This last weekend I went to an 80th birthday party where a good number of the elderly crowd were runners. And they are runners in the present sense – still out running several miles a week in all weathers. In between their energetic dancing forays onto the disco floor (I kid you not!) they chatted to me about their healthy eating regimes, exercise schedules and tips for recovery after surgery/races/late-night partying! Without doubt all had a varied and healthy diet with plenty of protein, wholesome complex carbs, vitamins and minerals but did allow themselves treats. ‘Everything in moderation’ was a well-worn phrase that tripped off their tongues. They all tucked into the meat roast buffet (carving themselves large slabs of pork, beef and chicken); added vegetables or salad, a slice or two of bread and ‘saved room’ for a slice of birthday cake for pudding. How I envied their gusto and ability to eat almost anything they wanted, knowing full well they would be out the next day running off any excess calories.
I’m not, as you will have gathered a runner, but I have picked up my exercise since WLS. I now swim a couple of times weekly, walk a good deal more than I ever did – certainly daily, and am one of the first on the dance floor when the occasion arises. This has meant that I have managed and maintained my weight better than I ever thought possible and whilst I still believe that weight-loss starts on the fork (or in the kitchen) I do recognise that exercise has a place within the food in/energy out equation helping with balance.
I asked a few of these veteran runners about their favourite dishes and they ranged widely from fish and chips, steak and vegetables, pasta and sauce to pizza, burger and fried chicken. So all the so-called fast-food and traditional favourites were there. What I learnt however from these wise folk was that they were ‘treat’ dishes not food for everyday. Their mainstay regime comprised grilled/broiled fish, baked poultry, beans and whole grains in umpteen guises and eggs – not unlike the regime many bariatrics follow. All supplemented with plenty of vegetables and fruit and only a modicum of refined sugar offerings. Their ‘treat’ dishes only appeared at best about once or maybe twice a week. They all admitted that they tinkered with their favourites – cooking their chips in the oven rather than in the deep fat fryer; used the leanest minced beef or steak for their burgers; removed the skin from some of the chicken prior to eating; and cut away any fat from their steak, chop or deli ham and left it on the side of the plate. We could all learn a few lessons from these old-timers – none of them felt deprived of their food favourites, all had a great relationship with food and almost nothing was off the menu as far as they were concerned. They all enjoyed a varied diet that meant they were unlikely to suffer from any deficiencies and all said (without exception) that they never skipped meals or went on an extreme calorie-cutting regime.
I have tried in the past to tinker with many favourites in the way they have to make them suitable for bariatrics – upping the protein element of a dish, cutting the fat, reducing the sugar as much as possible, making the food tender and digestible, and finally packing a good nutritional punch so that you get all you need in just a few mouthfuls or pouch-full! Check out many of these on the website – recipes for example like:
Turkey Bolognese (recipe here)
Chicken and Basil Pizza (recipe here)
Easy Vegetable Chilli (recipe here)
Five-Spiced Roast Pork with Root Vegetables (recipe here)
Fisherman’s Pie (recipe here)
Bariatric Macaroni Cheese (recipe here)
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie (recipe here)
Today I am also posting another. My bariatric pizza is a much-loved recipe mainly because it’s a dish that many never believe they can have and enjoy again and also because it is so adaptable. Based on a tortilla wrap and spread with tomato paste and finished with healthy toppings of your choice it can be ready to eat in next to no time. The original version is in my Return to Slender Bariatric Cookery Book. This version however is a little different. It’s the same tortilla but spread with just a smear of pesto sauce then topped with sliced pear, Parma ham or other very thinly sliced ham, rocket/arugula and the lightest sprinkling of shaved Parmesan cheese. The result is a marriage made in heaven – something to run home for!
PEAR, PARMA HAM AND ROCKET PIZZA
1 low carb or wholemeal tortilla
2 tbsp reduced-fat green pesto sauce
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and sliced
40 g/11/2 oz Parma ham
1 handful rocket/arugula
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese shavings
1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6.
2. Lightly grease a baking tray or line with non-stick bake-o-glide. Place the tortilla on top.
3. Spread the green pesto sauce evenly over the tortilla and arrange the pears on top. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
4. Arrange the Parma ham and rocket/arugula on top then season with freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmesan shavings and serve at once.
WLS PORTION: 1/4-1/2