A lot of bariatric patients- especially 3+ months out from surgery- will ask me for any tips or tricks on how to meal prep after bariatric surgery. They often ask me things like; “How do I eat healthy?”, “What does that look like in real life when I’m busy?”, “How do I do that consistently?” Listen- I know you’re busy, need something grab-and-go, and are short on time. In this blog post, I’ll break down a few super simple ways to meal prep after bariatric surgery by giving you some easy, quick, and effortless “recipe” ideas. Read on.
You Don’t Need A Recipe
When I told one of my patients- who was stressed and overwhelmed with how to meal prep after surgery- I straight up said to her; “Keep it simple. You don’t even need a recipe!” She just kind of looked at me, like; “What do you mean, you don’t have to have a recipe?”
Complicated recipes with lots of steps, ingredients, pots and pans, and cooking times can be stressful! It can feel overwhelming at the end of a long day when you just want something quick, or you need to grab something healthy before darting out the door. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are a few, uncomplicated, bariatric-friendly protein snacks that I routinely prep myself for work each week:
- Turkey slices. Want to get fancy? Add a low-fat cheese stick and/or guacamole (if you can tolerate fat), onion, hard boiled eggs, carrots… etc. The world is your oyster!
- Hard boiled eggs. You can eat the whole egg (no- the yolk will not impact your cholesterol levels), or just the egg whites if you otherwise get too full, too fast.
- Cottage cheese. Add some mashed up berries and mix well to incorporate natural fruit juice
- Greek yogurt. Avoid adding granola on top. Granola is pretty much all sugar and carbohydrates.
Winging It Won’t Work
“I’ll just figure it out when I get there (or when I’m hungry)” is a recipe for derailing your progress. You need to have a plan. Again- it doesn’t have to be a complicated plan. But you need to have ONE. Just one.
Make sure you have an appropriate sized lunch bag or cooler with you in order to keep refrigerated items you have on hand, chilled. If you drive for work- bring a cooler with you and fill it with healthy options. Or, if you’re shuttling kids all over the place, bring a cooler with you in the car.
If you have family extracurricular activities and sporting events to attend in the evenings and know that the smell from the concession stands of popcorn and hot dogs will be calling your name, you need to have a plan.
Again, you don’t have to make things crazy and stressful on yourself. Life is not that serious. But you DO need to be prepared and you have to think about what you’re going to bring with you that is protein forward and an easy grab-and-go option.
Stores carry pre-made protein packs or “P3” packs which are handy, high in protein, and low in carbohydrates. Each pack typically contains a meat (ie: chunks of turkey / ham / pepperoni), cheese, and nuts. You can either buy them pre-made the next time you’re at the grocery store, or recreate them yourself at home.
When it comes to nuts, be sure to purchase plain nuts and to avoid glazed or oily nuts that are processed with cheap vegetable oils (ie: hydrogenated oils, canola/vegetable oil, etc). Almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios are great options.
Make Sandwiches Or Wraps Without The Breading
Whenever you are grabbing wraps or sandwiches, the easiest thing to do to make it healthier is to just swap out the bread for a lettuce wrap. If you’re not quite there yet, take off the top of the bread and make an open-faced sandwich.
When it comes to breading or tortillas, remember- they are just the carrier. What you really want is the good stuff inside.
Consider converting your sandwich or wrap into a bowl instead. I love doing this with cauliflower rice as my base and all of my “sandwich innards” as the toppings. The best part is- cauliflower is a great non-starchy vegetable that is also high in fiber. It can help you stay full for longer and is a great substitute for rice! It may give you gas, however. But that’s a talk for another day!
Learning how to meal prep after bariatric surgery does not have to be hard, intimidating, or overwhelming. Simply grabbing healthy nutrient dense kinds of protein is meal prepping (made easy)! Be sure to plan ahead and pack things with you in a cooler if you’re going to be out and about. The last place you want to be is shopping at the grocery store in a ravenous state because you hadn’t planned accordingly. I guarantee unhealthy things will end up in your cart (and maybe prematurely in your mouth)! Be prepared, but make meal prepping simple. You’ve got this!
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