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Written by Morgan Schaack, RD, LD
on January 27, 2020

After bariatric surgery, patients must make changes to their eating habits to avoid regain. This is to include eating fewer packaged and restaurant meals, which are traditionally high in calories and carbohydrates. However, eating out is inevitable and is often a focal point of social events with friends and family. So how can you avoid regain while also enjoying the meals prepared at restaurant chains?

As long as you continue to focus on making healthy choices, eating at restaurants is viable. However, I would not recommend doing so regularly as even healthy options may be high in calories. So, let's dive into the pro tips I have for you when it comes to ordering off a restaurant menu.

Eating Fast Food

Let's face it, fast food restaurants, although unhealthy, are convenient. And although they are commonly associated with contributing to the rise in obesity—a place you likely do not want to go back to—there will be times when you may find yourself in that drive-thru line. So how can you prepare yourself to make the best possible choice when it comes to your health? For starters, aim for a grilled option instead of fried. Also, you will want to choose the chicken over beef as chicken is lower in fat and cholesterol. And be sure to sub your french fries for a salad option (most fast-food chains have a green side option nowadays). Finally, if you order a sandwich, you can ask for extra lettuce and no bun to limit your carb intake.

Eating at a Restaurant

When your friends are deciding on where to go, don't be overwhelmed about what you can and can't eat there. It doesn't matter so much where you go as to what you order. Every restaurant has options that you can make low carb so you can continue to adhere to your bariatric meal plan. So here are some tips to make sure you don't sabotage your healthy eating.

myfitnesspal-data-breach-150-million-users1. Start with a plan

If you know in advance the restaurant you are going to, check out their menu online and decide what you want to get. This will also allow you time to analyze the options and check their nutrition facts. If you don't know where you are going in advance, mentally prepare yourself to find the healthiest option. Don't let fall off the wagon (or hop on the bandwagon) when you find out everyone else is ordering the fried chicken and mashed potato plate.

2. Make Substitutes

Often when you go out to restaurants, the "healthy" options may not come with the healthiest sides. Don't be afraid to make changes. You are paying for this meal so you can be a diva about it! Substitute the high carb and starchy sides for some greens. Ask for an extra serving of protein or veggies instead of potatoes. Make the appropriate changes to ensure you are adhering to your bariatric eating plan.

3. Ask for it on the side 

salad-with-dressing-on-the-sideAn easy way to make your healthy meal skyrocket in calories and carbs is by allowing the restaurant to drench it in dressings/condiments. When you are trying to eat healthy, it is best to avoid condiments all together as 1 tablespoon of ketchup has about 4 grams of sugar in it.

Yet, if you can not / do not want to avoid the condiments all together, ask for it on the side (especially when ordering a salad). It is also important to mention that you will want to choose the healthier dressings even if that means....you guessed it—making a substitute! 

4. Pick and Choose Your Meal Friends

We all have those friends who love to eat unhealthy food. You may have been one of those friends in the past. Being surrounded by people who love to eat (I'm just going to come out and say it) JUNK does not help your mission to eat healthy. Watching your friend indulge in that cheesy pizza will only make it harder for you to want to eat that salad. Therefore, it's time that you be picky with who you go out to eat with and who you avoid sitting across the table from.

5. Avoid Liquid Calories 

I would like to think that this tip comes as a "no-brainer" but I had to mention it anyways. The fastest route back to obesity is to drink your calories as they are empty calories and filled with carbs. After bariatric surgery and to avoid regain, you do not want to drink your calories so be sure to order the diet soda options and unsweet tea. Better yet, just go for a tall glass of H20

6. Share Your Meal

Restaurant portions nowadays are way larger than we should and, oftentimes, can eat. To avoid over eating, ask if someone wants to split a meal. If no one at the table wants to share, than ask the waiter to go ahead and box up half the meal before bringing it out to you. This will help to ensure you do not overindulge in the meal. Remember, just because it is healthy doesn't mean you need to eat it all—especially after bariatric surgery as this can cause stomach discomfort, vomiting, or even diarrhea. 

Conclusion 

As you can see, eating out after bariatric surgery is feasible it just requires a little more effort and some changes. If you adhere to these tips every time you go out to eat, we guarantee you that it will become easier to make healthier choices. Don't let a fun night out with family and friends mess up you healthy eating lifestyle.

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