Menu plans (for gastric band): What I eat

by Christine on September 16th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Gastric Banding Surgery

The other day I was yapping at Allan from “Almost Gastric Bypass,” asking him to post a few sample recipes of what a typical gastric bypasser might eat. After doing a quick internet search, I discovered that sample menu plans were really hard to come by. (He politely declined, claiming that nobody would really care.)  I then realized that very few meal plans exist for gastric banders as well. So…this is my attempt to offer up a few sample meals…things I eat…on the offchance that it will help someone out there in cyberland.

To start with, I recommend reading my “How I lost 90 pounds” post at the top of this blog. You’ll read a very general overview of my eating: I limit my carbs, indulge in healthy-fat foods, eat every 2 hours, etc.

Additionally, I aim to eat 800 calories a day. I get a lot of emails and comments from people shocked at that number and proclaim it to be much too low. I’m not suggesting that 800 is how much you should eat, but I DO suggest finding out what your calorie setpoint is. It’s different for everyone, so don’t just base it on some dumb medical chart hanging on a wall; every body is uniquely different (different genetics, different metabolism) so figure out what works for YOUR body and go with that.  I believe 1000 calories is my “maintenance” calorie setpoint, so I aim for 800 to get a 20% deficit, hence the weight LOSS.  It works for me; find what number works for you.

At 800 calories a day yes, I have plenty of energy and exercise sufficiently on this number — provided I’m not sick with the flu or whatever, of course. Unless you have a BMI of 18 or less or have other complicated health issues, you’re not going to throw your body into “starvation mode” or some other gimmicky bullcrap if you lower your calories 10-20%. Honest. No danger. In fact, there  are numerous of real, genuine scientific studies that extoll the benefits of reducing your calories, with facts that doing so reduces your risk for heart disease and helps you to live LONGER.

All that being said, here are a few sample meal plans:

Meal Option #1

Breakfast: Almonds (90 calories worth)
10 a.m.: 1 apple (80 calories)
Lunch: Healthy Harvest Soup (seriously, I live on these things): 150 calories (that means you’ll throw some away. Don’t finish a whole can.)
3 p.m.: 6 crackers (70 calories) and 1 oz cheddar cheese (80 calories)
6 p.m.:  2 oz grilled chicken (94 calories) with some 10 asparagus stalks (32) and 5 sliced mushrooms (40) sauteed in some garlic and 1 Tbs margarine (100 calories) and a dash of salt
9 p.m.: About a quarter cup of applesauce (50)
Total calories: 786 calories

Meal Option #2

Breakfast: 1/2 cup Honey bunches of oats (100 calories) and 1/4 cup skim milk (23 calories)
10 a.m.:  Grapes, 1.5 cups worth (92 calories)
Noon: Salad: 1 cup small cut-up lettuce of your choice (8 calories) + 1 medium tomato (22 calories) + 1/2 a cucumber (12 calories) and a small can of tunafish (70 calories) + feta cheese (less than half of one-quarter cup)(50 calories). Dressing is lemon juice and red wine vinegar (0 calories). NO MAYO WITH THAT TUNA.
3 p.m.: Almonds (90 calories worth)
6 p.m.:  2 oz grilled sirloin (107 calories) and 1/4 cup canned corn (44) + 1/4 cup black beans (50)
8 p.m.:  1 apple (80 calories)
Total: 748 calories

Meal Option #3

Breakfast: Medifast Protein Shake (I like Dutch Chocolate) mixed with water (100 calories)
10 a.m.: Almonds (90 calories)
Noon:  Campbell’s tomato soup (120 calories) + skim milk (40)
3 p.m.: 5 crackers (60 calories) and peanut butter (120 calories)
6 p.m.: Panera’s Vegetarian Black Bean Soup (200 calories), no sides.
9 p.m.:  Half a cucumber (12 calories) plus some lite ranch dressing (66 calories)
Total Calories: 802

As you can see, it’s very easy to eat every two hours, eat healthy and filling foods, and yet keep your calories well below your goal!  Honestly, if you cut out empty carbs (sandwich breads and wraps, potatoes, rice, etc) you’ll discover that it’s easier to keep your calories low.

I’m no saint. I make poor eating choices all the time. For instance, I’m sipping on a Red Bull (110 calories) right now. I have a weakness for just a tiny bit of Mr. Goodbar in the evening. I factor those into my diet by perhaps cutting a few almonds out or eating two bites less of my lunch.  In the end, I try to keep my calories focused on 800 calories.

