Cooking for Your Family After Bariatric Surgery

By Susan Epstein MS, RD, CDN

We all know how important sitting down to a family dinner is. With everyone on busy schedules, it’s a time to connect and hear about one another’s day. Often patients are concerned that after Bariatric Surgery, they will not be able to eat dinner with their families. Meals that are Bariatric “friendly” are not the types of food that the rest of the family would eat. This does not have to be the case. Bariatric friendly foods are healthy foods that the entire family can eat. The old idea that kids will only eat “kid” foods like macaroni and cheese with fish sticks or chicken nuggets and French fries, is viewed today as counter -productive to the long term health of children. Training your young children to choose and enjoy healthy foods will hopefully prevent them from struggling with obesity in the future.

What types of food can the whole family enjoy together?

Start with a lean protein. There are many ways to prepare chicken or to use ground turkey or chicken in recipes that your family traditionally enjoyed. How about a healthy meatloaf? Try combining ground turkey, low sodium taco seasoning, and different colored peppers. Bake and you have a quick and simple healthy dish. Preparing stews in the crockpot is another “hit the spot” type of meal especially as the days become cooler.

Next, always offer vegetables at your meals. Either colorful salads (with light dressings) or you can try a new cooked vegetable. If it’s served on the table daily, eventually your family will develop healthy eating habits. Try “carrot” fries. Use a “crinkle” cutter to slice the carrots. Add salt and thyme, then spray with a cooking spray and bake at 400 degrees.

How about cauliflower popcorn? Just toss cauliflower florets with a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. It’s so easy to search the internet for healthy, easy recipes.

There is nothing wrong with cooking carbohydrates for your family, just make sure that the meal always contains proteins and vegetables as we stated. There are also plenty of carbohydrate substitutes that can work for you, and your family may enjoy them as well. If your family is eating spaghetti, make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer for yourself. If your family enjoys mashed potatoes, prepare mashed cauliflower for yourself. Speak with your Dietitian if you’d like more ideas for carbohydrate substitutions.

Finally, don’t forget to provide healthy fluids for your family. Soda and other sugar containing beverages (including juice) are not healthy for anyone. Water is always the healthiest option. For some added flavors without the artificial sweeteners, try adding mint, cucumber, or fresh fruit to infuse flavor into the water.

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