As fall weather begins to creep in, your mind may turn to the upcoming holidays and visiting with family and friends. However, it can be difficult to navigate a bariatric diet while traveling from Point A to Point B. With the right tools and proper planning, you can eliminate much of the stress of traveling, worrying about what you’re going to eat, and accidentally derailing your diet.
Travel Tips after Bariatric Surgery
- Eat a hearty breakfast. It’s all too easy to skip breakfast when you’re traveling, whether you’re rushing to get out the door or your hotel doesn’t offer breakfast. If you hit the road or take off from a runway hungry, though, you’re more likely to give in to unhealthy snacking temptations. Pack your purse or carry-on bag the night before with healthy on-the-go breakfast options like low-sugar protein bars, mixed nuts, protein granola, or trail mix. If your lodgings do offer breakfast, look for healthy proteins like Greek yogurt or scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, and whole grains. You can even sneak in some greens with a veggie omelet. Aim to start your day with a protein-rich breakfast to give your body the fuel it needs.
- Keep track of your food. Food journal apps make it easy to track your meals to ensure you’re getting enough protein and nutrients throughout the day. It also helps you avoid accidental over-eating. A handful of chips or a bite of a muffin may not seem like many calories, but the snacking adds up over the day. Your bariatric diet consists of much fewer calories than it did before surgery, and these empty calories do little to meet your nutrient needs. If you record everything you eat in a food journal, it’s much easier to hold yourself accountable for your diet.
- Bring snacks with you. If you’re traveling by car, you can bring a small cooler to keep your meals and snacks cool as you travel. Some good options include hard-boiled eggs, fruit, Greek yogurt, and cheese sticks. If a cooler isn’t an option, you can bring non-perishable snacks to avoid buying nutritionally deficient foods from gas stations and other road stops. If you’re traveling by plane, you can take food through security so long as it isn’t liquid.
- Plan your meal stops ahead of time. It’s not always possible to plan for every meal and snack when you’re traveling. Thankfully, many restaurants post their menus and nutrition stats on their websites. You can identify bariatric-friendly restaurants along your route to ensure you get a healthy and nutritious meal. If you have to stop somewhere without knowing the menu, look for a menu item that includes a lean protein and a vegetable. Baked or grilled foods will be your best option; avoid anything fried or breaded. Many restaurants allow you to make substitutions as well. Swap out unhealthy sides like fries for the vegetable of the day, a side salad, mixed fruit, etc.
- Don’t forget to hydrate. Dehydration is a significant problem for bariatric patients and is the number one reason for rehospitalization after surgery. You may not think to hydrate while on the road because you’re not expending energy, or you may want to avoid frequent bathroom breaks. However, your hydration needs don’t change while traveling. Pack several water bottles to sip on throughout the drive, or use a water bottle with ounce markings to avoid dehydration.
- Remember your vitamins and supplements. Packing can be a hectic time, especially if you need to pack for multiple people. When you’re packing your clothes and toiletries, remember to pack your vitamins and supplements as well. You can save space in your suitcase by investing in a daily pill organizer rather than packing every bottle. Vitamins and supplements are a critical part of your bariatric diet, as it is much harder to obtain adequate nutrients from your reduced caloric intake. Making a travel list of items you must have can help you remember to bring your vitamins as well.
Long-term weight loss success after bariatric surgery hinges on how well you adhere to your new diet. Traveling isn’t always diet-friendly, but the above tips can help you stay on track. Contact us to learn more about life after weight loss surgery and how it can benefit you.