Since my gastric bypass weight loss surgery in 2003, I’ve had to eliminate more and more foods from my diet because of intolerances. I became increasingly intolerant to gluten, then lactose, then foods containing high levels of phytates, then fructose and fiber. So I decided to follow the Paleo diet and eliminate legumes and all grains. I already had eliminated red meat and processed foods from my diet ages ago, and ate only fish and fowl. But after months of doctors, supplements, and alternative therapies, not restoring my digestive health, I tried a Paleo vegetarian diet with fish (called a pesco-vegetarian or Pescatarian Paleo). My hope is it would ease my digestion as these foods are easier to digest, and thusly would improve nutrient absorption, too. In the long-term it would probably improve my weight, too.
Vegetarian Diet after Bariatric Surgery
The challenge to eating vegetarian after gastric bypass, or any bariatric surgery, is how to maintain high levels of proteins and amino acids. I was fortunate to find a vegan raw food protein powder from Garden of Life that does not contain soy, preservatives, artificial flavors or sweeteners, GMOs, gluten, or lactose. To top it off, it is organic as well! Read, Proteins and Amino Acids after Bariatric Surgery.
I make the Garden of Life Raw Protein Powder into a vegan high protein shake every morning for breakfast. I add some probiotics and mix it with organic low acid coffee, coconut milk, and coconut water. Read my review, Vegan Protein Powder for Weight Loss for more information.
Lunch is usually raw veggies and tahini or a garden salad with lemon and olive oil, bone broth, and sometimes a hard-boiled egg or seafood/tuna salad. I eat a serving of low-fructose fruit for an afternoon snack. Dinner is a nice piece of fish and fresh or fermented veggies. Additionally, I take a lot of digestive enzymes and supplements, which make the vital difference in my being able to digest my food and absorb the nutrients into my body — or not.
Bariatric Health Expert’s Advice for a Vegetarian Diet
Many people believe that a vegetarian or vegan route cannot adequately provide the bariatric patient with the nutrients she needs, particularly the protein that is usually sourced from meat. While meat is probably the most popular choice for protein, it is not the only one. Read: High Protein Vegetarian Meals Menus and Recipes
Nearly all unrefined foods contain some protein. According to Laurie Shank, RD, LDN at St. Luke’s Bariatric Center, filling the recommended 60-70 grams per day for women and 75-85 grams per day for men after bariatric surgery is not the chore you might think it is. For instance, one cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein and most beans contain 15 grams of protein per cup. Read High Protein Vegetarian Foods.
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale will provide the bariatric patient with iron. Calcium can be gotten from broccoli, bok choy, collards, okra, and kale. The dark leafy green vegetables also provide anywhere from 100-200 mg of calcium per cup.
While the bariatric patient can eat a vegetarian diet, it will require careful planning to make sure that key nutrients are had. Additional supplements may be required.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life