People would think that after having undergone gastric sleeve, one would not be able to go back to an enjoyable dining experience or even relish eating out. Yes, there should be adjustments or modifications made to diet or meal choices but this is not supposed to hurt your lifestyle or socialization which includes dining out with family and friends like routine.
Eating out sure has been part of practically everyone’s lifestyle and is even squeezed in between busy schedules. Do note that even with gastric sleeve, you can still create great memories while dining out with people who matters. Beat the myths and make sure that you have fun while eating out even with gastric sleeve by following these helpful tips:
1. Carry around your WLS card. Make sure that you have with you your Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) card signed by your physician that informs restaurants that you underwent a weight loss procedure like gastric sleeve that has minimized your stomach capacity and that you need to order smaller meals than usual servings. You can discreetly hand your card to the waiter while placing your orders. Ask for recommendations on healthier meal choices. Restaurants give discounts with patients who present their WLS card upon ordering meals. A number of restaurants accept these meal cards which have actually been around since 1990’s. Even buffet restaurants with eat-all-you-can concepts offer discounts for patients with WLS card.
2. Check out restaurant menu online before heading out. Several restaurants have their menus available online on websites or fan pages that will help you sort out meals before you eat out. It certainly helps to plan ahead and check out the healthy meal options which could even have detailed nutritional information to guide customers which one to pick among the roster of delicious eats. This will help you decide and order efficiently when you decide to dine out with family and friends. More so, this also helps you keep track of your budget.
3. Be aware of “Family-style Concepts” in meals. It’s alright to go for family-style or shared concepts in meals where there are different meals served in large platters which is suitable for groups; as long as you know how to manage and control your consumption. It would be helpful to ask for an entrée plate and keep your food choices at a minimum and fill the entrée plate once.
4. Focus on lean proteins. When dining out, try to focus on ordering meals that are high in protein such as chicken, fish, or turkey; which is necessary in order to meet your daily nutritional requirements especially for patients who have underwent gastric sleeve.
5. Avoid empty calories. DO away or minimize drinking alcoholic beverages or softdrinks which will provide no nourishment and are ridiculously high in sugar and fat content.
6. Refuse complimentary bread and ask the sauce on the side. Most restaurants offer complimentary bread before the main course. Politely ask the waiter that it’s okay not to serve bread on the table. Avoid butter too. Also, keep it low on the dressings or sauce. One way to do it is to ask the waiter to place the dressing on the side so you can easily control the amount you consume. Condiments are beefed up with hidden calories that you won’t need right now especially after undergoing gastric sleeve.
7. To-go meals. If you have leftovers and can’t finish your platter – no pressure. Don’t allow yourself to feel obligated to conform and finish up your meal especially if you have been given a large portion. You can share it with a companion or you could package the rest of it for you to take away and eat at a later time. You can eat the rest of it at home as a midnight snack prepared in small servings.
8. Ask questions. Probe the waiter and don’t be intimidated to ask about how your food was prepared (go for food that is baked, broiled, roasted, or grilled rather than fried); or even the basic ingredients. More people are now becoming health conscious which has prompted most restaurants to be aware of the ingredients they pop into the pan and serve only the good stuff or healthy components stuffed with protein which is beneficial for people who underwent bariatric surgery or gastric sleeve.
9. Eat slowly. Eating out is not a race so it is best to eat at a slow pace and carefully chew and break down your food to liquid consistency so it won’t disturb or irritate your stomach lining. Great conversations with colleagues, friends, and family would help you steer clear from overeating and hurting your diet. Most dieters and those who underwent gastric sleeve opt for appetizers, salads, or soups rather than ordering main entrees which would not have the ideal or recommended servings right for your tummy space.
10. Share meals with a friend. It’s really hard to avoid eating out especially if it has been a part of your lifestyle; but you can always stick to a diet plan by sharing meals with a buddy. You can also split the bill; which may prove to be fun and cost-effective.
While eating out after having undergone gastric sleeve could prove to be a toll for patients, you can beat the stress by planning ahead and focusing on enjoyment of the dining experience without neglecting diet restrictions. Going out to dine has always been customary and even habitual for a lot of people because apart from the fun, entertainment, and gastronomic experience, this is also convenient for people who are always on the go.
It’s really hard to avoid and ignore restaurant doors especially if you happen to go hungry while traveling or on your way to work; but you can always make the necessary modifications on your food choices and opt for healthy alternatives so you can still lavish and splurge on dining out and keeping abreast with social connections.
For more on dieting and eating with the gastric sleeve surgery, check out our Gastric Sleeve Diet articles.