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How A Bariatric Plate Can Help You Stay On Track After Weight Loss Surgery

How A Bariatric Plate Can Help You Stay On Track After Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatric surgery is an effective and increasingly popular weight loss option for obese patients. Those who undergo surgery choose between lap band, gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery based on a variety of reasons including health factors and long-term goals.

Depending on the type of procedure they choose, bariatric surgery patients lose an average of 60 to 75% of their excess body weight. The majority of this weight loss takes place within 18 to 24 months of surgery.

Although most bariatric surgery patients maintain successful weight loss, weight regain is also a common risk. No matter what form of bariatric surgery a patient chooses, it’s important that they understand that surgery is simply a tool to facilitate weight loss. To continue and maintain weight loss, patients must commit to lifestyle changes. These changes primarily include diet and exercise.

Although maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle is up to the patient, there are several tools available to help them stay on track. For those who struggle with portion control, the bariatric plate is a great tool to try.

Patients cannot tolerate large portions after bariatric surgery.

Portion Sizes Following Bariatric Surgery

New bariatric surgery patients are unable to consume portions as large as they could tolerate prior to surgery. Each type of bariatric surgery alters the body’s digestive tract in some way:

●     Gastric Banding (also known as lap band) - an inflatable band is placed around the stomach, limiting the amount of food the patient can tolerate.

●     Gastric Sleeve - the stomach is resected, eliminating as much as 75% of the stomach.

●     Gastric Bypass - the stomach is replaced by a small pouch that can only hold 1 to 2 ounces immediately following surgery.

As a patient progresses further out from bariatric surgery, they begin to tolerate larger amounts of food at meals. This happens because the stomach stretches to some degree as it heals after gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery. Patients who have had a lap band for a while may experience decreased effectiveness as well.

If you’re struggling with weight regain, check your portions at meals.

Portion Control is Imperative to Maintain Weight Loss

Several studies have confirmed the strong relationship between portion size and calorie intake. Excessive calorie intake leads to weight gain, or potentially weight regain for bariatric surgery patients. However, patients can easily avoid excessive intake with proper portion control.

If a bariatric surgery patient wishes to continue and maintain long-term weight loss, they must practice portion control. For many, this is a difficult habit to implement. Patients may benefit from experimenting with some tricks and tools to incorporate better portion control.

A portion control gastric sleeve portion plate is a commonly recommended tool. In fact, many randomized control studies have shown the benefits of portion control plates on weight loss and improved eating habits.

Use your plate as a tool for weight loss.

What is a Bariatric Portion Plate?

A bariatric portion plate is a tool catered towards bariatric surgery patients who struggle with portion control. The sections on the gastric sleeve portion plate reflect post-surgery diet recommendations with the intention to help patients maintain a healthy diet. The way this plate is structured also helps protect patients from common vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Patients usually purchase their bariatric plate from a specialty store, or obtain a plate from their doctor or dietitian. Some patients keep a plate at home as well as in their car to use at restaurants, where portion control is especially difficult.

Bariatric Plate Portions

All bariatric plates, whether they are named a gastric bypass plate, gastric sleeve plate or lap band plate, focus on the same post-surgery diet principles. The first thing patients may notice is the smaller plate size. Most plates are only around 7 inches in diameter, which gives patients the illusion of a “full” plate despite smaller portions.

The plate is divided into three main sections:

Protein - The largest portion on the bariatric plate is protein. In fact, this portion takes up half of the plate. This aligns with the recommendation to prioritize high-value protein such as meat, fish and eggs at meal time.

Fruits and Vegetables - One third of the plate is dedicated to fruits and vegetables to optimize the patient’s intake of vitamins and minerals at each meal. Some plates emphasize vegetables rather than fruits. Either way, patients should focus on a variety of these foods.

Carbohydrates - The remainder of the plate (20%) is dedicated to carbohydrates - specifically, grains. These foods should be whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice and cereals. Whole grains are important because they contain essential B vitamins that bariatric surgery patients must have to avoid deficiency.

Portion control is a major factor for weight maintenance.

Other Tools to Practice Portion Control

Obesity is a lifelong struggle that must be met with lifelong changes. However with the right tools, incorporating a healthy lifestyle easily becomes a new normal. Here are some other tricks and tools that help practice portion control:

●     Take your time - Eating too fast usually results in overeating. Some patients choose to time themselves during meals. They use a stopwatch or timer on their smartphone to pace themselves at meals and avoid eating too quickly.

●     Use small utensils - Smaller utensils means smaller bites. Many bariatric surgery patients use baby or toddler utensils after surgery to force themselves to eat more slowly.

●     Chew thoroughly - Take your time and chew your food thoroughly. This slows down your eating and promotes mindfulness to avoid overeating.

●     Eliminate distractions - It’s much easier to overeat when you are distracted. Eat meals at the table and eliminate phones, TVs and other distractions.

●     Order from kids menu - Eating out poses a challenge for many who struggle with portion control, as well as those who simply can’t tolerate large portions. If possible, order from the kids’ menu or ask for a lunch portion when at a restaurant.

●     Learn to love leftovers - If a smaller portion isn’t an option on the menu, box up half of your meal as soon as it comes to the table. You won’t be tempted to clean your plate, and you’ll have lunch for the following day.

●     Share your food - Consider sharing a meal with someone when you go out to eat. Not only will this prevent you from overeating, but it will also save money!

Find the Tools That Guide You to Success

A healthy diet doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. It’s all about utilizing the tools for success that work best for you. The bariatric portion plate is a great place to start if you struggle with controlling your portions at meals.

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Breanna Woods, MS, RDN


Breanna Woods is a registered dietitian with over 5 years of experience in the clinical field. She has a master’s degree in food and nutrition, and strives to guide others to a healthy lifestyle.

Gintas Antanavicius, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Medical Reviewer

Dr. G is a co-founder of BariBuilder. A US-based expert surgeon with over 10 years of bariatric experience, he regularly publishes research in medical journals like SOARD, Obesity Surgery, etc.