For most bariatric surgery patients who are still in weight loss phase, you need to watch the amount of protein and carbohydrates you consume for the best results. Your meals should primarily focus on protein, then non-starchy vegetables, and finally healthy starches. Many times, we focus so much on protein that we forget about the wonders of vegetables. They’re filled with antioxidants, flavonoids, and fiber.
To help prevent any difficulties, avoid raw fruits and vegetables for the first two to three months after bariatric surgery and eat them cooked (or canned) instead. After that time, you are welcome to implement vegetables throughout the day. Here are some tips:
1. Make veggie-based soups. You can use a slow cooker to prepare your soup so that you can come home from a long workday to a bowl of hot soup.
2. Swap regular noodles for veggie noodles. For example, use your favorite lasagna recipe and replace the noodles with strips of zucchini sliced with a vegetable peeler. You may want to cook the zucchini some to draw out excess water (or else your lasagna will be very watery).
3. Use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas. Green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, and iceberg lettuce are some of the best varieties of lettuce to use in your lettuce wraps.
4. If you don’t like the taste or texture of vegetables, a simple way to overcome this problem is to make a mixed veggie puree and add it to your sauces. Example: blend steamed carrots, celery stalks, and zucchini—add the puree to your regular marinara sauce before ladling it over your spaghetti.
5. Blend vegetables into smoothies or protein shakes. Typically, you can add your milk, yogurt, protein scoop, ~½ c of berries, and even add a handful of spinach or other vegetables. Just one loosely packed cup (25 grams) of spinach contains more than a full day’s recommended amount of vitamin K and half of the recommended amount of vitamin A.
6. Including extra veggies in casseroles is an efficient way to increase your veggie intake. They add bulk, texture, and taste all at once. As you might expect, traditional casseroles are typically very high in refined carbs and calories, but luckily you can reduce calories and carbs in your casseroles by replacing the grains with veggies, such as broccoli, mushrooms, celery, or carrots.
7. Any type of veggie tastes great in omelets and you can really load them up for lots of nutrition. Spinach, onions, scallions, bok choy, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes are common additions.
8. Cauliflower is extremely versatile. You can rice it, roast it, stick it in a stew, puree it to make mashed cauliflower, and make it into a pizza crust. Replacing a regular, flour-based pizza crust with a cauliflower crust is as easy as combining finely chopped and drained cauliflower with eggs, almond flour, and some seasonings. Don’t forget: You can also “rice” other vegetables like broccoli, beets, carrots, zucchini.
9. Use vegetables in season for the best flavors and textures. Vegetables are usually cheaper when in season, but it does not mean you have to limit yourself only to that time of year. You can purchase frozen vegetables that are sold year-round and provide the same nutritional content.
10. Don’t forget to try different seasonings to make vegetables tastier. And try to experiment with boiling, steaming, grilling, and roasting the vegetables.