It can be hard to know what to eat after weight-loss surgery. If your surgery was 3 or more months ago, there is a tool you can use to make it easier: the balanced plate. Once you’re ready for regular food, the balanced plate can help. Get ready to fuel your body with healthy and delicious meals!
Here are some tips to build a balanced plate, post weight-loss surgery:
- Use a plate no bigger than 9 inches.
- Measure your food. It’s important to tailor portions to your body’s needs.
- Add a protein-rich food first. Follow that with non-starchy veggies. If you still have room, add in healthy carbohydrates. This can help you prioritize the nutrients your body needs most. Try to eat your foods in this order, too.
The more recent your surgery, the less you’ll likely eat. These portions are the total amount to aim for. Use the hunger gauge as your guide. Eat slowly, chew well, and stop when satisfied.
- Lean protein: 2-6 oz (the size of 1-2 decks of cards)
- Non-starchy veggies: 1 cup
- Fruit, grains, starchy veggies: ½-¾ cup
- Healthy fats: 1-2 Tbsp
The building blocks of the body. Protein-rich foods are very useful. They help the body to maintain and lose weight, even out blood sugar levels, boost energy, and support strong muscles and bones.
- Lean pork and beef
- Beans (pinto, kidney, black)*
*Also sources of healthy carbs.
Nature’s superfoods! Non-starchy veggies have powerful nutrients that reduce inflammation. They also lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating plenty of them may help prevent heart attack and stroke. Enjoy a variety of colors and flavors.
- Leafy greens (collard, kale, spinach)
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
A tasty way to energize. Complex carbs include whole grains, starchy veggies, fruit, and dairy. The fiber in some carbs can help improve cholesterol levels. It can also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Since they have natural sugars, it’s best to enjoy carbs in small portions.
- Sweet potatoes
- Potatoes (russet, white, purple, Yukon gold, etc.)
- Beans (good sources of carb and protein)
- Squash (butternut, pumpkin, acorn, winter, etc.)
- Whole wheat products (tortillas, pasta, bread, etc.)
- Brown/wild rice
- Wheat berries
- Sprouted whole grains
- Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.)
- Milk (cow’s or unsweetened alternatives like almond, soy, rice, or coconut)
- Greek yogurt
Your body needs some fat to give you energy. Fat also protects your organs and helps keep your body temp at normal levels. Healthy fats lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase good (HDL) cholesterol. Fats can help you feel satisfied after eating, and even keep your brain working well. Keep an eye on serving sizes to make sure you are on track for your healthy weight goals.
- Unsweetened nut butters (peanut, almond)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Hydrate wisely. Take small sips of water between meals. Avoid drinking with meals. You don’t want to fill up on water!
It is important not to stop taking vitamin and mineral supplements after you’ve had weight-loss surgery. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s advice. Over the long term, weight-loss surgery can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It is important that you follow up yearly with your bariatric surgeon or primary care physician. They will check your levels to help prevent any problems with vitamin and mineral levels.