As the weather warms up, you may consider grilling out more often to enjoy the sunny days. Grilled foods are an excellent option for bariatric patients. However, summer barbecues also feature foods that aren’t part of the bariatric diet, such as potato salad, sugary drinks, and decadent desserts. Thankfully, eating a bariatric diet doesn’t mean you can’t have flavorful foods. Stick with the following barbecue tips to make your next cookout bariatric-friendly!
- More protein, please! Burgers and hotdogs may be typical barbecue fare, but red meats might be too fatty for your new anatomy to handle. Fortunately, you have several healthier options that are just as satisfying. Barbecue chicken, grilled salmon, and veggie burgers are all excellent options for a bariatric-friendly cookout.
- Marinate the meat. Marinades serve several purposes when cooking. One of the more well-known reasons is to add flavor. You can change the flavor profile drastically by opting for marinades that include garlic, Hawaiian barbecue sauce, or lemon juice. Marinades also tenderize the meat, which helps your new anatomy digest the protein better.
- Try a fruit infusion. Sweet tea, lemonade, and other sugary drinks are all standard barbecue beverages. However, they’re also high in empty calories, and excess sugar can cause digestive discomfort for bariatric patients. While water is always a good choice, it can feel a little bland compared to the other options. Tossing fruits into the water pitcher and letting them infuse for a few hours can add a calorie-free punch of flavor to your drink as well as visual appeal.
- Prep ahead with kabobs. Grilling out can be stressful if you’re trying to manage the grill, side dishes, and desserts all at once. Kabobs are simple to make ahead of time and are a great way to add variety to your plate. You can make meat, veggie, or fruit kabobs to suit any palate. They’re also already portioned for you, which can help you avoid overeating.
- Smart dessert substitutions. Your diet after bariatric surgery doesn’t have to be bland and boring. While many desserts are too high in sugar and calories, you can make bariatric-friendly options by grilling fruits. Peaches, pineapples, melons, and pears are excellent choices that you can put directly on the grill. You can also blend a protein drink with ice to make a healthy smoothie in lieu of ice cream.
- Eat ahead of time. While you can control the menu at your own house, barbecue season can be tricky when visiting friends or family. Eating beforehand can help you avoid the pitfall of trying to choose from food options that don’t align well with your dietary needs. Additionally, if you show up to the cookout hungry, you’ll be more likely to eat something that goes against your new diet.
- Remember your bariatric plate recommendations. The bariatric plate method provides guidelines to help you eat appropriate portion sizes. In general, your plate should be 50% protein, 25%+ vegetables, and 25% or less starchy foods. The portion sizes matter as well, as you won’t need as much food to feel full after bariatric surgery. Aim for 3-4oz of protein, 1/3-1/2 cup of veggies, and 3-4 tablespoons of starchy foods. Estimating portions without measuring tools can be challenging, but simple visuals can help. Three ounces of meat is about the size of your palm. One-third of a cup is harder to estimate, but one-half of a cup is roughly the size of a tennis ball or your cupped hand. Lastly, your thumb is about two tablespoons.
Many social activities revolve around food, so preemptive meal planning is critical for bariatric patients. Avoiding the stress may tempt you to forego these gatherings, but this tactic isn’t sustainable in the long term. If your approach to your new diet makes you feel isolated or resentful, you aren’t likely to stick with it for long. The above tips can help you enjoy summer cookouts without breaking your diet. Contact us to learn more about life after weight loss surgery.