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In the world of weight loss surgery, many post-op patients make the mistake of making separate meals for themselves. This sends a message to the family that eating well isn’t a good thing, that there is no reason they should eat what you eat or that you are being punished. Studies show when patients eat bariatric-friendly meals with their families, the patients lose more weight in the short term, keep the weight off in the long term, and their families become healthier.

It should be one of the goals of weight loss surgery patients to shift the food choices in their homes. By offering better foods in place of the bad, the families as a whole can enjoy meals together and all reap the benefits. If you are diligent in seeking out the good, no one will notice the shift. As the gate keeper of the home, you want to do the things that benefit the health of your family. Offering better food choices is one of the best ways to start your family on the road to living healthy.

Entering into this lifestyle can be challenging. So many changes and for some so little information. To begin the shift, remember these two words: protein and produce. High protein, low fat foods, and low-carb produce are the basis for a successful life change. Go for the freshest, least-processed foods you can find. Spices, seasonings, lemon and lime juice used with protein and produce, add flavor without calories or fat. Herbs are an another excellent way to boost flavor.

Think thin. Think turkey, chicken, pork tenderloin, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products. Let the shifting begin: meat balls made with turkey sausage, chicken tacos instead of beef.  Choose turkey bacon instead of pork. Turkey breakfast sausage has 70 percent less fat than its pork counterpart. Fish is fantastic grilled, roasted, baked, poached and smoked. Fried fish can easily be shifted into the healthy, tasty, quick and delicious food everyone will enjoy. Eggs are incredibly versatile and inexpensive. Instead of frying, poach or scramble them. Make an egg omelet filled with produce or low-fat cheese. Yogurt, ricotta and cottage cheese all have low-fat or fat-free versions, yet remain a great source of protein. Choose these without the added fruits or sugars.

Skip the bread. Skip the crackers, cereals, oatmeal, malt-o-meal, toast, pretzels and chips too. If you need a “carrier,” use sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and mini bell peppers. Replace those carbs with produce.

Eat the rainbow. Not Skittles, but a variety of colors of produce. By eating a variety of colors you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals. Enjoy produce roasted, raw or steamed. Serve it alongside your favorite protein for a healthy, delicious meal you and your family will enjoy.

Happy eating!