Eating Out after Weight Loss Surgery

Yes, you can enjoy eating out after weight loss surgery! Many pre-op patients are concerned about how bariatric surgery might effect their social life. The good news is, you can still dine out with family and friends—and you don’t need to order from the children’s menu or show one of those silly cards explaining that you need special consideration as a bariatric patient. But, if you do decide to eat out, you may need to try a few modifications to stay on track with your new healthy lifestyle.

According to Dallas bariatric surgeon Dr. David Provost, the key to dining out after weight loss surgery is to make your long-term goal a bigger priority than short-term desires.

“Keep your dietary guidelines in mind as you order, and you will stay on track,” says Dr. Provost. Here are the top three guidelines to be mindful of when eating out after you are back on solid foods:

Tip #1: Modification is Okay
If you are out with friends or family, you may be embarrassed by asking for modifications to your order. But, asking for steamed vegetables on the side instead of French fries really is not a big deal. In fact, it’s perfectly fine and within reason to ask for certain modifications to your dishes so that you can remain on track with your post-bariatric surgery diet. For example, if the restaurant offers a fried fish entrée, request to have the fish grilled or poached instead. Ask your waiter to serve the condiments, such as salad dressing or mayonnaise, on the side. So many people are trying to eat healthy these days that your requests will hardly seem unusual, and you will be able to adhere to your dietary guidelines.

Tip #2: Watch Your Portion Size
“Fast-food restaurants may brag about their premium salads and apple fries, but for all the healthier items they’ve added to menus, portion bloat is bigger than ever,” noted Dr. Lisa Young, who co-authored a study on this phenomenon with Dr. Marion Nestle of New York University, in an article on “Not only are servings getting larger, some top fast-food chains are engaged in a sleight-of-name game — marketing ploys which could confuse customers who think they’re ordering less than they actually are,” said Dr. Young. That means watching your portion size is more important than ever. To stay on track with your new eating habits, order from the “light” section of the menu, or look only at the appetizer section. Another trick is to ask to use a to-go box the moment you place your order with your waiter, and pack up half your meal before you start to dig into your plate. These tips will help keep your portion sizes reasonable.

Tip #3: Watch What You Eat
Ordering whatever you want from the menu can be tempting when you’re out on the town or celebrating a special event, but keep your new restrictions in mind. Don’t order anything that is potentially difficult to swallow—in other words, save the steak and asparagus for dining at home, where you can manage them better. (The last thing you want is to get “locked up” and have to make a mad dash for the restroom.) Avoid doughy foods, such as rolls, pasta, pizza crust, and anything too thick to be comfortably digested. And remember that puddings and other soft desserts cannot be restricted by the Lap-Band, so you should avoid those options to stave off empty calories.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when dining out is to enjoy yourself. Chew slowly, eat mindfully, and use this time to connect with your friends and family. Dining out is a pleasant and entertaining experience, so don’t let your dietary restrictions keep you from having fun. Bariatric surgery will not hold you back from socializing; in fact, your newfound comfort with your body may help you to seek out and re-connect with those you love.

Questions about this article? Call Dallas bariatric surgeon Dr. David Provost at 254.724.2397 to learn more about the benefits of weight loss surgery and help determine which procedure may be right for you.

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