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Making the Best Food Choices During Social Distancing

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Choose This, Not That When Grocery Shopping

Posted by Alexis Newman, Bariatric Dietitian

You've put so much effort into preparing for and getting through bariatric surgery. Don't let social distancing (also called physical distancing) get in the way of your progress. With the right food choices, you can easily maintain the weight you've lost, and even continue losing if you're not yet in maintenance. Here's how.

Social distancing and limited outings require preparation. Even if you’re sheltered in place, grocery stores and online shops are still accessible. Make sure your pantry, fridge and freezer are well stocked, and meal and snack plans are prepared so you don’t just grab the closest thing when hunger strikes.

Think high-protein, low-sugar, fat-free and low-fat. When you make your grocery store runs or place orders to be delivered or picked up, consider these smart choices.

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Protein is the mainstay of your meals.

Choose this Instead of that
Eggs, Egg Beaters Pastries and cereal
Fat-free yogurt Regular yogurt
Fat-free cheese including cottage cheese Regular cheese
Skim milk and fat-free or low-fat dairy products Whole milk
Veggie burgers Big Mac
Beans including black, kidney, pinto,
fat-free refried, navy
Regular refried beans
Baked or seared fish, including cod,
haddock, halibut, salmon
Breaded or fried fish
Baked or grilled seafood, including
clams, lobster, crabs, oysters, shrimp, scallops
Fried or stuffed seafood
Baked or grilled poultry without skin Fried or breaded poultry, poultry
with bones and skin
Lean ground beef, lean cuts of beef
trimmed of fat
Ground beef with more fat, non-lean cuts
Cold cuts, mostly fat-free Bologna, salami
Natural peanut butter Regular peanut butter


Recommended starches are whole-grain and low-fat.

Choose this Instead of that
Brown rice White rice
Whole grain pasta Regular pasta
Whole wheat bread, English muffins,
pita bread, tortillas
White bread products
Pumpernickel, rye bread White bread products
Low-fat or whole wheat crackers Regular crackers
Cereal with no added sugar including
oatmeal, bran flakes
Sugar cereal
Rice cakes Potato chips
Plain air-popped popcorn or 99% fat-free
microwave popcorn
Buttered popcorn
Sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, squash,
corn, peas
French fries


Preparation is key when it comes to vegetables. Avoid sauces and frying.

Choose this Instead of that
Carrots and cucumbers Potato chips
Brussels sprouts Biscuits
Cabbage and cauliflower Crackers
Green beans Buttered potato
Peppers — yellow, green, red Pasta salad
Tomatoes Store-bought spaghetti sauce
V-8 juice Lemonade or soda


Stay away from canned fruits that are packed in syrups or sweetened juices.

Choose this Instead of that
Apples, orange slices Candy
Bananas and cantaloupe Croissant or pastry
Berries Maple syrup
Canned fruit packed in water or natural fruit juice Fruit packed in syrup
Peaches Peach pie or cobbler
Unsweetened applesauce Sweetened applesauce
100% fruit juice Lemonade or soda


Focus on fat-free or low-fat options and limit your servings.

Choose this Instead of that
Fat-free salad dressing Regular salad dressing
Fat-free mayonnaise Regular mayonnaise
Fat-free cream cheese Regular cream cheese
Fat-free sour cream Regular sour cream
Margarine Butter
Nonstick cooking spray Butter

Watch Your Portions

It may be tempting to overeat while you’re sitting at home. Find other activities to fill your days, and consult the guides provided by your bariatric surgery team for portion information.

Keep in Touch with Your Community

You’re more likely to stay on track with your weight-management goals when you feel like part of a community — even if it’s a virtual community for now. Connect with others on the Temple Bariatric Facebook page to share your highs and lows, get recipe ideas, learn new workouts and stay engaged in your life. This too shall pass.

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