Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
Weight loss surgery can be an amazing tool to help you achieve your health goals, but it's not a miracle cure. To ensure it works its magic long-term, learning what foods are best for you and incorporating them into your diet is key! What am I talking about specifically? I’m talking about foods that offer multiple benefits and minimal, clean ingredients. But mostly, I’m talking about plants! Why are plant-based foods so beneficial? And how do you begin to include more of these foods into your diet when you’re already focused on so much after surgery? Let’s dig in!
1) Why more plants? There are many reasons why introducing more plant-based foods into your diet after WLS is beneficial. For example, plant-based foods are generally low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in vitamins and minerals. These reasons make plant-based foods an excellent choice for anyone looking to manage their weight and/or improve their overall health. Colorful fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, help build and keep a healthy immune system, and most are rich in fiber, which can help keep you fuller and help with digestion (digestive support is key post-op). Now that you know the importance of including plants in your diet, let’s discuss how!
2) Incorporate veggies into every meal. One way to ensure you're increasing your plant intake is to incorporate them into most of your meals in some way. Plants can be the main course or a side item. Whether it's adding some spinach to your eggs in the morning or throwing a handful into your lunchtime salad, making veggies a part of every meal is a great way to increase your intake.
3) Try meatless Mondays. If you're accustomed to getting your protein from animal-based sources, it can be a bit daunting to try and get it from plants. But there are plenty of plant-based proteins out there. You just have to get creative. Beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes are excellent sources high in protein and can be highly versatile in how you eat them. You’ll see plant-based alternatives everywhere you turn in the grocery store nowadays. Plant-based substitutions can be especially beneficial when you’re not tolerating animal proteins as well as you’d thought you would following WLS.
4) Make a smoothie for breakfast. Smoothies are a great way to sneak some extra plants into your diet without the chore of cooking or preparing much. Throw some spinach or kale into your blender (along with some fruit and yogurt), and you've got yourself a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack. Adding powdered greens and plant-based protein powders is also an easy way to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and plants.
5) Eat more salads. Salads are an obvious choice for getting more plants into your diet, but that doesn't mean they have to be boring! Get creative with your salads by adding different fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and even grains like quinoa. Salads don’t have to be limited to salads with greens either! Try pasta salads using plant-based pasta made from chickpeas, edamame, or black beans for your protein! These options also offer a ton of fiber. Talk about functional food!
6) Batch cook veggies. Sometimes things don’t happen due to time constraints. Eating veggies is one of those things due to the time to prep and cook them if not eaten raw. But batch cooking can be your solution! Grab a large sheet pan and a variety of your favorite vegetables, and season them how you like. After cooking, just divide portions for the entire week so they’re ready to throw into a plant-based pasta salad or as a side item to a meal. Not a fan of roasting? Use an air fryer instead, so they’re ready in minutes!
Eating more plant-based foods after weight loss surgery is a big step towards achieving long-term success with your health goals. Notice I didn’t say “weight loss goals”. That’s because you’re in this for more than just weight loss. It’s about being healthy (inside AND out) and living your best life by choosing foods that support that big picture. So, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your day to feel and look your best!
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.