Moving on to 'Real Food'

Making the sticky, iffy, often traumatic transition from early post op stages to “Real Food”. 

BUT, they ‘SAID’ I could eat CHICKEN! GAK
Once released by your surgical team and nutritionist to go on your merry way and eat ‘real’ or ‘normal’ foods, make sure you proceed with caution or what you eat might come right back up in triple volume. If you’ve experienced this, you know what I mean! Just because someone ‘says’ you can eat chicken, it doesn’t mean you can actually do it. Your sleeve or pouch may not have received that memo! Many of us live in the soft food zone forever – I am not talking about purees or baby food, but more softly textured foods. There is a big difference between the chew of a bite of a Crab Cake and that of a Pork Chop… think about it! Foods need to be moist in order for us to comfortably eat them. Dry or dense foods do not work for a Lap Band, RNY, or Gastric Sleeve post op; not just for a few weeks or months but for many of us… always.

Insides of a Hot Pocket, NOT a soft food
It is a difficult task to come up with foods to eat when just a few weeks out from surgery, but we must THINK differently. Picking through our favorite pre op garbage fast foods or convenience foods is not an option. I know people who used to eat Hot Pockets for lunch and frozen pizza for supper. You cannot salvage these meals to work for you after bariatric surgery. Leave McDonald’s in your past and stay out of Wendy’s while you are at it. Trying to eat ‘just the egg’ from a McMuffin is not a good plan. We avoid threatening situations in life, but run right back to foods that were terrible for our health. Don’t go where there is danger.

Twinkies last forever!
We need to move away from processed foods. What is Processed? If a food has been changed from it’s original natural state and boxed or packaged for convenience and so it does not go bad, it has been processed. Leave it on the supermarket shelf. Unwrapped Taco Bell, McDonalds fish filet ‘no bread’, the insides of a Hot Pocket, canned chicken, canned ravioli, KFC mashed potatoes & gravy, Cheerios & milk, Peaches & Cream Oatmeal and most frozen dinners are not good choices for a bariatric post op. These are the foods that made us fat… why would we continue to use them? Not cool.

Keep it Saucy & Soft
Welcome to the real world of life after bariatric surgery. Protein foods such as chicken or fish need to wet down with salsas, low or no sugar sauces, gravy, broth, salad dressing, or yogurt based dips so that they chew up into a moist mouthful. Practice mindful eating in regards to choices and textures. You want the protein to have firmness but in a moist way! Simmer boneless chicken thighs in a crock pot instead of baking chicken breasts in the oven for a meal that works. I still slop salsa, guacamole and spaghetti sauce over everything! I need the wet texture when chewed so the food does not sit in my pouch like a rock for an hour and then come back up.

Cook healthy for EVERYONE!
Cooking separate meals can emotionally separate you from your family. Everyone eats the same food for supper in my home, so these meals are also what I serve to my husband or anyone else at the table. We are often responsible for the care and feeding of the household and they probably benefit from the positive change as well. Fat people often have fat children. Change the health vibe of your entire household. Its a great thing to share and you don’t have to tell them something is healthy or sugar free, just make the change!

Rule #1 Protein First
Always eat your moist protein first, followed by a couple of bites of the accompanying vegetables. Three bites protein for every one bite of vegetables is a good start – later on it will become a more balanced one for one bite. Filling up on your solid protein gives you the willpower to not dip the fork into the potato salad or eat the fries they put on your plate anyhow and make better choices.

Rule #2, See Rule #1
When you have a feeling of satisfaction and do not care about eating another bite of food, stop. Do not eat past a point of satisfaction or fullness. As time progresses you will learn to recognize this point. Protein first will take you through life!

Here are some Menu Ideas for early post ops who have been given the okay to eat soft foods.

