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Correct Portions After Bariatric Surgery

Correct Portions After Bariatric Surgery

Depending on how far out you are from surgery, this will ultimately determine your portion size. Right after surgery, there is a lot of swelling and inflammation that needs to calm down.

As this goes away, you will slowly be able to consume slightly larger amounts of food, however this will still help with portion control and calorie restriction.

We always recommend referring to the Nutrition Guidelines After Surgery book for guidance on portion sizing with each diet stage you are in. After having bariatric surgery, and time goes on, it is easy to slowly increase your portions over time to a point you might feel is eating too much.

Take a look at this post to help you evaluate your portions, and see if you are in fact over eating OR are consuming the right amount of food.

What do I do if I can eat more food than at the beginning of surgery?

This is completely expected as there is a lot of swelling present right after the surgery. At first, you will likely only be consuming about 1-2 ounces of food at a meal. But this should slowly increase as the swelling subsides. Ultimately, you should be consuming more than just 2 ounces of food at a meal. 

Now that I'm 4-5+ months out from surgery, how much should I be eating?

First, speaking with a Registered Dietitian is going to be the most helpful way to make sure you are getting exactly what you need for your unique self. Especially when factoring in exercise and activity level.

Below is a table that outlines the recommended portion sizes for long term weight loss success. Ultimately, the goal is to keep portions at each of your 3 daily meals to be around 4-6 ounces in total.  

What if I am able to comfortably consume more than the portion sizes recommended?

It is important to think about what types of foods you're eating at meals. It is likely going to be much easier to consume 4 ounces of Greek yogurt compared to 3 ounces of chicken. It is also easier to eat 3 ounces of mashed potatoes compared to 3 ounces of vegetables. 

This is why we recommend always eating your protein first, followed by fruits or vegetables. The types of foods you eat can also impact how full or satisfied you feel at the end of a meal as well. 

Once you are ready to maintain your weight, this is when the starchy carbohydrate foods can be reintroduced into your diet. However, we do recommend eating them at the end of the meal to make sure you are still getting the correct amount of the right nutrients. 

Portioning your foods correctly is very helpful in making sure you are consuming enough protein and calories to maintain your weight loss and lead a healthier life.

What do I do if I’m still struggling with my portions?

If you are still struggling with your portion size, it is really helpful to evaluate HOW you are eating your meals. Eating quickly, not chewing your food well, and being distracted can all contribute to overeating at a meal. Try a few of these tips to help you slow down, and create a more positive food environment.

Should I be snacking during the day?

If you are able to consume 6 ounces of food at each meal, this is likely not necessary. Snacking throughout the day, especially on chips, crackers, or popcorn can be a sign of stress or bored eating. In other words, eating not out of hunger, but to fulfill another need.

One way to check on this is to ask yourself the simple question, “How am I feeling?” before any meal or snack. This will create more awareness around snacks, and give you the opportunity to decide if you are truly hungry, or are snacking for another reason.

However, if you are struggling to reach your protein goal and are unable to eat 6 ounces of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, high protein snacks will likely help make sure that you’re getting enough calories and protein each day. Individuals with the Gastric Bypass may struggle in this way.

How do I truly know if I am overeating? 

When in doubt, track your nutrition using a cell phone application. We love the app Baritastic since it is made for people that have bariatric surgery and will help you track your calories, protein, sugar, and carbohydrates.

Take a look at our BLOG POST on nutrition goals to give you further information on the calorie, protein, sugar, and carbohydrate recommendations to track using the app!

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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