Article By: Maria Tucker, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Maria Tucker is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 20 years of experience assisting patients with diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related conditions. Maria is also the Founder of MyBiyaya.com, a site dedicated to healthy recipes and kitchen shortcuts.
Ever find yourself wondering, “I need to eat healthy snacks, but I don’t have time to make them!”? Summer can be a busy time for a lot of us – vacations, making home repairs, kids’ training camps, etc. It is so easy to have time pass and before you know it, it’s been 6 hours since you last ate and you are ravenous! Well, here are a few bariatric-friendly snacks that are easy to make, plus a few options for ready-to-eat snacks you can grab at your local grocery store.
First, here’s how to choose a healthy, bariatric-friendly snack. Whether buying snacks or making your own, keep in mind these guidelines:
- High in protein – It should have at least 7 grams or 1 serving of protein per serving of the snack item.
- Low sugar – Total sugar of your snack should be no more than 10 grams per serving and added sugar should be no more than 5 grams per serving.
- Low in fat – Total fat of your snack should be 5 grams or less per serving and saturated fat should be 2 grams or less per serving.
- Contains fiber – Though not a must for snacks, it is a great bonus if your snack has at least 2-5 grams fiber per serving. Having a smaller stomach after bariatric surgery can sometimes mean not getting enough fiber. Having snacks containing fiber will help you stay full longer and get you to the recommended goal of 25-35 grams fiber per day.
1) Homemade make-ahead protein snacks.
Protein pudding pops – Dissolve 1 (4-serving) packet sugar-free chocolate or vanilla instant pudding mix with 2 cups cold fat-free milk and 1 scoop chocolate or vanilla protein powder. Mix until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds (Silicone ones work the best!) and freeze. Enjoy!
Mini cheeseburger bites – Mix 1 lb. lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey with 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon hamburger seasoning mix, 2 tablespoons reduced fat mozzarella cheese, and 2 tablespoons quick cooking oats until well-combined. Scoop into a mini muffin pan (not a regular size one) sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake in a pre-heated 350o oven for 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze if not used up by the 3rd day.
Cheddar parmesan crisps – Mix together 1 cup each of shredded cheddar and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Add 1⁄2 tablespoon Ranch dry seasoning mix to the cheese mixture and stir to combine. Scoop tablespoon-sized heaps of the cheese mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, making sure they are separated 2 inches apart to allow the cheese room to spread. Bake in a pre-heated 400o oven for 5-7 minutes or until edges are brown. Watch the oven carefully as it can quickly burn. Cool in the pan slightly and transfer each crisp onto a paper towel lined pan. Store in an airtight container.
No-bake cinnamon protein-energy “donut holes” – Combine 1 cup quick cooking oats, 1⁄4 cup finely chopped nuts, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 6 dates (chopped), and 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon in the bowl of your food processor. Process the ingredients until well-combined and smooth in texture. Form into balls and place the protein balls in a parchment paper lined baking dish. Freeze for about 30 minutes. Roll the protein balls in vanilla protein powder or cinnamon powder mixed with monk fruit extract. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. You can also change the coating to desiccated unsweetened coconut flakes, sugar-free sprinkles, or sugar-free chocolate cookie crumbs for fun variations.
Greek yogurt vegetable dip – Add 1 packet Ranch dry seasoning mix, Zesty Italian seasoning mix, or taco seasoning mix to 1 cup (8 ounces) unflavored or plain Greek yogurt. Combine well. Use as dip for cut up fresh vegetables.
2) Packaged snacks.
Protein bars – There is a dizzying array of protein bars in the stores and online these days. When looking for a good protein bar for your snack, keep these guidelines in mind: less than 200 calories per serving, at least 10 grams protein, 5 grams or less fat and added sugar per serving. Choosing protein bars with at least 2 grams fiber per serving is even better!
Protein shakes & drinks – As with protein bars, it is important to choose the one that meets your needs and satisfies your taste buds. Plant-based protein shakes are a great option for those who have an intolerance to whey or milk-based protein shakes. Clear protein drinks, like Protein 2O, Isopure, or Premier Protein Clear protein drinks are good alternatives to protein shakes for people who do not tolerate milkshake-type protein drinks. Naturally sweetened protein shakes and drinks with stevia or monk fruit extract as the sweetener may help with decreasing bloating and gas that can sometimes happen when consuming shakes with artificial sweeteners. Lactose-free protein shakes, like Fairlife Nutrition Plan, are great for people who have lactose intolerance.
Protein chips – There are several brands of protein chips you can find in stores nowadays. There is Wilde Protein Chips made with chicken breast, bone broth, and egg whites. A serving of these chips provides 10 grams protein. Beanitos tortilla chips is another great option. Made with beans or lentils, these chips provide 5 grams protein and fiber per serving and are restaurant style, so the pieces are larger than your average tortilla chips. They come in several flavors and are great paired with salsa or hummus. These chips are not only great as snacks but can be used as no or low carb “breading” for your air fried pork chops, chicken tenders, or fish sticks.
Jerkies & deli meat – Sometimes called meat sticks, beef, turkey, ostrich, and even bison jerkies are available in stores and can be a quick and easy, no refrigeration needed snack you can carry in your pocket or purse. Low fat pepperoni or pastrami are also great options for a protein snack. Choose lower sodium options, especially if you are on a sodium restriction.
No matter what you choose for your snack, it is important to plan times to eat your snack between meals to help keep you full longer and prevent overeating or overindulging. Eating a protein snack after you exercise can help support muscle recovery. Keep your healthy protein snacks stored in your fridge or pantry closer to eye level and other less healthy snacks out of easy reach. When you feel the urge to snack, remember to ask yourself these questions before you indulge: Is it time to eat? What protein food can I eat? Make protein snacks a part of your meal pattern to control cravings and reach your protein and calorie goals in a healthy way! Enjoy!
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.