliced, for water, herbal tea

Potato chips and pretzels

Dehydrated vegetables/snap peas (Snapea Crisps or Lentil Snaps), kale chips

Flavored regular yogurt

Plain yogurt, low-sugar Greek yogurt

Canned high-fat meats

Canned chicken breast, packets or cans of tuna or salmon

Pasta

Fresh spaghetti squash and spiralized zucchini instead of pasta

Creamy processed salad dressings

Flavored vinegars and olive oil

Tips for Success

The following recommendations for after surgery are here to help you make sure you not only get down to your goal weight but keep it off. These are tried-and-true tips based on my experience in working with successful post-op bariatric surgery patients who are more than five years out from surgery.

Dedicate yourself to your bariatric clinic for life.

The specialists in the field know what to look for to make sure you maintain your healthy lifestyle and avoid long-term complications. A quick fix found in the bariatric clinic is something that could be easily missed by a primary care physician.

Just walk.

It’s easy to stop exercising when the pounds just fall off during the first few months after surgery. Walking seems so simple—but it’s the most common exercise done regularly by post-op patients for the long term. So lace up your shoes and head out.

Don’t skimp on your protein. Ever.

A few years out from surgery, it might be tempting to go back to cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch with little in between the bread. But when you are tempted to nosh nearly 30 minutes later, you might see the pounds start to pack back on. Focus on making half of your meals protein for the long term and balancing the rest with other foods to keep you interested.

Fluid load.

Filling up on plenty of water before and in between meals is a surefire trick to avoid mindless snacking and overeating at mealtimes. Get yourself a favorite water bottle and make it a priority to get in 100 ounces or more per day long term. After six months post-op, try fluid-loading to help reduce the amount of food you are able to eat at a meal. Continue avoiding fluids during and after the meal, but within 10 minutes of starting a meal, slam a glass of water. It may actually help you feel more full and eat less. Keep in mind that drinking 10 minutes—instead of 30 minutes—before a meal is only advised for when you’re six months post-op.

Find a bariatric surgery support group.

Your journey doesn’t end when you hit your goal weight; get yourself connected with a support group to establish a network of people for lifelong support. You may need a listening ear or you may be an inspiration to others.

FOODS TO AVOID AFTER SURGERY

The long-term post-op goal is to live a normal life, eating most foods in moderation. A big fear for patients is getting sick (dumping syndrome, abdominal discomfort, or vomiting) after surgery. During the first three months after surgery, some foods should be avoided completely to prevent these scenarios from occurring, but many foods can be slowly added back over time as your body adjusts to its “new” stomach.

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band

Liquids Carbonated beverages, alcohol, caffeinated beverages

Proteins Dry, tough meat, poultry, or fish

Carbohydrates Rice, pasta, doughy bread products (untoasted breads); dried fruits, skin-on fruit, fresh pine apple; popcorn; dry fibrous cereals such as granola and bran cereal

Fats Raw nuts and seeds, fried foods, greasy foods (skin-on poultry, fat on meat), peanut butter and nut butters (sticky)

Other Foods Coconut, asparagus stalks, rubbery microwaved or reheated foods (due to texture)

Sleeve Gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, and BPD/DS

Liquids Carbonated beverages, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, fruit juices, any sugary beverages

Proteins Dry, tough meat, poultry, or fish

Carbohydrates Rice, pasta, doughy bread products (untoasted breads); dried fruits, skin-on fruit, fresh pineapple; popcorn; dry fibrous cereals such as granola and bran cereal

Fats Raw nuts and seeds, fried foods, greasy foods (skin-on poultry, fat on meat), peanut butter and nut butters (sticky)

Other Foods Asparagus stalks, raw celery, coconut, sugar-sweetened sauces and condiments, cookies, candy

This Book’s Recipes

The recipes in this book are a mix of simple, familiar meals with a healthy twist and a few foodie favorites. Home at 5 p.m. and need dinner by 6 p.m.? No problem! Most of these meals can be made in 30 minutes, and many are slow cooker meals that are table ready when you walk in the door. Notice the servings yield for each recipe—many produce big portions intentionally, so you can serve your family and have leftovers for meals later in the week. Nutrition facts are listed for each recipe, including grams of protein, carbohydrates, and sugars. Be aware that while the nutrition facts are listed per serving size, your individual portion size may vary, so you may need to adjust accordingly. I’ve also included recommended servings based on which dietary stage you’re in post-op. Look for these icons in the recipes:

image full liquid stage

image puree stage

image soft foods stage

image general diet stage

Focus, too, on the recipe tips, which give ideas about how to enjoy each recipe throughout the stages of your diet post-op.

You will also see some recipes for snacks and desserts. Mindless snacking results in unnecessary calories and should be avoided. Focus instead on eating three meals a day and drinking liquids in between meals (including milk or protein shakes). Cautiously eat snacks in between meals, and monitor portions closely. As for desserts, these recipes give you an idea of what to bring to the family picnic or share at a birthday party so that you can enjoy the festivities without getting sick from typical high-sugar, high-fat desserts. These should be enjoyed on special occasions and not as part of your daily diet. Although these recipes are all appropriate for after surgery, you still need to be cautious of extra calories that can add up quickly.

A few basic reminders:

imageEat slowly—aim to take 30 minutes to eat a meal.

imageAvoid drinking with meals or for 30 minutes before or after a meal.

imageTake your essential vitamin and mineral supplements.

imageAvoid grazing or mindless snacking.

imageBe active every day.

imageAlways eat protein-rich foods first.

Eating Well for Life

You have all the ingredients to achieve your successful weight-loss recipe. The one last concern on your mind may be your lifelong relationship with food—and in many cases it’s a struggle. But you can rebuild that relationship; you can retrain your brain to avoid falling into old habits. Start by setting small, achievable goals— weekly, if possible. Congratulate yourself on your progress, but don’t criticize yourself if you don’t achieve a goal. Just keep setting new ones. Bariatric surgery truly is a lifelong journey. Do your best to honor your promises to eat healthfully and stay active, and you will be able to maintain your healthier lifestyle for decades to come.

image

Mint Dream Protein Shake