Does the thought of going out to eat at a restaurant after weight loss surgery (WLS) frighten you? Post-WLS individuals need to approach eating out in a whole new manner. According to Karen Edwards, a six-month post gastric bypass patient from New York, ?Eating out after WLS has been a struggle I?ve had to learn to adapt to. At first I was very scared to eat in restaurants and always worried I would eat something that didn?t agree with me and end up getting sick in public.?
Once you leave the confines of your own kitchen, you lose control of how meals are prepared. With the limited menu selection available at restaurants, picking healthy and well-tolerated foods becomes difficult and even confusing. According to Ms. Edwards, ?It was almost like learning to eat all over again. It takes practice, time and, most of all, confidence.? Also, the need for reduced meal sizes makes today?s standard restaurant portions completely unnecessary and almost a waste of money. Although it can seem overwhelming at first, you can regain the joy of dining out by following some simple steps!
BE SPECIFIC WHEN ORDERING
When choosing your meal, the primary focus should be on protein. Remember that protein helps achieve satiety and prevents malnutrition. Most will find that the moister and softer the protein, the easier it can be digested and thus the better it will be tolerated. Some great meal selections include boneless baked fish, dark chicken meat, beans, tofu-based dishes and meats in soups. When in doubt, avoid sources that are coarser in texture.
As a general rule, order foods that you have tolerated well post-WLS and avoid experimenting. Be specific when you order?remember that restaurants will often cater to you. Here?s an example of a properly ordered meal: ?May I have a moist piece of fish: baked, not fried, and a side of soft steamed cauliflower with no added oils, butter, sugar or salt.? Realize that in most restaurants you will need to make alterations from the existing menu selections. It is critical that you state exactly how you need your meal prepared.
BE CREATIVE WITH PORTION SIZES
BE RESTAURANT SMART
Sampson encourages people to request smaller entrées or portions and emphasizes that customers should not feel obligated to explain why they need this request: ?Restaurants cater to individuals with other medical needs, such as heart disease and diabetes, so requesting needs in food preparation for weight loss surgery should be no different.? Getting a restaurant card signed by your physician is a good backup if you find a not-so-compromising restaurant.
Tips for Dining Out After WLS
Megan Miller Moran, RD, CDE, CDN, is the founder of megRD.com. She is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She conducts seminars on life after WLS.
For more information about restaurant cards and WLS-friendly restaurants, please visit www.obesityhelp.com/magazine/RestaurantCard.html.