Sarah Muntel, RD

Choosing to have bariatric surgery, is a big step. Patients are very motivated to make multiple changes in their diet, exercise plan and entire lifestyle in order to be successful. The changes patients make in their diet can be overwhelming at times, but start slowly and find one or two changes to make at a time.

As a bariatric dietitian, one question that comes up quite frequently is:

“How do I cook as a bariatric patient?”

This is a great question and something that needs to be considered by every patient. Remember, you can’t eat the way you used to and lose weight, so check out my below tips and start thinking of a few ways you can change the way you cook:

Spice it up: Patients get tired of plain foods. Spices are a great way to add some flavor to your diet. For vegetables, add dill to your asparagus, garlic to your broccoli, or rosemary to your brussels sprouts.

A patient once told me, “I am tired of eating plain boiled chicken.” I would be too! Spice up your meat in a variety of ways. Check your local grocery stores for marinades. Many marinade packets offer great flavor to spice up your meats. If you marinate your meats for a few hours, they will be moist and flavorful. You can also add spices to your meat. Use basil, black pepper or dry mustard on beef. Try bay leaf, cayenne, or curry powder on fish. Basil, garlic or marjoram work well on poultry.

Swap the carbs: Pre surgery, carbohydrates make up much of your diet. Rice, pasta, and bread are a staple for many people. After surgery, these foods need to be eliminated or greatly decreased to make room for protein. This can be tricky, but manageable for sure. Instead of Spaghetti, try spaghetti squash. Swap crackers for thinly sliced cucumber rounds. Make a pizza on a portabella mushroom, instead of using a pizza crust. Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower. Noodles in a lasagna dish can be substituted with zucchini. It’s time to re-think those carbs, find substitutions, and realize that these options taste great!

 Lighten up: Full fat items can easily be exchanged for low-fat. By choosing a light yogurt, cheese, milk, sour cream and sauces, you will save hundreds of calories. You do not need to choose fat free items. When the fat is removed, typically these foods are higher in sugar and we all know, bariatric patients don’t tolerate sugar very well. Speaking of sugar, try substituting sugar for Splenda or Stevia. This is a great way to cut your calories and get the sweet taste you may crave.

Do your research: Find some new recipes online. Some of my favorites are:

Another great way to find recipes is through Pintrest. You can search key words like “bariatric diet,” “low carbohydrate” or even something very specific like “cauliflower pizza.” I also follow the OAC on social media and receive healthy recipes almost every day.

Change your method: Instead of frying, look at different ways to prepare your foods. Low-fat cooking methods can save you hundreds of calories and they taste good too! Meat can be cooked quickly by boiling it in the oven. Consider braising tougher cuts of meat, by cooking meat slowly in a small amount of liquid at low heat in a covered pot. By using broth as your liquid, the meats will be flavorful. Grilling meats and vegetables outdoors can be a great option for delicious foods. Be sure to marinade first. Sautéing meats and vegetables in a small amount of olive oil and spices can also be a tasty option. Lastly, consider stir frying. Spray your pan with cooking spray or a small amount of oil. Add your thinly sliced meats, vegetables and some soy sauce and enjoy.

Have a healthy week!

About the Author
Sarah Muntel, RD, is the Bariatric Coordinator at Community Bariatric Surgeons in Indianapolis, IN. She has 15 years of experience working with bariatric patients and loves to work with people as they change their lives and improve their health. Her favorite part of her job is her weekly Support Group. In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.