My favorite foods are:


  • Honey bunches of oats
  • Cheerios (plain version, not the sugary honey stuff)
  • Eggs, any style! (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
  • Almonds


  • Cucumber or slices of bell pepper + LF ranch dressing
  • Almonds
  • Any fresh fruit at all. Just keep it to 150 calories or less.
  • Medifast protein shake (other protein shakes are ok, just watch calorie amounts)
  • Tuna fish + spicy brown mustard — NO MAYO and NO BREAD. Just plain.  Put it on some celery!
  • Cheese + crackers (limit the amount of crackers; watch the calories in the cheese)
  • Homemade guacamole on toasted ww pita wedge (the fewer pita wedges the better)
  • Pickles


  • Healthy Harvest or Select Harvest soups (only 150 calories worth or thereabouts; that might mean throwing a little bit out). I particularly like soups that have beans or barley in them. I limit soups that have pasta, rice or potatoes in them (or I’ll “pick around” them, since it takes me forever to eat anyway.)
  • Campbell’s Tomato soup
  • Panera’s Vegetarian Black Bean soup
  • Homemade salad with any veggie you want in it. Throw in a dash of cheese or avocado! Vinegar + lemon juice as a dressing.
  • Leftover grilled chicken from the night before, with a side of veggie


  • Pretty much any grilled meat (chicken, sirloin, pork chop, fish) with FISH being optimal.  Keep your portion sizes to about 2 oz, unless it’s fish in which case you can probably do 4 oz.
  • If you’re dying for a carb, try couscous or quinoa
  • Any side of vegetable, preferrably fresh. Add some extra-virgin olive oil or margarine, but watch the calories and only add about 100 calories worth at the most.

You can read a few old food journals of mine by clicking here and here for even more meal options.

Eating with Gastric Band
Eating with the gastric band can sometimes be a challenge. You’ll have to find what foods work for you and which don’t. For instance, I can’t eat broccoli any more to save my life.  I cannot eat bread products, such as pizza dough. Many banders have problems with steak and celery. That’s fine, just learn to avoid those items and instead eat foods that you CAN eat.

That being said, be careful that you don’t end up drinking or eating too many “liquid” calories. It’s very easy to opt for a protein shake because it’s easy, and then realize after the fact that 2 scoops = 220 calories. Yikes! Similarly, resist the urge to order cream-based soups (cream of potato, cheesey cauliflower) because they are loaded with calories. Instead seek out soups that have lots of veggies and beans in them.

Hope this helps! I’ve lost 90 pounds with the band so far, and by watching your calories and choosing healthy foods, you can lose the weight too!

(That’s me, 2nd to the left, with the blazer on)

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  • Amandakiska

    Good information although my diet is really different from your’s.

  • Bonnie

    Thanks for sharing. It’s always interesting to me to see what others are eating – especially those who have lost a lot of weight with the band.

  • Patrick

    Christine that is a great before & after set of pics there.
    I can’t see the collar bone in the before picture but I am guessing even if you had a similar top on the before picture would not have shown much collar bone. You what I really see different though is strength; your after pics, this one and others, in them you look strong. I am not sure if you feel strong or not but you put off strength in your current day photos.

    Strength is very cool :-)

  • Shotbycupid03

    thank you!

  • Nancy

    Thank you so much for the meal plan. If you have any other meal plans please post or email me. I find it very hard to lose weight without a meal plan. email address

  • Sarahlou79

    This makes good reading, im having my band in 6 weeks and was panicking about eating again, this gives me a good starting point as to what to eat.

    • Christine

      Hi Sarah! I’m glad that the meal plans help a bit. You should check this page out too, for tips on what to eat during the mushy foods stage! GOOD LUCK!

  • delbird

    Thanks I’m so close to opting for a gastric band but people think I will just end up stretching my stomach anyway, not sure if thats possible tho.  Well done you for you r weight loss you look great 

  • Kmelluzzi

    This has been very helpful – thank you.  I am 1 year post opp and still struggling to get it right.  I was looking for some menu ideas and this has been perfect. 

  • chanels

    Do you have any problems with eating meat? I’ve had my band for 3 years and while I love it and haven’t regretted it one moment, I can’t eat a lot of things, for instance, any red meat, lamb, or chicken breast. I can’t eat rice and lots of veges including corn, peas and beans. It’s amazing how quickly the pain from the band turns to dislike of a food. I used to love rice, now I can’t stand the thought of eating it. My main problem is that I seem to have no problems with food that is bad for me, such as chocolate and isecream.

    • Amanda

      I have the exact same issue as you. Bad stuff goes down like a dream, can’t eat protein or vegetables or rice etc. to save my life. Good luck.