Healthy Eating After Weight Loss Surgery

September 18, 2019

When we think of eating healthily, one of the first food items that we consider are soups and salads. There are countless diets that lead us in this direction for weight loss. It is almost second nature to believe that soup and salad is good for our health and rarely do we question whether that is actually the case. It is obvious that leafy greens and basic broths can be very healthy for us, though not terribly delicious, however once we start dressing our salads and doctoring our soups, they can quickly turn into one of the worst culprits for weight gain and overall health issues. In the end, soup and salad may not be your best option, especially after weight loss surgery.

What Could Be So Bad About Soup & Salad?

In the case of a salad, once we start at adding dressings, we can quickly increase the number of calories and saturated fats. What we believe to be a healthy appetizer or main course is no longer so. Most salad dressings are not good for us and even fat-free dressing may have added sugar and sodium for taste. In the case of soups, while the components may have very healthy ingredients such as carrots and celery, the broth itself may be loaded with sodium which can cause an increase in blood pressure. Over the longer term, sodium can contribute to obesity and other health problems. Soup often has heavy cream stirred in to give it a luscious quality that packs in more fat than is needed in a meal. This problem can often be exacerbated when we are eating out at a restaurant, where we don’t know the exact ingredients and portions are usually large.

Should We Count Out Soups & Salads Entirely?

There are certainly ways to make soups and salads a part of your diet, especially if they are options you love. After having a sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass, it is important to monitor your protein intake. Unfortunately, many popular soups and salads are lacking in protein, but they don’t have to be. It is simple to add protein using lean meats, raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds, boiled eggs, or low-calorie cheese. With soups that have little protein, pureed beans can add protein and thickness to your soup. You can also consider adding unflavored or flavored protein powder, if getting enough daily protein is a struggle for you.

Soups and salads can be very good for us as long as we keep tabs on exactly what we are consuming, which we recommend with any food choice you make. With salads, make your toppings protein based and low calorie and avoid things that add excess sugar, fat, and calories like high-fat or high sugar dressings, croutons, and candied items or dried fruits. With soups, choosing the low-sodium option can give us all the excellent nutrition without the problems associated with a high sodium diet. When reading the nutrition label of a premade soup, also keep in mind the balance of carbs with fiber. Higher fiber foods help our GI system move more efficiently and keep the gut healthy.

Outside of Soups and Salads, What Else Should We Choose?

Beyond soup and salad is a whole world of food options! Lean beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian options can all be prepared in a variety of ways incorporating an array of flavors, textures, and tastes. Make it a goal to bring color to your plate when incorporating sides. Bold colors in vegetables often indicates beneficial nutrition that have packed inside. For both meats and vegetables, cooking methods like grilling, searing, baking, poaching, steaming, smoking, and roasting can all be accomplished easily, with delicious results utilizing little, or even no, extra fat or oil added. Explore your options and the differences you find with different cooking methods. Radishes, for example, taste very different roasted in the oven or blistered in a hot pan versus raw.

What If I’m Totally Lost?

It can be beneficial to work with a registered dietitian when you are struggling with your nutrition choices. After all, it is their job to talk about food! There are many healthy options available to us both in the grocery store and at many restaurants, but finding the best choice can sometimes feel overwhelming. It is important that we do our part to research what we are eating and strive to make the best choices for our bodies. A bariatric dietitian can help you navigate through each phase in your pre-op, post-op, and maintenance stages as you go.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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