Bariatric surgery represents one of the best chance millions of people have to lose weight and live better. However, weight loss surgery isn’t a “magic bullet' or cure-all. Rather, it’s a tool — one that requires proper management on the part of patients.
Quality of life after bariatric surgery is a concern for many patients. One of the most commonly asked question in that regard?
“Will I still be able to eat out?”
The answer to this question is a resounding “yes” — with the right strategies in place, that is. Here are five tips aimed at helping post-bariatric surgery patients continue to dine in restaurants without compromising their weight loss goals.
For most people, making healthy choices is easier to do at home for one simple reason: You can control both ingredients and portions while simultaneously learning how to plan, prepare, and enjoy your own nutritious and delicious meals. The more regularly you go through this process, the sooner it will become a healthy habit. While eating in restaurants once in a while is fine, patients may be most successful if they approach dining out as an occasional — and not regular — occurrence.
Bariatric patients have the best outcomes when they make permanent lifestyle changes, including diet. Splurging on off-limits foods or eating large portions while dining out can quickly derail adherence.
Most restaurants today not only have plenty of bariatric food options, but may even list nutritional information on their menus and online. Reviewing the menu in advance can help patients identify the most appropriate and adherent menu items. Ordering soup, an a la carte protein and veggies, or a kid’s meal can help you keep portions in check, as can asking the waiter not to bring the bread basket to your table.
Additionally, looking for healthy keywords like “baked,” “broiled,” “grilled,” “roasted,” “steamed,” “braised,” and “poached” can help you determine low-fat options, while cooking descriptions like “crispy,” “breaded,” “buttered,” “batter-fried,” “pan-fried” and “creamed,” signify menu items to avoid.
Patients have already made a giant step in a positive direction by pursuing bariatric surgery. Why should they stop now when it comes to taking the steps they need to take to reach their goals? This begins with being unafraid to ask for what they want. From inquiring about how a certain meal is prepared to making special requests, bariatric patients who are empowered to be their own advocates are positioned for better results.
Many bariatric patients have found that carrying a surgeon-signed Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) card makes dining out a less expensive and more practical experience. If a restaurant won’t accept the WLS card, having half of a meal boxed up in advance can help diners avoid temptation.
Anyone who’s ever shopped for groceries while hungry knows that this is a recipe for over-buying (and over-eating). The same can be said of dining out after skipping meals and snacks. Patients can avoid setting themselves to fail by drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy snack, such as one of Achieve’s ready-to-eat food pouches, before going out to eat.
Packed with 20 grams of protein, Achieve is made with real, organic foods and can help diners feel satisfied — and therefore less likely to make poor choices when ordering and eating. Furthermore, bringing along Achieve to the restaurant ensues that you won’t have to go hungry if you can’t find an acceptable meal option on the menu.
Dining out is about much more than eating. Rather, it’s a complete experience. In addition to eating slowly, taking small bites and chewing well, commit to enjoying other aspects of the experience, such as socializing with your friends while your meal is prepared for you.
Certainly, life changes after bariatric surgery. Accepting and embracing these changes in all aspects of your life — including when it comes to dining out — can help patients make real and lasting behavioral shifts in order to best facilitate success.