Dear Foodie: How Do I Pack Weight-Loss Surgery Friendly Lunches for Work?

How Do I Pack Healthy Lunches for Work?
By Julia Weaver (aka “Dear Foodie”)

Dear Bariatric Foodie:

I work in retail and don’t have good access to a kitchen. I work nine-hour shifts and worry that if I go all day without eating I’ll run the risk of bingeing when I get home. What’s a Foodie to do?


Worried at Work

Dear Worried,

It is definitely possible to plan your day so that you can get in mini-meals/snacks without resorting to bingeing when you get home. My pot-op plan has me eating mini-meals every three hours or so. This means a mid-morning snack, lunch and mid-afternoon snack all get packed up each morning when I’m getting ready for work.

Depending on your surgery age, there are many non-perishable choices you can easily stash in your purse. Protein bars, jerky and single servings of nuts are all good options. You can get nuts in single serving packs or, as a cheaper alternative, you can buy a large container and bag your own. If they’re a trigger food for you, opting for the single serving bags might be a better option until you are in a place where you can trust yourself to measure out single servings from a larger container. Protein shakes can also be quickly mixed with water in a blender bottle to drink on your break (or find a ready-to-drink variety you like).

I like to keep things interesting, and have a variety of things to choose from to avoid getting bored with food. So thankfully, you’re not limited strictly to these non-perishable selections. But how to deal with non-perishable items without a fridge?

The first thing you need is a thermal lunch bag/box, something easily stashed wherever you keep your purse while working. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy (by by all means can and should be cute!). Here’s a good option to get your search started.

Next? Freezerpacks. If you’re conscientious about sticking it back in the freezer every day, one may be sufficient. I prefer having a bunch for those days when I realize I forgot to unpack the lunch box when I got home from work the day before. Plus having multiples makes it easy to stuff them in a larger cooler when I take weekend trips. Also, multiple freezer packs will keep stuff cold longer if it’s just stashed somewhere other than a refrigerator.

Finally, your choice of containers. Some people love mason jars…some like little bento box containers (Nik is partial to a container called “Bari-ware” especially for post-ops!) Some just get the cheap Gladware containers. Again, this is your choice so get what makes you happy.

Now that you have all your supplies, what do you put in it? Well, the sky’s the limit. Since no kitchen access (thus no microwave) means you’re looking for something on the cool side, how about trying Nik’s TVP Tuna or Berry Chicken Salad? Or take your time to really PWYF and make your own Lunchables. And don’t forget individual cups of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese for those snack times. String cheese and Laughing Cow wedges also work well for snacks. Finally don’t forget to pack yourself a fabulous little dessert like a pumpkin custard for your mid-afternoon pick-me-up. And if none of these, recipes strike your fancy, a simple search on the Bariatric Foodie blog (try plugging in search terms like “lunch” and “snack”) will come up with many other WLS-friendly alternatives to add to your repertoire.

While it may seem daunting at first, after a few weeks you’ll find yourself quite the pro at dealing with your food needs throughout the day!

Julia had gastric bypass surgery on December 14, 2011 and has lost 178 pounds – and counting!

In her spare time she likes to dote on her cats, Gatsby and Zelda and make nummy treats for post-op barbecues!

If you’d like Julia to research your question on post-op life, email it to She promises, she’ll get back to you!

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