Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, and owner of Level Up Bariatrics, LLC, a bariatric lifestyle coaching program that provides pre and post-op support for weight loss surgery patients.
Cutting out all the foods you might want to indulge in can be challenging if you've undergone weight loss surgery. But don't worry, you don't have to deprive yourself completely! In fact, including those guilty pleasures here and there (if you desire it) helps to foster a healthier relationship with food versus always telling yourself no, only to break down and go into a full-on binge. There are ways to indulge in guilty pleasures in moderation without sabotaging your progress. Check this out!
1) Pizza. Pizza is a major fan favorite, so let’s start with it! After WLS, if you opt for regular pizza, you must limit your intake in serving size and how often you eat it. Pizza can be a poor choice after WLS as it can cause or worsen acid reflux due to its high-fat content and red sauce. Alternatives include making pizza at home with a cauliflower crust, colorful veggie toppings, and different sauces and cheeses. Opt for lower-fat cheeses and go light on the red sauce if you struggle with acid reflux, which can be pretty common if you have undergone sleeve gastrectomy. You can also choose a thin crust for a lower carb intake and to not make you feel so bloated and full.
2) Popcorn. We all love that buttery goodness, but microwave-bag popcorn is not the healthiest choice. Luckily, there are so many alternative options available now. Look for air-popped popcorn brands like Angie's Boomchickapop, Skinny Pop, and Lesser Evil. You can even pop your own at home using a microwave popcorn popper with your own popcorn. It's a fun activity for the whole family! Get creative with sweet and salty toppings, like dark chocolate chips and sunflower seeds, to create a good on-the-go trail mix.
3) Chips. Chips are a classic snack, but it's easy to go overboard. Instead of mindlessly eating the standard empty-calorie chips, try shopping for ones that offer a better nutritional value. Look for protein-packed options like Quest protein chips or Wilde protein chips, which are super cool and made from chicken and other basic ingredients! For more wholesome options, go for baked chips or chips made from veggies and legumes. Brands like Terra, Kettle Brand, and Hippeas offer a variety of flavors and textures, and you still feel like you’re eating regular potato chips. It may take some time to find your favorites, but it's worth the effort.
4) Yogurts. Yogurt bowls and ready-to-eat yogurts have come a long way in terms of flavor and convenience. Even if you're not a big yogurt fan, you can find options that taste like your favorite desserts. Look for brands like Ratio or Oikos Triple Zero that are low in added sugars but high in protein. Ratio makes a killer key lime flavor that I recommend topping with whipped cream for a “key lime pie” feel. If you prefer to make your own, start with a low-sugar plain or vanilla yogurt and add your favorite flavors. Just keep the added sugars down to 5-10g or less per serving. Get creative with peanut butter powder, cocoa nibs, strawberries, or bananas. The possibilities are endless!
5) Chocolate. Get the most out of your sweet tooth with this healthier option: dark chocolate! Packed with antioxidants, fiber, and less sugar than milk chocolate, dark chocolate is a delicious way to benefit your overall health. Want an extra treat? Pair it with fresh-cut strawberries for a mouthwatering chocolate-covered strawberry experience. For a second option (and I know the sound of it doesn’t sound like the most enticing thing), try chocolate-flavored rice cakes! I spread almond butter on them, sliced bananas, and drizzle with honey. It’s such a tasty treat, and you can play around with the toppings as much as you want.
6) Tips & points to remember. When it comes to indulging, emotional eating can be a slippery slope. If you feel you are not in control even when trying to practice moderation, instead of reaching for that guilty pleasure, try alternative ways to cope with your emotions. Whether it's meditation, exercise, or confiding in a loved one, finding healthy outlets is key.
Secondly, don’t forget about portion control! Take a look at the nutrition labels and stay mindful of serving sizes. Chances are, you'll need less than you think. Measure out the appropriate amount and divide it into portion-controlled baggies. This not only helps prevent overeating but also tackles mindless or distracted eating habits head-on.
Lastly, remember, it's all about being intentional and responsible. Prioritize your relationship with food and make smart choices. Especially after WLS, you want to aim to make every bite count!
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.