Adjusting to a new way of eating is easiest to do when you’re preparing your own meals at home. However, it is possible to enjoy eating out after gastric banding surgery and still follow your dietary guidelines.
Tips for Dining out After Bariatric Surgery:
- First and foremost, don’t feel pressured to eat like everyone else. Other diners may order larger portions or unhealthy meals—don’t let that deter you or make you feel bad for choosing to eat with your surgery.
- Even if they are free and on the table, avoid foods that may be difficult to swallow, such as bread, and fibrous vegetables like asparagus. If you haven’t had a successful experience with a certain food at home, it might be best to avoid trying it for the first time at a restaurant. Steak if ordered is best if done medium or medium rare and remember to chose the most tender cuts (usually a tenderloin).
- Substitute side dishes. Instead of ordering the customary French fries or mashed potatoes with your meal, ask for a salad or steamed vegetables. Most restaurants offer these substitutions at no additional cost.
- Ask for all dressings or sauces to be served on the side.
- Know how your food is prepared, and avoid foods that are fried. Instead, choose meals that are grilled, baked, broiled, roasted, steamed, stir-fried, or poached. If the menu isn’t clear, ask your server how the dish is prepared before you order.
- Order smaller portions. Because you can eat less and feel satisfied, you may find that an appetizer or a meal from the children’s menu is sufficient. If a smaller portion isn’t available, then look at your food and mentally divide your plate. You’ll have left overs for lunch or dinner the next day!
- Ask for a to-go container at the beginning of your meal. If you do order a full-sized entree, it’s almost guaranteed to be more than you can (or should) eat in one sitting. Put half of the meal away for later so you won’t be tempted to clean your plate.
- Look for “light” menu items that are prepared without extra butter or oil.
- Only order an appetizer or dessert if you can share it with someone else.
- If you want to order an adult beverage, try a glass of red wine as a lower calorie alternative to heavy, mixed drinks and carbonated beers.
- If you are at a larger chain restaurant they can provide you with a nutrition information menu. Read it and choose foods with high protein content.
Finding a healthy meal at a traditional restaurant is usually easier than eating healthy at a fast food restaurant. If you do find yourself forced to grab a meal on the run, look for a deli that offers a lot of meat and vegetable options and the opportunity for you to customize your meal. If you absolutely must resort to a traditional “burger joint,” choose grilled or baked items instead of fried or breaded, and try swapping the fries for apple slices or a side salad.