The best way to keep complete control of your diet is to cook meals at home, and for this reason, you should prepare your own food as often as possible after weight loss surgery. However, all of us sometimes find ourselves eating in a restaurant, and it is almost always possible to do so without straying from the guidelines of your bariatric diet.
When you find yourself dining out after bariatric surgery, keeping tips like these in mind will help you choose something that meets your dietary needs:
1. Browse the menu online.
These days, many restaurants post full menus on their websites. If you know the restaurant you’re going to, head online before you go to look for something that will work for you.
2. Check the whole menu.
Don’t limit yourself to the entrees—you may find a healthier option in the appetizer menu. Though the small portions of the kids’ menu may seem sensible, these items are often too high in calories and fat to be good choices.
3. Pick protein first.
Make sure that whatever you order will have both protein and nutritious vegetables, and remember to eat your foods by order of their importance:
- Three bites of protein first
- Two bites of non-starchy vegetables
- One bite of carbohydrate
4. Stick with what you know.
Some foods may unexpectedly cause discomfort when you try them for the first time after weight loss surgery. Choose something you’ve eaten recently without trouble to make sure your body will be able to tolerate what you order.
5. Watch for high-fat buzzwords.
When you see one of these terms, it generally means that fat has been added:
- Cheese sauce
- Butter sauce
- Hollandaise sauce
For duodenal switch patients, who will need to eat more fat after surgery, not all of these terms will need to be avoided. However, “battered,” “fried” and “crispy” are all good indicators that a food contains trans fats, which will need to be avoided after DS surgery.
For those who have had gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy or gastric banding, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the terms above and instead look for low-fat terms like:
- Dry grilled
6. Swap for healthier options.
Look for ways to make healthier food substitutions whenever possible. For example, if your meal comes with a side of French fries, ask if you can swap them out for steamed vegetables.
7. Share a meal.
Splitting your order with someone else is an easy way to cut down portion size.
8. Order sauces on the side.
If your food comes with a sauce or dressing, ask your server to put it on the side instead of directly onto your food. This way, you can determine how much to put on.
9. Get a to-go box immediately.
The portion sizes at any restaurant will be too big for you to eat in a single sitting. Ask your server to pack up half of your meal in a to-go box before it arrives to limit the amount of food on your plate.
10. Avoid pre-meal snacks.
Many restaurants serve bread or tortilla chips before a meal, but these will fill up your limited stomach space with low-nutrition carbohydrates. Skip them and wait for the entrée.
By keeping tips like these in mind, you can have a healthy, worry-free night out at any restaurant. If you’ve been struggling with eating out or have any questions about what to eat, please contact us.