Finishing everything on the plate is a habit often ingrained in childhood. We’re taught at a young age not to waste food. In some ways this makes sense, but in the realm of bariatric surgery it’s a habit worth reconsidering.
As an adult, you now have complete control over what and how much you eat at home. But finding a bariatric-friendly meal in a restaurant may seem a lot like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack.” So while dining out can be a great way to relax, socialize and escape from cooking it can also be a rather contentious experience.
Too often, restaurants set out to give patrons the illusion that they’re getting value in meals oversized with foods that are low in cost and fill up the stomach without providing important nutrients. Proteins such as meat are more expensive than vegetables which are more expensive than carbs (rice, pasta, beans) because of the required refrigeration and concern for freshness.
For this reason, bariatric patients should view eating out as an enjoyable once-in-a-while activity rather than a daily occurrence. Knowing a few tips going in will help you enjoy a dining out experience without giving up control over your diet and leading to feelings of guilt from overeating.
- Start by going online or stopping by the restaurant of choice to check out the menu. Know what you’re going to order before you arrive. You’ll be less likely to indulge if you have a pre-established “game plan” for ordering.
- Avoid eating out when you’re starving. Follow the snacking guidelines set forth by your bariatric surgeon and dietitian. This may include having a small snack before you dine out to alleviate any temptation to overeat as a way of compensating for excessive hunger.
- Once at the restaurant, prioritize what you eat. Consume lean proteins first (chicken and fish are good options), then vegetables and then your carbohydrates. By the time you fill up on protein and a side of vegetables, you’ll eat less in the way of empty carbs.
- Make sure nothing will be fried or cooked in oil or butter, and skip heavily sugared or carbonated drinks. The strategy is to reduce your glycemic index (sugar load) in order to promote a fat-burning metabolism.
- If you don’t see anything on the menu that meets your needs, ask your server for a special preparation. Most restaurants will be willing to accommodate you.
- When it comes time to order, consider the lunch portion as well. Or, request that your server either split your meal with a willing dining mate or package it up to take home for another day.
- Chew every bite thoroughly and eat slowly. You’ll enjoy the experience more and fill up more quickly ¾ before getting to the empty carbs.
- Listen to what your body tells you and stop eating at the first feelings of fullness.
You can eat healthy at home or out on the town. What it comes down to is your dedication to your diet and long-term goals for weight loss success. The skilled staff at Lee Bariatrics is with you every step of the way to provide guidance and support after your life-changing bariatric surgery. If you have questions about how to eat out and enjoy the experience, give us a call at 1-888-715-4330.