A question I often hear from our bariatric patients is “Can I ever go out to eat again? What can I eat”? Some patients tell me they avoid dining out after weight loss surgery because they are fearful of not knowing what to order and how much to eat.
Dining out can be challenging for many after weight loss surgery. Dining out is a part of life for most of us and you too can enjoy going to a restaurant after weight loss surgery. How soon should you wait after surgery to dine out? I recommend waiting until you have tried and tolerated some solid foods again.
Here are some tips to help guide you in making better, healthier food choices when eating out.
1.Do not be afraid to ask for substitutions! If the entree you order comes with a side of starch, ask for double vegetables or a salad. You can request your protein source be steamed, baked or broiled instead of fried. You can ask for your vegetables to be steamed or sautéed in light olive oil rather than butter. Request sauces and dressings to be served on the side.
2. Ask for a smaller plate to eat from like an appetizer or salad plate. Having a large plate served to you can be overwhelming.. How do you know how much to eat? If dining out or eating lunch at the cafeteria at work on a daily basis, I recommend using a pocket food scale to help prevent you from overeating. As a rule of thumb- the size of your palm ( no fingers!) is about 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards. For example, if your entree comes with 2 or 3 chicken breasts- take 1 off and put it on your smaller plate and estimate the size, remove the excess portion. Fill the rest of your plate with 1/2 cup of veggies or 1 cup salad. If your meal plan allows you to have a starch, 1/4 cup cooked starch.
3. Ask for your leftovers to be packed up. Don’t be shy…Doggy bags are great! You might have 1-3 more meals to eat during the week! Not to mention, you become a cheap date!!!
4. Ask the wait staff not to serve the bread and butter to the table. Less temptation is always best if you can avoid it. But, remember those you are dining with may want the bread and you have to learn to respect that.
5. Focus on Protein. Choose entrees that are protein sources like fish, poultry, lean beef or pork. Look for menu items that are baked, grilled, roasted or broiled. See something you like but it is fried? Ask the server if it can be prepared one of these healthier ways.
6. Share your meal with a friend! Some people will not eat leftovers. This is an easy way to save both calories and money for both you and a friend!
7. Always eat your protein first! Eat your protein first, vegetables next and starch last. You will fill up on the protein and veggies and most often leave over some or all of the starch.
8.Avoid dry foods. Choose soft/moist foods that won’t have you looking for your fluids. Make sure not to drink with your meals and wait 30 minutes after meal completion to drink again.
9. If you are suggesting the restaurant, look at the menu prior to suggesting to ensure you can find something on the menu that you like on your meal plan.
10. Slow down!! Chew well. Put your fork down between bites. Try using a smaller fork- less food gets on the fork!