Bariatric Meal Planning 101: Tips and Tricks for Success

Bariatric Meal Planning 101: Tips and Tricks for Success

Alex Brecher

Weight loss after bariatric surgery depends on what you eat, and success doesn’t happen by chance. Meal planning is an important tool to help you lose weight and stay on track. Here are some tips and tricks for success when you’re getting started with bariatric meal planning. 

As a reminder, no matter which stage of your bariatric diet you’re in, or how much or little help you may need with meal planning, it’s always best to ask your healthcare provider or nutritionist before starting any new plan.

Understanding Meal Planning and Why It’s Necessary

Meal planning isn’t meal prep or cooking. It comes before you actually get to the kitchen to cook and serve your food. Meal planning happens ahead of time so you can know what to eat or prepare when it’s time. That reduces the stress and avoids the guesswork that can come when you’re making last-minute decisions about your meals and snacks.

These are some more benefits of meal planning.

  • Checking to make sure you have enough protein scheduled each day.
  • Being sure to stay within your calorie and carb limits.
  • Being able to make a shopping list for the grocery store and ordering other foods as needed, such as from the BariatricPal Store.

Meal planning may sound boring or time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. To make them fun, think about how creative you can be while staying within the rules of your post-op diet. If you’re not ready to create your own plans, just use pre-made ones. They’re ready on the spot, and you can tweak them as you like to make them fit your needs. 

What’s in a Meal Plan?

A meal plan has some basic information. Every meal plan is different, but it might have the following information.

  • Items that are in your meals and snacks
  • (As necessary) ingredients involved in preparing meals and snacks
  • How much of each food to have

When looking over your meal plan, you can check to see that it has the following information.

  • Meal patterns - depending on what your healthcare team told you, you might have only meals or you might include snacks each day
  • It includes protein at each meal and snack, with the amounts adding up to your daily goal, which is often at least 60 to 65 grams a day
  • It includes non-starchy vegetables at most meals and snacks, starting with well-cooked pureed ones like carrots or green beans when you’re on a pureed foods diet
  • It’s low in carbs, often with one small serving of a high-fiber, high-carb food per meal
  • It’s low in sugar and does not have excessive calories from fat, such as in fried food or from buttery or creamy sauces or dressings
  • It has foods you like, including treats. The BariatricPal Store has all kinds of low-carb, high-protein, bariatric-friendly alternatives to favorites such as cookies, cereal, chips, pasta and more.
  • It includes plenty of hydrating liquids, and schedules them at times that are separate from when you are eating solid foods.

You can use your healthcare provider’s plans, or make your own.

Using Pre-Made Meal Plans

If you’re looking for a meal plan to follow, and your provider didn’t give you one, you can always check online. The BariatricPal Store has a variety of meal plans that are designed for bariatric surgery patients. Our plans go from the pre and post-op liquid diets through the mushy, soft, and solid foods stages of the post-op diet. You can also find back-on-track and pouch-reset plans to help you regain focus.

Each plan has easy-to-prepare foods and includes some ready-to-eat and instant products from our store. The meal plans are high in protein and low in calories, carbs, and sugar. You can always swap particular foods for other foods of similar nutrient value.

Establishing Patterns

Some people like variety in their everyday diets, while other people find it easier to have something similar every day or to have a regular weekly pattern that they follow. Whatever is easiest and most satisfying for you is the right choice for you. It’s okay to have any of the following.

  • A daily meal plan that is similar most days.
  • A weekly meal plan that you repeat most weeks.
  • A meal plan that changes all the time.

Making a Shopping List

A great thing about a meal plan is that it can help you make a shopping list. Just check what’s on the plan and see what you need to buy. You might do this weekly if you shop weekly at a grocery store. Supermarket items might include fresh foods, such as vegetables, chicken, cottage cheese, and fish, as well as staples, such as canned tuna and beans.

You might also use your meal plan to generate a list for online shopping at the BariatricPal Store. Protein Shakes and Bars, Protein Snacks, and Protein Entrees may all be on your list. You can also select to order them by subscription so that you are sure that you’ll never run out.

Involving Your Healthcare Team

If your healthcare team has given you diet instructions, be sure to follow them. Standard guidelines can include the following. 

  • Which foods are okay at each stage of the post-op diet
  • Which foods to avoid at each stage of the post-op diet
  • What proper portion sizes are for proteins, carbs, vegetables, and other key foods

Your surgeon and nutritionist can be great resources for more personalized questions, too. For example, you might have food intolerances or food preferences, and you may need to know how to accommodate those needs in your meal planning.

Some surgeons and nutritionists provide meal plans as a matter of course. If you didn’t receive one, but you want one, just ask. 

Bariatric meal planning can lead to success in your bariatric journey, and it can be something that’s exciting and fun. It can also make your weight loss journey easier. Ask your healthcare provider and nutritionist for help with meal plans and always follow their dietary guidelines, and be sure to include convenient and delicious foods no matter your plan.

Meal planning