Bariatric surgery requires you to go on a strict diet. It can be high-protein and low-carb, and may include only liquids or soft foods in the beginning. The easiest way to follow it is to prepare your own food, and many surgeons suggest that you do not go to restaurants.
The thing is, eating out is part of life. It may be to relax or celebrate with friends and family, or it may be at work functions. Either way, there is no reason to skip the outing. Just make a few smart choices, and you can stick to your diet and keep seeing the pounds come off.
Soup can be a good choice, especially for post-op patients who are on a liquid or pureed foods diet. Creamy and cheesy soups are fatty and high-calorie, so broth-based soups are better choices. If you are freshly out of bariatric surgery, you may need to stick to sipping on the broth itself. Otherwise, the following are examples of some possible options.
- Minestrone soup
- Chicken or beef vegetable soup
- Vegetable soup
- Bean soup
You may be in luck here. Nearly every restaurant has some form of lean protein and lettuce. You may have to search for it on the menu, or you can just ask. Grilled or baked skinless chicken or fish are likely available. Otherwise, you may be able to request a scoop of cottage cheese or plain tuna. Just ask for something such as salmon and broccoli, roasted chicken breast and green beans, or tuna with some slices of tomato, for example.
If you are up to solid foods and are able to tolerate lettuce (iceberg is easiest), you can ask for your protein to go on a salad. You can specify “a bed of lettuce” to be sure that you do not get high-calorie extras such as raisins or other dried fruit, croutons, chow mein noodles, or bacon bits. Also, ask for dressing on the side to avoid hundreds of calories from fat.
Many restaurants default to providing a starchy and/or fatty side dish such as French fries, mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice. Instead, you have every right to ask for steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, or a side salad. At worst, you can request that.
Most surgeons recommend that you do not drink liquids while you are eating a meal or snack. If you can, it is best to avoid drinking at restaurants if you are eating. However, if you do choose to have a beverage, stick to a calorie-free one. Plain or ice water, water with a wedge of lime or lemon, or unsweetened tea or decaffeinated coffee may be your best bets. Regular or diet soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and sweetened beverages can be counterproductive.
The “Don’t-Do-It!” List
There are some additional items that you might want to avoid at restaurants.
- Pasta dishes
- Creamy dishes
- Ribs and fatty steaks
- Crispy and fried chicken or fish
Having fun and living life are important reasons to get bariatric surgery in the first place, and eating out can be part of that for most people. Just make sensible choices when you go to restaurants, and you can stick to your plan and feel good about yourself.