A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the biggest food holiday in this country. People are encouraged to eat to the point of needing to sleep. How do you enjoy the holiday after surgery when your relationship with food has changed?

First of all, food doesn’t need to be everything. Enjoy time with family and friends with non-food activities. Participate in a “turkey trot” walk or jog. Turn up the music and dance with your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews. Pull out the board games. Watch old family videos. There are lots of ways to spend your day without the focus on food. But eventually, you will be seated around the table for the big meal.

Turkey – Enjoy this protein-based food! Each ounce of turkey has 7 grams of protein and even the dark meat is relatively low in fat. The dark meat (legs, wings, and thighs) is more moist than the light meat so you may tolerate the dark meat best. Keep the skin on the turkey while it’s cooking to lock in the moisture. If you deep-fry or pan-fry your turkey, avoid eating the skin soaks up the oil and may feel too greasy for your stomach.

Gravy – Gravy is a condiment. Just like salad dressings, you can put some on the side and dip each bite of turkey into it. If you are sensitive to high-fat foods, gravy will likely be too rich for your stomach. Trader Joe’s makes boxed turkey gravy that is low in fat and still has good flavor.

Potatoes – The nutrition profile really changes based on how your potatoes are prepared – mashed, baked, roasted, twice-baked. Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and they contain many nutrients in their skins. Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A, which is how they get their orange color, but they are still a starchy vegetable. Because of their dense, starchy texture, they may feel heavy in your stomach. You can slim down mashed potatoes by using skim milk or plain Greek yogurt to add creaminess in place of butter or cream. You can also swap cauliflower in place of potatoes for a dish lower in calories and carbohydrates that feels lighter on your stomach.

Stuffing – This staple of the Thanksgiving plate might not feel good in your stomach since it is bread-based. Bread products tend to swell up in the stomach and make you feel uncomfortably full. You can try a small amount of the real deal or experiment with reducing the bread and adding more vegetables. Eggplant, butternut squash, mushrooms, and chickpeas can add bulk to a stuffing in place of bread.

Green Beans – The casserole version with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions will likely be too rich for your stomach. How about roasting your green beans and topping with good quality Parmesan cheese? Or sautéing with some garlic and olive oil? These are great cooking methods for any Thanksgiving vegetable including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and carrots.

Dessert – Sweet foods can be as problematic for the stomach as high-fat foods. They can cause dumping syndrome in extreme cases, or nausea in more mild cases. For many people, a couple small bites are all they need to feel satisfied with sweets after surgery. If that’s your situation, have some of the real deal and savor each small bite. If you are looking for a slightly larger quantity, there are lots of bariatric-friendly dessert ideas, including protein shake ice cream, sugar-free pudding “cheesecakes”, and protein balls.

My favorite bariatric food resource is The World According to Eggface blog: http://theworldaccordingtoeggface.blogspot.com . Shelly has been blogging about delicious bariatric-friendly recipes for 13 years. Use the ‘Search’ function to find Thanksgiving recipes that will delight everyone at your table, whether or not they’ve had surgery. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Scoop on Collagen

The Scoop on Collagen

Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular with their touted health benefits of improving skin health, alleviating joint pain, increasing muscle mass, and even promoting weight loss. But is there evidence to support these claims?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It is a structural protein naturally occurring within connective tissues, such as skin, bone, cartilage, and tendons. As you age, your body produces less collagen.

Collagen, like all proteins, is made from amino acids. Tryptophan is one amino acid that the body cannot produce; you have to get it from your diet. Since collagen does not contain the amino acid tryptophan, it is not considered a complete source of protein.

Collagen is found naturally in food sources such as bone broth, fish, egg whites, and spirulina. Eating foods high in vitamin C and zinc can help the body to produce collagen. Some dietary and lifestyle factors, such as high sugar intake and smoking, can damage your body’s collagen. In its whole form, collagen is not easily absorbed by the body. Many supplements contain collagen peptides which have been broken down to make them easier to digest.

Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements range from powders and capsules to bars and baked goods. When reviewing the popular brands, serving sizes vary greatly. For one product, 6 capsules a day provide 3.3 grams of collagen peptides and costs $38. In another product, 2 scoops of powder provide 20 grams of collagen peptides and costs $25. So price, serving size, and collagen content vary widely, much like other protein supplements. If you choose to supplement with collagen, consider which option will work best for your lifestyle and budget.

Another controversy remains over safety. There is not much evidence to suggest that collagen supplements are unsafe but it’s important to consider the source of these products when doing your research. Bovine hide, chicken bones, and fish skin are common ingredients and may have potential for metal and toxin buildup within your body. Companies have begun to address these concerns with labeling such as “grass fed,” “pasture raised,” “ethically sourced”. Many companies label their product to acknowledge that they test for heavy metals to ensure they are safe to consume.


In short, collagen supplementation has the potential to promote positive health benefits, but with research still in early stages, there is little conclusive evidence to fully support these claims. If you do choose to supplement your diet with collagen, strive to include it as part of a balanced diet rich in a variety of protein sources, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.