The Kitchen

Eating with a Gastric Balloon

Having a Gastric Balloon fitted is an exciting step in your weight loss journey, but it can also feel a little overwhelming – what can I eat? How much can I eat? When should I eat?  This blog will take you through every step of mealtimes, give you some meal ideas, and let you know what to expect when eating with a Gastric Balloon.  

Eating with a balloon is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1 - Before meals... 

Plan your day around your schedule: do you prefer to eat little and often throughout the day? Or prefer to have 3 meals per day? Once you know your eating pattern you can plan your meal better. Keep meals balanced and try to include protein at each meal to keep you fuller for longer.  Know your triggers for emotional eating – it might be useful to keep a ‘food and mood’ diary: what did you eat, when, and how were you feeling before, during and after?

Plan your plate: aim for ½ the plate to be vegetables or salad, ¼ protein and ¼ carbohydrate

2 - During meals...

Follow 20/20/20/20:

  • Each forkful of food should be the size of a twenty pence piece.
  • Chew each mouthful for 20 seconds.
  • Wait 20 seconds between mouthfuls.
  • Limit your meal to no longer than 20 minutes.
  • Use a small plate (e.g., a side plate) and children’s cutlery to help reduce portion sizes.
  • Eat mindfully: find somewhere peaceful to eat with no distractions so you can enjoy your meal.
  • Use an app or timer so you are only eating for 20 mins – some examples are: Eat Slower, Bariatric Meal Timer, Baritastic.
  • Focus on fibre and protein to fill you up, eat the protein first.
  • Good sources of fibre: wholewheat pasta, wholemeal bread (try pitta bread, crackers or bagels), brown rice, potato with the skin on, muesli/granola, fruit and vegetables and pulses (e.g., beans and lentils).
  • Increase vegetable intake – try stir frying or roasting as an alternative to boiling or steaming.

3 - After meals... 

It can take a while to get used to the balloon – at first you may feel a little bloated or nauseous. This will go away with time (if the nausea lasts for more than 5 days then speak to your nurse). For the first week with the balloon, try to avoid strenuous exercise. While you have the balloon you may need to avoid vigorous aerobics or jumping as these may contribute to your nausea – you will quickly learn what works for you.

Get hungry between meals? Here are some healthy, protein-packed snack ideas: 

  • Carrot sticks and low fat hummus.
  • Sliced apple and peanut butter.
  • BabyBel Light/low fat cheese snack.
  • A few unsalted brazil nuts or walnuts.

An Example Food Diary:

Breakfast: handful of raspberries, protein yoghurt and granola

Snack: Brazil nuts

Lunch: Mediterranean style chicken salad with low fat feta, pomegranate seeds, salad leaves and a drizzle of low fat dressing

Dinner: Butternut squash and chickpea risotto (focus on the chickpeas and squash and only a small portion of the rice)

Dessert: Low fat strawberry yoghurt

In summary, having a balloon is just the beginning of your weight loss journey. For the 16 weeks you have the balloon, you should change your dietary habits, reduce your portion sizes and make healthier choices. After the balloon, those changes will feel like second nature and keeping up those good habits will be a key part of your weight loss journey.  

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