Going Vegetarian After Gastric Bypass

by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate

Recently, I've more and more been following a vegetarian diet. Primarily, it is because I have been having severe digestion issues since January. After months of doctors, supplements, and alternative therapies, eating vegetarian seems to ease my digestion for reasons yet unknown. But what I do know is that since having **gastric bypass weight loss surgery in 2003, I've had to eliminate more and more foods from my diet because of food intolerances.I became intolerant first to gluten, then lactose, then foods containing high levels of phytates. I had already eliminated red meat from my diets ages ago, along with processed foods, because they do not agree with me physically or emotionally. Eventually, I choose to follow the Paleo diet and eliminate legumes and all grains (not just those with gluten). Sometimes I'll even indulge in this [ recipe for Paleo German Chocolate Mug Cake**](http://www.healthcentral.com/obesity/c/276918/170406/paleo-german-chocolate-cake) Needless to say, there are more foods that I cannot eat than I can eat, and that is fine with me! From the perspective of mind-body-spirit connection, I feel really good about the foods that I eat.

The unique dilemma faced when eating vegetarian after gastric bypass, or any bariatric surgery, is how to maintain high levels of proteins and amino acids. I was very fortunate to find a vegan raw food protein powder from Garden of Life that does not contain soy -I'll never eat soy- preservatives, artificial flavors or sweeteners, GMOs, gluten, or lactose. To top it off, it is organic as well. See my review about Garden of Life Raw Protein for more information.

I make the Garden of Life Raw Protein Powder into a Vegan High Protein Shake every morning for breakfast, adding some probiotics and fiber, mixing it with coffee, coconut milk, and coconut water. Check out my recipe for Borne Appetit's Vegan High Protein Shake.

Lunch is usually raw veggies and tahini dip, sometimes a hard-boiled egg or seafood/tuna salad, and a piece of fruit. Dinner is a nice piece of fish and fresh veggies. One in a while I'll have a little quinoa. All of which so far is working for me. I also take a lot of digestive enzymes and supplements, so post in the comments section below if you'd like a list of those.

Now let's read what a bariatric health expert advises about eating vegetarian after gastric bypass.** Vegetarian ConcernsMany people believe that the vegetarian or vegan route will not 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 hardly the only one. In fact, you may be interested in a few [ recipes for vegetarian protein bars**](http://www.healthcentral.com/obesity/c/276918/177017/vegetarian-protein-protein).

Nearly all unrefined foods contain some protein and 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, according to Laurie Shank, RD, LDN at St. Luke’s Bariatric Center. For instance, one cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein and most beans contain 15 grams of protein per cup.

Vegetables from the dark green leafy selections 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, and additional supplements may be required.

Living larger than ever,** My Bariatric Life**

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“Can You Be Vegan/Vegetarian after Bariatric Surgery?”
By Laurie Shank, RD, LDN

Cheryl Ann Borne
Meet Our Writer
Cheryl Ann Borne

Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website MyBariatricLife.org, and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl is also writing her first book and working on a second website.