Following a bariatric diet is a major life change for most weight loss surgery patients. However, adherence is possible — with the right strategies in place, that is. A vital part of the process? Meal planning. Read on for eight tips aimed at helping bariatric patients reach their weight loss and weight management goals through proactive meal planning.
When was the last time you binged on something really unhealthy? For most people, this happens when hunger strikes but there are no healthy options immediately available. By stocking up on nutrient-dense foods, weight loss patients ensure that they always have compliant options on hand — the best way to prevent bad choices.
Any obstacle is surmountable if you plan for it. Conversely, on-the-fly decisions — especially when it comes to eating — are often bad ones. For example, if you’re going to be out and about for the day, packing adequate, appealing options can help you avoid falling prey to junk food, drive-through windows, and other diet-derailing detours. If you’re going to a restaurant, meanwhile, visiting the menu online ahead of time is an effective way to determine the healthiest options.
Many people who work and/or have kids find that there simply aren’t enough hours in the typical weekday to get everything they need to get done. Instead of waiting until a busy weekday and ending up in a bind, use your weekends (or days off) to grocery shop and coordinate bariatric meal plans in advance.
Of course, you can’t always plan ahead. Having a backup plan at the ready is also important. In addition to stocking up at home, also stock up in your car. Tucking away non-perishable items, like Achieve from Rational Foods, in your car glove box or desk drawer is a simple way to eat healthy — even when you’re on the go. One word of caution? Reserve these items for when you truly need them as grazing between meals can add to you calorie count and impede weight loss.
Science consistently tells us that keeping a food journal is beneficial to weight loss success. In fact, according to a Kaiser Permanente study, people who maintain daily food records may lose twice as much weight as their non-journaling counterparts.
Concluded lead author Jack Hollis, Ph.D. “It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories.” Organizing and writing down your menu ahead of time, meanwhile, can help you stick to it.
Portion control is one of the most critical imperatives for weight loss patients. Recommends the Obesity Action Coalition: “Use measuring tools and a food scale to check your portion sizes. Serving meals on smaller plates, such as salad or luncheon plates, will help make these small portions look more appealing.” If time is an issue, prepare regular-sized recipes, divide them into appropriate portions, and store them for later.
Protein is the star of any bariatric diet. In addition to choosing protein-rich foods, commit to eating proteins first to make sure you get them in. Not all proteins are created equal, however. Red meats, in particular, can be challenging to bariatric patient digestion. At the same time, a growing body of evidence points to the weight loss advantages of plant-based eating. This is another reason why Achieve is a great go-to meal and snack for bariatric patients. Not only is Achieve portable, delicious, and packed with protein, it’s also loaded with fruits and vegetables.
Cooking “regular” meals for your family members and bariatric meals for yourself means doing twice the work while increasing your exposure to temptation. However, by cooking healthy, bariatric-friendly meals for your whole family, you’re not only increasing your chances of success, but also helping the people you love adopt healthier eating habits, as well.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Bariatric surgery isn’t a a weight loss “cure.” Rather, it’s a tool. These eight tips can help weight loss patients use that tool in the best possible way in order to support optimal and lasting outcomes through bariatric meal plans following bariatric surgery.