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 a life-changing experience, and it requires some major adjustments in your lifestyle, including your eating habits. After surgery, you need to pay particular attention to what you eat and drink, and mindful grocery shopping becomes incredibly important. When you are focused on losing weight and improving your health, it can be overwhelming to navigate the grocery store, to say the least. However, with some planning and intention, you can make this process simpler and more effective. In this post, we’ll share some of our top tips to make your grocery shopping trips a breeze while aligning with your goals.
1) Plan your meals & create a shopping list. Before you head to the grocery store, take some time to plan your meals for the week ahead. It’s unbelievable the positive impact this practice can have on your week. It will help you avoid impulse purchases that can derail your weight loss efforts and take the constant decision-making out of the equation. Once you've planned your meals, create a shopping list based on the ingredients you'll need. Stick to your list and avoid buying anything that's not on it. Start by just planning a few meals for the week to get your feet wet, and the more comfortable you become, you can begin planning more.
2) Shop the perimeter of the store. The outer edges of the store are where you will find whole foods like fresh produce, lean meats, and dairy products. When shopping the perimeter, pick your protein first and then choose foods with color by shopping the produced. Avoid the aisles in the middle of the store when possible, which is where you will find many processed foods and snacks that are high in calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats. By following this tip, you can find plenty of variety to create balanced and nutritious meals!
3) Read the labels. Reading labels can seem overwhelming when you don’t know what you’re looking at. But don’t think you have to analyze the whole thing every time. Start slow. When purchasing packaged foods, always read the nutrition label. Pay attention to the serving size, calories (are they quality calories?), protein, and carbohydrate content. Look for items low in sugar, fat, and calories and high in protein. A quick tip is to look at the percentages next to each item - 5% or less is low, and 20% or more is considered high. Aim for products that have at least 10 grams of protein per serving.
4) Buy in bulk. Many stores offer bulk items, which can be a great way to save money and reduce waste. Stock up on lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish when they go on sale, and freeze them in individual portions. You can also buy frozen fruits and vegetables in bulk, which are just as nutritious as fresh produce and will last longer. Buying in bulk can also support batch cooking for meal prep.
5) Don’t shop when you’re hungry. This may seem like common sense, but shopping on an empty stomach can be a recipe for disaster. Can you relate? When you’re hungry, you’re way more likely to make impulse purchases and grab items that aren’t on your list. Try to eat a healthy meal or snack before you go grocery shopping so you can shop with a clear mind and a satisfied stomach.
6) Choose quality over quantity. When choosing food items, focus on quality rather than quantity. Invest in high-quality meats, seafood, and produce for the best nutritional value. Resist the urge to buy in bulk only because it's a good deal. You won't benefit from the savings if the food goes bad before you can eat it, and your body certainly won’t benefit if it has low nutritional value.
Grocery shopping after WLS doesn't have to be a daunting task. By becoming mindful of what you're buying, you can make healthier choices and stick to your weight loss goals. Start with a grocery list, shop the store's perimeter, read food labels, choose quality over quantity, and shop mindfully. With these tips, you can make your grocery shopping experience healthy and enjoyable!
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.