Summer is finally here, and so is the time for outdoor entertaining. What better way to enjoy the warmth with family and friends than by going to a BBQ? But if you have had bariatric surgery, the impending BBQ season might be filled with some trepidation. Luckily, with some easy tips, you’ll find that you can enjoy everything summer has to offer, while still following your bariatric guidelines.

Portion Control at Parties and Gatherings

One of the most challenging parts of a post–bariatric surgery diet is portion control. Going to a BBQ where energy is high and plates are stacked higher, it can be tempting to get swept into old habits. But portion control can be easy to manage by:

  • Not going to the BBQ starving. You will be able to make healthier choices if you have a light snack like fruits or veggies or a low-fat yogurt to curb your appetite before the event.
  • Fitting in some exercise before the BBQ. Feeling accomplished from your workout will help you stay motivated to make healthier choices.
  • Staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water before the event to help you feel fuller.
  • Preparing a healthy dish to bring to the BBQ that you know you can enjoy. You won’t be worried about finding something you can eat, and other people at the party may be grateful for the healthier option as well.
  • Not feeling obliged to eat everything on your plate. If someone else served you a little bit too much, or you realize you chose too many options, pick and choose the foods that stand out to you. Try eating only one bite of each and taking your time to savor the flavors. Chew slowly to experience the meal, without overfilling your stomach uncomfortably.

Best Grilling/BBQ Foods

Traditionally BBQs are filled with tough meats and stringy vegetables, which should be avoided after bariatric surgery. But if you are past the third phase in your recovery then you may be able to start looking for options that don’t seem that far away from what everyone else has on their plate. Burgers and steaks will still likely be difficult for you to digest, but you can make simple substitutions like:

  • Choose chicken skewers over burgers. These let you eat leaner meats in small pieces without sacrificing flavor.
  • Give vegetable skewers a try. If you aren’t ready to eat meat yet, skewers with eggplant, peppers, onion, and zucchini are flavorful ways to punch up your plate.
  • Try new ingredients in your marinades like Worcestershire sauce, low-sodium tomato paste, chili powder, garlic powder, and lemon pepper. After your bariatric surgery, you may find that it’s difficult to digest foods high in fats and sugars, limiting your typical BBQ ingredients, like BBQ sauce, but experimenting with new flavors can be a satisfying and fun twist.
  • Focus on the vegetable sides. You may be tempted to skip the main entrees altogether and to stick to the BBQ sides, but sometimes these can have misleading calorie-laden dressings and fats. Choose a colorful array of veggies like eggplant, carrots, and red and green peppers to increase your nutrient intake, while still being flavorful. Add a dash of vinegar or olive oil and pepper to make them taste as colorful as they look.
  • Be creative with your beverages. Get online to find fun and unconventional recipes for flavored waters and unsweetened iced teas that can replace sweet teas and lemonades.
  • Try grilled fruit for dessert. If you have to have something sweet, try grilling up some peaches, bananas, apricots, or plums. Grilling fruit brings out their natural sweetness and, when paired with a cheese or yogurt, elevates them to a gratifying treat.

The internet is full of gastric bypass recipes and tips for a bariatric or gastric sleeve diet. Sites like Pinterest and cooking blogs are a fun way to stay connected with other bariatric surgery patients and to have fun exploring all of the options you have.

Foods to Avoid at a BBQ

While you may be able to start enjoying more of the foods you love after your surgery, there are still a few foods you should avoid when attending BBQs this summer.

  • After bariatric surgery, you will have to swap fatty meats for leaner cuts. This may mean that burgers and steaks as well as the breast meat of chicken and turkey, or heavy fish like salmon are off the table.
  • Avoid fruits and vegetables with tough skins. Things like apples and cucumbers have very hard, fibrous outer skins that may be tough to tolerate.
  • Try to skip fried foods or foods with a lot of butter that have high-fat dairy products in them. You might be more sensitive to these foods post-surgery and eating them continuously will affect your weight long-term.
  • Pass on desserts that are high in fat and sugar or sugary drinks like soda or sweet tea.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages for a few months after your surgery. Your stomach will struggle to metabolize the sugars and carbohydrates in alcohol, and you may feel the effects of the drink much more strongly and quickly.

It is possible to enjoy BBQ season while still maintaining your long-term health and weight loss success. For more information on how to eat after your bariatric surgery, contact Advanced Laparoscopic Associates today!

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