Dining Out for the Post-Surgical Patient
Vincenza Garcia, RD, CDN
With our hectic lifestyles and busy schedules, dining out has become a part of life for many of us. Typically, dining out often means higher consumption of extra calories and fat from large portions and extra sodium. However, it is possible to dine out once you’ve had weight loss surgery, stay on track with healthy eating, and still have it be a pleasurable experience.
During the initial post-op period, dining out may be more challenging due to individual food intolerances, and until the solid food stage (Phase III) is recommended. Here are some helpful tips when dining out:
– Plan ahead.Try to read the restaurant menu online before arriving so that you can plan your meal.
– Avoid arriving to the restaurant when you are starving. If you are dining out for dinner, keep your daytime routine as normal as possible with protein shakes and healthy snacks to keep you satiated.
– Focus on choosing lean meats and vegetables. Good choices of lean proteins are turkey, fish, chicken, tofu and lean ground meats.
– Ask the server to remove the bread basket from the table. – Avoid rolls, bagels, croissants and pastries which can add 200-400 calories to your meal.
– Avoid these cooking methods:
— Au gratin, fried, cream sauces or soups (i.e. “cream of…”), alfredo or battered
– Choose these cooking methods:
— Au jus, steamed, poached, grilled, baked, lightly sautéed, barbequed and roasted
When in doubt, speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask your server for an entrée to be prepared in a healthier way despite what the menu says (i.e: sauce on the side, grilled instead of fried, etc). Most food establishments will be happy to accommodate their customers.
– Don’t waste your calories on beverages. Choose water or other unsweetened, non-carbonated beverages to quench your thirst.
– Share an entrée with a friend or ask for half your order to be put away in a take-away bag.
Don’t neglect your eating behaviors:
– Set your utensil down between bites to control your pace of eating.
– Ensure the food you’re eating is moist enough. Order foods “au jus” or with a low fat/low calorie condiment/dressing/sauce on the side.
– Remember to chew well.
Remember, you have made a life-changing step towards a healthier future. While cooking at home is a preferable choice, dining out can still be a part of your lifestyle as long as you’re smart about it.