– 1 scrambled egg with Parmesan
– 1 scrambled egg with salsa
– Inspire Cinnamon or Lemon Breakfast Protein Square
– 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons diced canned Splenda peaches and cinnamon
– 1/2 cup ricotta cheese with 3 diced strawberries and sprinkle of Truvia or Splenda
– Believe Chai Tea, Mocha Latte, or Italian Cappuccino bottled protein drink
– 1 Morningstar Farms veggie breakfast patty with an over easy poached egg
– 1/2 cup ricotta cheese with sf preserves and heaping spoonful of Inspire Banana protein powder
– 1/2 cup Greek yogurt blended with 1/2 scoop Inspire Strawberry White Chocolate protein powder
– Baked Vanilla Egg Custard
– Protein Latte made by dissolving a full scoop of Inspire Caramel Latte protein powder in a large mug with 2 tablespoons Coffee mate Sugar Free Liquid Creamer and slowly filled to the top with hot coffee
– Inspire Banana protein powder made with skim milk, unsweetened almond milk, or water

– Mashed pinto beans with chicken broth topped with shredded cheddar – add PURE Unflavored protein powder
– Black bean soup – add a swirl of Greek yogurt blended with PURE Unflavored protein powder
– Chopped Boars Head turkey breast, shredded Swiss, warmed in microwave
– 1/2 cup Fage Greek yogurt blended with a half scoop of Inspire Peanut Butter Cookie Protein Powder
– Salad made with last night’s leftover salmon fork mashed and blended with a little curry powder, Greek yogurt, salt & pepper. Loosen texture a little chicken broth or water
– 1/2 cup egg salad – 3 eggs chopped and blended with 1 teaspoon Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

These are simple meals that incorporate cooking styles that are easy for a post op to eat. Plus your family will love them!

Right now look down at your open hand. A four ounce portion of protein is about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand – minus the fingers. Eat half your protein, then a few bites of softly cooked vegetables and one for one bites of protein to vegetable to finish. This technique can take you though LIFE – protein first, protein first, protein first! Then the vegetables. Can’t go wrong with that plan!

– Broil salmon and grape tomatoes on sheet pan; further moisten with a little ranch dressing
– Store bought rotisserie chicken with a dipping sauce of equal parts salsa and Greek yogurt
– Chopped cooked shrimp, baby spinach, sliced hard cooked egg and diced tomato tossed with olive oil and red wine vinegar
– Susan Maria’s Chili with a big dollop of Greek yogurt and Cabot shredded low fat cheddar
– Celentano frozen meatballs simmered in Mario Batali or Barilla Pasta Sauce and fork mashed with 1/4 cup ricotta
– Celentano frozen meatballs simmered in a jar of salsa and fork mashed with shredded Jack cheese
– Ground turkey sautéed with diced yellow squash and mixed with enough salsa to make it soupy
– Ground turkey sautéed with diced zucchini and mixed with enough pasta sauce to make it soupy
– Peeled raw shrimp pan sauteed in olive oil, garlic, juice of a lemon, salt and pepper. Add a big handful of baby spinach to the hot pan and cook until wilted and softened.

The whole point of bariatric surgery is CHANGE. If we keep eating the same food that caused our obesity, how is that going to change anything in the long run? It won’t and you will end up back in the same spot in time. It’s also a good idea to figure out why all the food; what were we running from? What were we trying to make ourselves feel good about? What sets us off? Just thinking in these terms helps identify the cause of the problem. The end game is many more years of joy in living as a healthier and slimmer person.

10 thoughts on “Moving on to ‘Real Food’

  1. Sandyee Sherman says:

    thank you for sharing this.  plan to start preparing for all the changes to come and want to to start before the surgery 
    so the family has already adjusted to the changes.

  2. Belinda says:

    Thanks for the great article. I am 8 weeks out and eating solid foods, somewhat. The weight loss has stopped so I will try some of your recipe ideas. Thanks again.

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks for the tips on meal planning after surgery. My husband does most of the cooking due to my other health problems. He will feel like he can handle it with this info now!

  4. jeanette schmiderer says:

    I am at a standstill with my weight loss I can now start eating soft foods going to regular foods ,Don’t want to gain what I loss ,So far I loss 65lbs ,my Dr said he want my 45lbs more to be gone by 2018.I am just worried about me gaining when I start reg food,any suggestions for me

    • Marisa Ligons says:

      Hi Jeanette,

      Just stick with your plan. It is pretty normal for you to stall around weeks 3-6 as you adjust to regular foods and your body catches up with you having surgery. Continue to try to hit your protein goal first, drink plenty of fluids, and once you are released to exercise – move your body. You have done fabulous so far!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the suggestions! I have a 4, 3 and 2 year old and I’ve slipped into, “just 1 bite of Lucky Charms won’t hurt” land. I haven’t lost weight in 8 weeks, still 35 lbs from my goal. Back on the wagon for me!

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