After weight loss surgery, life is going to be really different. You will more than likely not be going out to eat as much because you are getting used to your new lifestyle. This is a good best practice to put into place after bariatric surgery. It is better to give yourself time to adjust before being around a lot of food, especially if you are easily triggered to overeat by being at a restaurant. However, there will come a time when you will feel comfortable to visit a restaurant. The timing is different for everyone, but I do recommend that you fully transition to solids before you step foot in a restaurant. It can be really difficult to be around food when you are living off of liquids and puree foods. After you spend time adjusting to your new lifestyle, I think it is alright to go out to eat again, but there are things you need to remember now that you are a bariatric patient.
One of the most important things to remember after surgery is that you should not eat and drink at the same time. This takes a lot of time to get used to, especially if you liked to drink soda or other sugary drinks with your meals. I feel like when you are out to eat at a restaurant, it is harder to stick to that rule, especially since your waiter will ask you right away what you would like to drink. I learned to just order a water and not really touch it, unless I knew it would be a while before my meal arrived. Do not get in the habit or ordering drinks with your meal. For me personally, I have found that if I drink too soon before my meal, I am not able to eat as much and therefore I am more likely to get deficient since I am not eating a lot. I encourage you to really start practicing this new habit before surgery, so you can get used to it for when you start introducing solids back into your diet.
Another thing I would avoid when eating out is ordering appetizers before your meal. There literally is no point. You will get full off the appetizers and then be stuck with a full meal that you will not even touch. It might be tempting to have just a little taste of something before your meal arrives, but I promise you that you will be way too full and regret it. Some people decide to just order an appetizer since they are smaller portions, but you must be careful with the types of foods you are choosing. Do not go for the heavily fried foods and try to get something with protein. Another thing you could do to get a smaller portion is to order a kid’s meal. This is one of my favorite things to do because I feel like these days there are a lot more options. Some places will not let you order off the kid’s menu, which can be frustrating. However, there are some surgeons that provide bracelets or cards for bariatric patients which pretty much show that you had weight loss surgery and can only eat a small amount of food at a time. This will sometimes help with your case of ordering off the kid’s menu.
The best piece of advice that I can give you is to try to find the healthiest option on the menu. Do your research before you get to the restaurant to see what they have to offer. Most places will provide nutritional information on their websites so that can be extremely helpful. I have also learned to ask for a box right when my meal arrives. This helps with the awkwardness when the waiter comes to your table and wonders why you have barely touched your meal. By putting it in the box, they have no idea how much you ate. It always used to bug me when people asked if anything was wrong with my meal just because I could not eat a lot of it. It can also be helpful to just share a meal with someone. I feel like I have saved a lot of money by ordering this way because again, we really do not eat that much at a time and eating out can get expensive if you are not careful.
Going to restaurants after weight loss surgery does not need to be stressful. I do not think we need to fully deprive ourselves after surgery, because it will only backfire. However, you must be smart and make healthy decisions to ensure you stay on track. Give yourself time to adjust to your new lifestyle before introducing restaurants back into your life, but make sure you enjoy yourself within limits. Hold yourself accountable and be honest with yourself. If you are not ready to be around that much food, that is just fine. Know yourself and make sure you are setting yourself up for success after this surgery. You have put a lot of time and effort into this journey, so do not stop fighting now!