New Jersey Bariatric Center
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Does Having Weight Loss Surgery Mean Giving Up My Favorite Foods?

By Dana Babeu, R.D. | April 15, 2021

You’ve made the decision to have bariatric surgery and you’re excited about all the positive changes you’ll be making. Then it hits you, does this mean I will have to be giving up my favorite foods? 

No you don’t need to commit to giving up your favorite foods forever, and if you’re concerned about this, you’re not alone. Many patients wonder how they will manage the bariatric diet without feeling deprived of foods they love.  Here are some tips to help as you navigate food choices and the bariatric lifestyle. 

Find YOUR balance

Finding balance might mean a small serving of a favorite food once a day, for some. Having a “treat meal” once a week is more ideal, for others. Either way, it might help to follow the 90/10 approach to eating. Think of your food calories like a budget. Then, decide how to ‘spend’ your calories each day and throughout the week. The majority, or 90 percent of your foods should be chosen because they fuel your body while helping you keep your health and weight goals on track. These include lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables and foods rich in fiber and healthy fats. The other 10 percent, can be allocated to categories of food that may provide less nutrition but bring you a great amount of pleasure. This can range from something sweet to a small serving of pasta or even a favorite cocktail on the weekend. Figuring out how to organize your choices can be challenging at first, the registered dietitians here at NJBC are here to help you find a plan that works for you. 

Can it be Made Healthier? 

Not all favorite foods have to be put in the 10 percent category. Say you love sushi but don’t want to eat the rice that usually comes with it. Many rolls can be made wrapped in cucumber instead of rice. Fish or tofu-topped salads are another great way to get all the flavors of your favorite sushi dishes without loading up on starch. Is something sweet more your thing? Seek out options with less sugar or lower carb ingredients that will still leave you feeling satisfied. A few squares of dark chocolate or a dish of berries with whipped cream can help strike a balance between total deprivation and getting off track. 

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Decide When it’s Worth it 

Ideally, it’s best to plan ahead for what you’ll be eating each day and even for the coming week. You’ll know what to expect of yourself and your food, and you can indulge with intention. But when life doesn’t go as planned, you might find yourself faced with a food decision you didn’t anticipate. When this happens, and it will happen, ask yourself a few simple questions. What’s the best choice I can make under the circumstances? Is it worth it right now to indulge in a food I hadn’t planned on? What can I learn from this experience to help me be better prepared in the future? Then let it go. Resist the urge to beat yourself up over the occasional misstep. Each day brings new opportunities to grow in your relationship with food. And who knows, you might even add some new, healthy ‘favorites’ to your list along the way.

For more information on meal planning, weight maintenance and more nutrition-related topics, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians. Call our office at 908-481-1270.

Dana Babeu, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.
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