Instead of bread?

Q: What's good lunch food for those of us not eating bread?

Answer: Well actually a question back to you. Why aren’t you eating bread? Is it that you are afraid that it might block the band and so you don’t want to try it? Or that you’ve had some bad experiences with it and are sworn off it now?

Bread is a such a convenient, healthy and great lunch food. It’s also really satisfying and lasts well into the afternoon when you’ve got a gastric band in place. So let’s start at the top.

If you’re just afraid and have never tried bread, then don’t be afraid.

Start with a toasted sandwich made with grainy bread. Cut the sandwich into 9 pieces and take small bites. Chew well before you swallow. And pause between each bite. You may find that half a toasted sandwich is satisfying enough in the beginning so toss the rest in the bin. But it is perfectly okay if you are able to eat a full toasted sandwich.

Don’t let anyone tell you that this is too much with a gastric band on board! If you are lucky and a good eater, then you may even graduate to a fresh grain-bread sandwich rather than toasted sandwich.

Some people with gastric bands eat ‘twice-toasted’ bread – this means the bread is quite dried out, almost like a baby’s teething rusk! Too busy to twice-toast your bread? Then hunt out the Dutch rusk breads in the supermarket.

But if you’ve tried ordinary toast and it doesn’t sit well, then try flat bread or wraps – lebanese bread, pita pocket bread, paper thin Mountain bread, lavosh (lavash) sheets, mexican burrito, tortilla wraps, and rice paper wrappers. Flat breads are less doughy and less gluey. You may prefer to toast these.

Sticking with the grain theme for lunch, because grains are packed full of B vitamins and fibre, the next option is wholemeal/wholegrain cracker breads and crispbreads. Choose a cracker that contains 5 g or less fat per 100 g. Top the crackers with a generous amount of protein – shaved lean deli meat (ham, roast beef, turkey), seafood, fish or eggs. Add salad or canned vegetables for more flavour and nutrition. The problem with crackers is that you fill up quickly on just a few, but they may not ‘last’ you long. You end up hungry later in the afternoon. If this is the case, then pack a double serve – eat the leftovers mid afternoon.

How about sushi? Just take small bites and chew well to break through the seaweed wrapper. Do not pop an entire small sushi circle into your mouth at once! Two sushi rolls is a comfortable sized lunch for many of my clients who have a gastric band.

Try jacket baked potato. Place washed, unpeeled baby potatoes onto the oven rack. Bake in a hot oven for up to an hour or until you can pierce them easily with a skewer. Eat a couple of baby potatoes hot or reheat the next day. Leave the skins behind if you are not confident enough to chew them well. Make a hot salad of this by tossing with your favourite flavours. Add fresh spinach leaves, cubes of fetta cheese, finely sliced and diced onion, and capsicum strips. Stuff with savoury mince, ricotta pine nut pesto, Mexican re-fried beans, or diced boiled eggs….the choice is yours.

Leftovers are a useful but, sometimes, treacherous choices. You may notice that reheating meat or chicken causes it to toughen up leaving it impossible to chew properly. The result? It gets stuck! So, if you are eating leftovers, you may want to reheat them very slowly rather than in the microwave. You will also want to make sure you don’t pack a main meal sized container of food, unless it’s all vegetables. Next time you go to pack a plastic container of leftovers, place the food onto a small plate first as though you were planning to eat it straight away. It is amazing how much you can squash into a small container, so be cautious that you don’t over-serve yourself. Don’t squish the contents in.

I am certain other readers will have ideas to share, so let’s hear about them. Email your ideas to me today and they’ll be published in the next newsletter or on this site. They can be anonymous or if you’re happy to include your name or nickname for publication, please say so.