The Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning for Sustainable Weight Loss

The Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning for Sustainable Weight Loss - Bariatric Fusion

Guest Blog By: Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino, DHA, RDN, LDN

Have you ever experienced those days when an unexpected event disrupts your eating and meal schedule? Imagine returning home late after a hectic workday, only to find no dinner prepared. It's a situation that can easily lead you to make impulsive food choices, potentially hindering your progress and steering you away from your goals.

The ultimate solution to ensure long-term success in achieving and sustaining a healthy lifestyle after metabolic and bariatric surgery lies in meal planning. By planning ahead, you equip yourself with the tools to navigate these challenges while staying aligned with your weight loss goals. Meal planning empowers you to control your choices, even on unpredictable days.

In this blog, I'll guide you through the journey of meal prepping, providing valuable insights to support your health and wellness goals. Additionally, I've shared my bariatric-specific grocery list to ensure you have all the essentials, allowing you to create meals that perfectly align with your bariatric diet. Your path to successful meal planning starts here!

Mastering Meal Planning

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, the importance of a well-balanced diet often takes a backseat. We find ourselves reaching for convenience foods or ordering takeout, sacrificing our health goals for quick fixes. But what if there was a way to regain control over your nutrition, save time, and set yourself up for success? That's where mastering meal planning comes in.

Meal planning is more than just a trend; it's a strategy that empowers you to make mindful choices, fuel your body with the proper nutrients, and achieve your health and fitness objectives.

Picture this: You open your fridge, and there, neatly arranged, are containers filled with delicious and nourishing meals. No more last-minute mealtime decisions, no more surrendering to unhealthy options.

Meal planning is a rewarding process that involves strategically organizing your meals by outlining what to shop for, prepare, cook, and store. This practice streamlines your schedule and offers significant savings and consistent eating habits. Contrary to common misconceptions, meal planning is easy and convenient, especially when approached with the right strategies. With a well-thought-out plan, you can effortlessly incorporate this practice into your routine without dedicating excessive time.

Where to Start: Meal Prep

A successful meal prep journey starts with simple steps to seamlessly integrate into your routine. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Assess Your Schedule: Take a moment to assess your week ahead. Note busy days, work commitments, and any social events that may impact your meal preparation.

  2. Create a Preferred Bariatric Foods List: Choose food options for your bariatric protein needs. Incorporate high-protein, low-calorie, and low-carb foods. This will be the foundation for planning satisfying meals that align with your bariatric diet. If you encounter challenges with suitable food options, consider talking to a dietitian for personalized recommendations.

  3. Explore Easy Recipes: Focus on recipes that require minimal preparation time and ingredients.

  4. Grocery Shopping Time: With your recipe ingredients, embark on a shopping trip. Stick to your food list to avoid impulse purchases and ensure you have everything you need for the week.

  5. Meal Preparation: Dedicate a specific time for meal prep. Utilize this time to cook, chop, and assemble your meals for the upcoming week. Batch cooking can save you time and effort in the long run.

  6. Optimal Storage Choices: BPA-free plastic containers with secure lids or glass containers with airtight seals are excellent options.

  7. Freezer-Friendly: Remember that your chosen containers should be safe for freezing. This way, you can prepare larger quantities and store meals in the freezer for future consumption.

  8. Portion Control: Consider portion sizes as you prepare your meals. Ensuring appropriate portions supports portion control and can help you avoid overeating.

  9. Convenience: Store your prepped meals conveniently in your fridge or freezer. This accessibility will encourage you to choose your planned meals over less nutritious options.

meal prep containers

With these steps in mind, you'll be equipped to navigate meal planning effortlessly. As you adapt, you'll discover that meal planning saves time and sets the stage for healthier eating habits that align with your bariatric wellness goals.

Bariatric Meal Plan: Grocery List

When compiling your grocery list, prioritize bariatric-friendly items. Refer to the suggestions on the grocery list below.

When selecting recipes, remember the concept of batch cooking. This involves preparing generous portions that can be divided into multiple meals, providing you with nourishing options throughout the week. You can extend this strategy to cover an entire month by freezing portioned servings in storage containers. This approach saves time and effort and ensures that you always have readily available wholesome meals.

Lean Proteins

  • Skinless chicken or turkey breast
  • Ground turkey, chicken, or 90% fat-free ground beef (preferably grass-fed, hormone-free)
  • Filet mignon or other lean cuts of meat, “sirloin”
  • Lean center-cut pork
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Whole eggs
  • Egg whites or egg beaters
  • Nitrate/nitrite-free deli meats (lean roast beef, ham, roasted turkey, chicken breast)
  • Fish (wild-caught fresh preferred, canned tuna or salmon in water)
  • Shellfish
  • Chicken or turkey sausage
  • Edamame/tofu and shirataki
  • Legumes and pulses

If you need to reach your daily protein intake goals, consider incorporating a protein shake into your day. This convenient option can help supplement your protein intake and nutritional needs.*

Complex Carbohydrates

  • Berries, but no juice and no fruit puree
  • Starchy fruit, such as bananas and plantains
  • Oatmeal, quinoa, farro, barley, amaranth, millet (ancient grains)
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain or lentil/garbanzo/edamame pasta
  • Starchy veggies, such as sweet potato, yam, and butternut squash
  • Avocados
  • Nuts, Nut butter, peanut butter powders, high protein peanut butter
  • Seeds such as flax, pumpkin, and sunflower
  • Olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, and canola oil
  • Veggies: All the greens, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, asparagus, herbs, onions, cucumbers, eggplant, celery, beets, turnips, acorn squash, rutabaga


  • Nonfat milk
  • Sugar-free dairy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, etc.
  • Fat-free half & half
  • Sugar-free creamers
  • Low-fat, zero-sugar yogurt
  • Low-fat cheeses, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, farmer’s cheese
  • Low-fat sour cream
  • Low-fat cream cheese
  • Heart-healthy butter alternatives and spreads


  • Water, infused water, sugar-free water enhancers
  • All herbal teas
  • Coffee (preferably decaf)
  • Beverages from the dairy list
  • Sugar-free, carbonation-free, alcohol-free beverages


  • Sugar substitutes
  • Monk fruit
  • Stevia
  • 100% pure maple syrup (use sparingly)
  • Demerara or pure raw sugar (use sparingly)
  • Sugar alcohols like xylitol


Meal planning is a powerful tool to keep you engaged and motivated on your weight loss journey. As you empower yourself to make healthy choices, your likelihood of achieving and sustaining your goals increases.

Embrace your journey and celebrate each milestone you reach. With meal planning as your ally, you can navigate this path with confidence and success. In my clinical practice, I see the most successful bariatric patients practice meal planning. Here's to your journey and the accomplishments that lie ahead. I wish you the best of luck!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your bariatric surgeon or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.

Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino is a retained consultant for Bariatric Fusion.

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