What to eat instead of bread with a gastric lapband?

Bread is a convenient, healthy and great lunch food. It's also satisfying and lasts well into the afternoon when you've got a gastric band in place.

But for many people with a gastric band, bread is off the menu. So why aren't you eating any?

Is it that you are afraid that it might block the band?

Have you had some bad experiences with bread and are sworn off it now?

Maybe a forum told you bad is banned after a gastric band?

Don't be afraid to try bread.

Start with a toasted sandwich made with grainy bread. Cut the sandwich into nine pieces or take small bites. Chew well before you swallow. 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. It is perfectly okay to eat a full toasted sandwich if you can.

Don't let anyone tell you that this is too much with a gastric band on board! With a good approach to eating, 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 dried out but not quite as hard and dry as a baby's teething rusk. Too busy to twice-toast your bread? Then hunt out the Dutch rusk breads in the supermarket.

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 pan 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. Spread with a yoghurt based dip (tzatiki, yoghurt-beetroot), legume (chickpea hummous) or vegetable dip (creamed corn). 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 your experience case, pack a double serve - eat the second serve mid afternoon.

How about sushi? Take small bites and chew well to thoroughly tear up 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. Sushi doesn't curb hunger for long because it is mostly white rice with very little protein. You may find yourself hungry within a few hours.

Try baked potato (white or sweet). 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. Toss hot spuds with fresh spinach leaves, cubes of feta cheese, finely sliced and diced red onion, capsicum strips and dressing to make a hot salad. Serve on the side or top potatoes with savoury mince, ricotta and pesto, curried lentils, Mexican re-fried beans, or diced boiled egg. Top with a dollop of yoghurt. The choice is yours.

Leftovers are a useful but often treacherous choice. You may notice that microwaved heating toughens meat or chicken leaving it impossible to chew properly. The result? It feels like it is stuck after swallowing. If you eat 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. Before you pack a plastic container with leftovers, place the food onto a small plate 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.