Tips for Healthy Eating When Dining Out

Eating at home is typically the healthiest choice for dieters and post-bariatric patients, especially if you take the time to meal plan. However, eating out can have a place in a healthy lifestyle. Dining out is a way for us to celebrate and enjoy time with friends and family. Whether you are getting take-out to save time during a busy week, or having a night out for a special occasion, our healthy eating tips will enable you to enjoy yourself while maintaining your commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

Can I Eat at Restaurants After Bariatric Surgery?

Yes! For many bariatric patients, part of the decision to have weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, was to enable them to live a happier, more active lifestyle. You may want to avoid eating out in the first several weeks after surgery, when it is very important to follow your doctor’s liquid and soft food diet instructions. But long-term, you don’t have to miss out on outings with friends and family because you’re following a healthy diet. You just need some guidelines to make smart choices when eating out.

Ten Ways To Maintain Your Diet When Dining Out

  1. Plan Ahead If you know you will be eating out, check the restaurant’s website for a menu. Check calorie counts if they are available and have one or two things you may like to order in mind. Scoping out healthy options ahead of time can help you avoid a last minute decision that you may regret.
  2. Skip Liquid Calories While hydration is important, bariatric patients should avoid drinking too much around meal time. When you do get a beverage, stick to water or unsweetened tea. Juices, sodas, alcohol, and flavored coffees are high in calories and add little or no nutrition.
  3. Get Familiar With Cooking Terms Your best choices will usually be items that are steamed, grilled, broiled, poached, or baked. Avoid foods that are battered, breaded, fried, or buttered. Other words to watch out for are tempura or crispy, which usually mean fried, and smothered or au gratin, which is usually cheese or sauce covered.
  4. Pick Smaller Portions Portion sizes at some restaurants may be more calories than you should eat in an entire day! Select an appetizer or side dish as your meal. If you do opt for an entree, ask if they can pre-pack half in a to-go box.
  5. Focus on Lean Protein Protein is important for a healthy post-bariatric diet. Chicken or fish that is simply prepared is typically your best bet. Eggs or beans can also be a good source of protein. Ask that any sauces be kept on the side.
  6. Fill Up on Fresh Veggies A salad with grilled chicken or fish is a favorite meal of many healthful eaters. You can also opt for fresh fruit, steamed vegetables, and plain baked sweet potato as a source of complex “good” carbohydrates.
  7. Decline Desserts If other people in your dining party plan to indulge in dessert, consider ordering an unsweetened herbal tea to sip on while they eat. Carrying sugar free mints with you to have when you’re done eating can help you resist ordering dessert for yourself.
  8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Substitutions Many restaurants will put sandwich ingredients in a salad instead of on bread, or substitute fresh or steamed spinach for the pasta or rice in an entree.
  9. Become a Regular Dining at new restaurants can be exciting, but it can also be stressful when you have to ask questions to figure out how foods are prepared. If you eat out often, having one or two restaurants where you know exactly what you like to order can help you stick to your healthy eating plan.
  10. Have a Backup Plan Not all restaurant trips are planned, and sometimes you may end up at a spot that doesn’t have many healthy options. Keeping a packet of protein powder on hand that can be mixed with water or lowfat milk can help you stay satiated when out and about.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about life after weight loss surgery, we’re here to help. Contact DFW Bariatric Institute in Colleyville, Fisco, or Rockwall, Texas.