Bariatric meal planning is all about getting the most bang for your buck: Which foods contain the greatest nutritional value for the amount eaten? While this is a healthy strategy for all eaters, it’s particularly important for weight loss surgery patients, for whom small portions are essential.
Enter the plant-based diet. Not only are fruits and vegetables delicious, but they’re also loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients which optimally support weight loss and weight management as well as overall health. Here’s a closer look at why bariatric patients and plant-based eating are a perfect fit.
While the term “superfood” can be applied to foods across all of the food groups, fruits and vegetables reign supreme among superfoods. Why? Because they’re loaded with free radical-fighting antioxidants, which help keep the body strong and healthy. In fact, according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, there is a link between high intake of fruits and vegetables and a reduced overall cancer risk.
But antioxidants aren’t the only reason to eat more fruits and vegetables. Says the Mayo Clinic’s Robert Sheeler, M.D., “Typically low in energy density and high in water and fiber content, fruits and vegetables can improve your diet by replacing higher calorie foods. They also contain many disease-fighting nutrients. In addition, they're colorful, rich in texture and delicious.”
While keeping diseases at bay while enjoying better overall health is reason alone for bariatric patients to embrace plant-based eating, there’s also compelling evidence that directly associates plant-based eating habits with increased weight loss.
The takeaway? These advantages don’t just make fruits and vegetables a healthy choice, they also make them especially beneficial to bariatric surgery patients.
All of this may leave you wondering about the issue of carbs. After all, in addition to being high in bariatric diet-friendly nutrients, most fruits and many vegetables are also high in something else: Carbs.
At the same time, fruits and vegetables aren’t exactly the first foods that come to mind when you think of protein, AKA the single most important part of any bariatric diet. This may leave weight loss patients feeling confused about how to include more fruits and vegetables as part of a successful bariatric meal plan.
However, there is a simple “best of both worlds” solution, which allows weight loss patients to load up on fruits and vegetables and fulfill protein intake requirements without overdoing it on carbs.
Rational Foods recently debuted Achieve, a line of low-calorie, nutritious, flavorful products explicitly designed with the dietary needs of bariatric patients in mind. Made with organic fruits and vegetables like apples, butternut squash, carrots, and strawberries, Achieve’s portable pouches are both nutrient-dense and protein-packed. Plus, each Achieve pouch has just eight carbs.
The result? Superior nutrition in a convenient and satisfying “real food” alternative to all things food-like and taste-free. If Achieve pouches sound too good to be true, they work for a simple reason. Unlike many bariatric food products, they’re both chef- AND doctor-driven -- meaning they taste as delicious as they are nutritious so weight loss patients will actually want to eat them.
As most dietitians know, helping patients adhere to the restrictions associated with post-bariatric surgery is imperative. However, it can also be a challenge -- particularly when options are limited and unappealing. At the same time, encouraging weight loss patients to eat more fruits and vegetables helps promote better total health, but can be tricky territory when you factor in protein and carbs.
By introducing patients to Achieve, dietitians can help them reap the many extraordinary benefits of plant-based eating while remaining compliant with post-bariatric surgery dietary guidelines.