Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have home-cooked meals every single night with clean, fresh ingredients? Although this is a goal and hopefully something that you have integrated into your lifestyle, there are undoubtedly going to be times when you may eat in a restaurant or in someone else’s home. Wait until at least three months after surgery before you venture into dining away from home if at all possible—you will have much better insight about which foods you can tolerate and which ones upset your new pouch.
Here are a few tips to help you follow your weight-loss plan when you are out and about:
Ask for what you need. Don’t forget, you are paying for the meal and the service when you go out to eat. Ask your server as many questions as needed to make sure you know exactly how your meal is prepared. Let them know you are on a special diet. Some hospitals will provide patients with a special card to hand to the server to make it more discreet.
Boiled, broiled, steamed, poached, and grilled are safe bets, and ask twice about sauces. Fried foods are off limits. Period. Make sure you verify that extra butter or oil is not put on your proteins during or after cooking. We know that eating moist food post-op is best tolerated, but in a restaurant most sauces are either high in fat (look for words like cream, Alfredo, scampi, hollandaise) or high in sugar (sweet and sour, hoisin) and should be avoided to prevent illness or consumption of extra calories. Broth-based sauces and marinaras are the safest bets.
Investigate ahead of time. Before you dine out or eat at another person’s home, get the menu ahead of time. Most restaurants make their menus available online. That way you know how to make a good choice upon arrival, or you can prepare a meal and eat before you go.
Order à la carte or bring something you can have. It is likely you won’t be able to eat more than a few bites of food, so try ordering just a plain chicken breast, shrimp cocktail, baked fish, or individual flatbread pizza with vegetable toppings. When dining at a friend’s or family member’s house, review your recipe collection (including this book) to find something that’s a crowd pleaser and bring it for everyone to enjoy. That way, if you can’t dine on the items your host serves, you’ll know you have a safe item to fill you up.
Having good manners doesn’t mean you have to overeat. Order a to-go box immediately upon getting your food at the restaurant to avoid the server constantly asking if “something was wrong with the meal” as to why you didn’t eat much—plus you don’t want a huge plate of leftovers staring you in the face. At a friend’s or family member’s home, ask for a to-go plate if they insist you taste the leftovers or dessert. Then you can decide whether to throw it out once you get home, give it to someone else in the family, or eat it later. Being polite doesn’t mean you have to stuff yourself with foods you can’t eat or that will push you over your calorie limit.