People often find that they have a different relationship with food after weight loss surgery. It is common for them to feel like they are now eating to live instead of living to eat. For many, the drive to eat diminishes to the point that they need to set a time-to-eat alarm or they simply forget to eat. And tastes do change. Some favorite foods lose their appeal while other foods taste better than they did prior to surgery. With all of these changes, is it possible to actually enjoy eating after surgery? For sure! Here are some ideas that may enhance the enjoyment of food.
Healthier Alternatives or Ingredients
When we think of eating healthy, often we focus on foods to cut out of our diet. Since you’re not on a temporary diet, but an eating plan that you’ll follow for life, it makes sense to find new ways to enjoy those not-so-weight-friendly favorites. For some foods, you may determine that indulging in a small amount on occasion is the best way to go. But for most foods, you’ll want to find an alternative or a new preparation method that cuts the sugar, fat, and/or calories. Here are some ways to do just that:
Use powdered peanut butter in place of peanut butter in smoothies or recipes. The real creaminess of peanut butter on an apple slice is hard to duplicate, but powdered peanut butter works great in smoothies or other recipes calling for peanut butter. Using it saves you a whopping 145 calories per 2 Tbsp. serving.
In place of regular ice cream, enjoy no-added-sugar fudgesicles, make your own protein ice cream (see theworldaccordingtoeggface.com for great recipes), try a smoothie made with yogurt, milk and fresh fruit, or a small dish of Halo Top or a no-added-sugar ice cream.
Love pizza? Enjoy a slice of thin crust pizza occasionally, or better yet, make your own with a chicken (protein bonus) or cauliflower crust and lots of veggie toppings.
Craving Mexican? Make a delicious and healthy Mexican bowl by using cauliflower rice (or skip the rice), chicken, black beans, Pico de Gallo, avocado slices and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.
Sometimes you just have to have chocolate. Fortunately, you can crush that craving with no-added-sugar pudding (or stir in a little sugar-free Cool Whip and make a lighter mousse version), a no-added-sugar fudgesicle, Kroger Carbmaster chocolate milk, no-added-sugar hot cocoa, or a few bites of dark chocolate.
Spaghetti noodles can be easily replaced with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. If you opt for spaghetti noodles, eat mostly meat sauce with a few noodles to up your protein intake and minimize the risk of the noodles sticking.
Pancakes—no problem. Look for a recipe that uses protein powder, cottage cheese or egg whites for the base, and reduces or eliminates the flour. Top with sugar-free syrup or yogurt, or whip together Dannon Triple Zero vanilla yogurt with a ripe banana for a sweet protein-rich topping.
A lettuce wrap makes an awesome sandwich or taco and you’ll be able to get more protein and veggies without the bread to fill you up.
Use an air fryer to get that crispy texture with a whole lot less fat.
The possibilities to improve on your favorite foods are endless. Search out new recipes online, looking for those with high ratings. When you prepare foods at home with fresh ingredients you’ll be able to eliminate unwanted additives and slash added sugar, fat and calories without sacrificing taste.
Some people really do need to re-vamp their diet, ditch the processed foods they’ve been relying on, and learn to eat fresh wholesome food. Over time, your body develops a taste for healthier foods so you’ll soon start to make healthier choices without even realizing it.
Eating a more wholesome diet takes effort. You cannot rely on the ease of drive thru meals. Planning and preparing meals and snacks ahead of time will insure that you have healthy options available to you when it’s time to eat. Putting this extra effort into your eating plan will pay off with better food choices.
In addition to a lean protein source, fill the rest of your plate at lunch or dinner with vegetables. With a small stomach space, be particular about what you fill it with.
Seek out new ways to prepare your favorites foods and bravely try some new foods and foods prepared in a different way. An easy way to try new foods is to go to restaurants that are known for healthier fare and order something that you have not tried before.
Focus on the Positive
Yes, some sacrifices have to be made to reach and maintain a healthy weight after weight loss surgery. But as with most things, your perspective and attitude have a big impact on how much you are able to enjoy your new lifestyle. Here are some things to consider.
- The instant pleasure of having something loaded with fat or sugar will fade as you focus on the way your body feels after a healthy meal.
- Look for what you can have and you’ll find an array of healthy choices and alternatives to those not-so-healthy foods you used to love.
- Try new foods and new ways of preparing old foods—it’s an adventure. Some you’ll love and some will end up in the trash, but you’ll expand your options as you try new things.
- Savor the taste of fresh healthy foods and beverages. As you take small bites and chew well, you have a chance to really taste foods.
- You can feel good, not guilty, about the foods and beverages you are choosing. You have a sense of control over your weight and your health.
- Food becomes fuel rather than something that controls your life.
- You’ll notice how food affects your exercise routine, motivating you to make healthy choices.
- Your healthy habits will rub off on those around you. Your family will benefit from your improved eating habits and active lifestyle. It feels good to be a positive role model.
- You’ll be better at avoiding temptations when you eat small frequent meals, are in the habit of avoiding added sugars, and keep healthy snacks on hand.
When you focus on all of the positive changes that healthy eating brings about, you can’t help but appreciate fresh foods. The small quantities of food required after weight loss surgery and the determination to improve health makes it a great time to move from a diet of processed foods to fresh wholesome fare. And chances are, you’ll learn to enjoy eating in an entirely different and better way.
Oven Baked Asparagus Fries
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 large eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil an oven-safe wire rack with olive oil and set on baking sheet.
Set up three bowls to coat the asparagus. Put the chickpea flour in the first bowl. In the second bowl put the eggs (beaten). In the third bowl, combine the almond meal, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Working in batches, dredge asparagus in the chickpea flour, dip into eggs, and then dredge in the almond meal mixture; pressing to coat. Place the coated asparagus in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 168 calories, 9 grams protein, 11 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 280 mg sodium.
Dark Chocolate Blondies
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup almond butter
1/3 cup sugar-free maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Add the chickpeas, almond butter, sugar-free maple syrup, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla and egg to a food processor or blender. Pulse 5 to 10 times and then process on high until smooth. Stir in the dark chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly in the lined baking pan. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cut into 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 173 calories, 4 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 147 mg sodium.