Eating Out After Your Weight Loss Surgery
Healthy eating after your successful weight loss surgery is all about making good choices, watching portion sizes, and knowing what’s in the food you’re eating (watch out for sugar and fried foods!). Fortunately, more and more fast food establishments are making it easier to eat more healthfully.
Many fast-food restaurants are making nutritional information available in brochures or on their Web sites. (And as for the ones that don’t make this information available, what are they hiding? It’s up to you to patronize restaurants that will support your weight loss goals with healthy foods choices.)
In the meantime, you can go to your local bookstore or take to the Internet to find calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and fat contents of commonly consumed foods. Many of these books list chain restaurants by name and are small enough to keep in your purse or car so you have the information at hand.
Most surgeons have a card they can give you identifying you as someone who has had weight loss surgery. By showing the card to restaurant employees, you can order off the kid’s menu or receive smaller portions of entrées.
General tips for surviving the fast-food menu board
Now, what happens if you find yourself standing in line at a fast-food restaurant without nutrition information available? Here are some guidelines you should consider when making good fast-food choices:
- Pay attention to the descriptions of foods. Avoid foods that have the words deep fried, creamy, breaded, crispy, and similar words in their descriptions.
- The plainer you can eat your food, the better off you will be. Don’t be afraid to ask to have something prepared the way you want it.
- Have them leave off the “special sauce,” full-fat cheese, and mayo.
- Get your salad dressing on the side and dip your lettuce or fork into the dressing.
- Leave toppings like bacon, cheese, and croutons off salad.
- Drink water instead of high-calorie beverages like sweet tea, sodas, or juices. Remember not to drink with meals.
- Avoid the value meal. Face it, if it’s in front of you, you’ll be tempted to eat it. Even better, ask for the kid’s meal (the card we discussed above could come in handy). Or, of course, you can share something with someone else.
- There is nothing wrong with just eating the meat out of a sandwich. You can always discard one (or both) pieces of bread.
- Eat just until you are satisfied. One of the authors has a friend who pours salt (lots of salt!) on her food after she has reached the point where she is satisfied so she won’t eat anymore.
Good choices for a variety of restaurants
At some point, you’re going to find yourself at a restaurant wondering what you can eat. Here are some ideas of foods to look for that will be healthier and good for weight control.
A typical burger chain meal for most people is a hamburger, french fries, and a soda. Instead of the meal you might have once had, eat one of the following:
- Regular single patty burger
- Grilled chicken sandwich
- Veggie burger
- Grilled chicken salad with lowfat or fat-free dressing
- Egg on English muffin with lean ham or Canadian bacon
- Grilled chicken strips
What if you’re off to a fried chicken restaurant? Skip anything that has the words fried, original, or extra crispy in its description and go for
- Skinless chicken without the crunchy stuff
- Grilled chicken without the skin
- Grilled chicken salad with dressing on the side and without croutons, cheese, or bacon
- Side salad (not coleslaw — it’s loaded with fat and sugar!)
Quick Mexican restaurants
More and more quick Mexican restaurants are out there. You can make better choices when going to one of these by sticking to healthier basic dishes like rice, whole (not refried) or black beans, and salsa or pico. Watch out for the extras like sour cream, queso, and tortilla chips. Some of these restaurants advertise healthier menu options. Opt for:
- Veggie burritos
- Chicken soft tacos
- Rice and beans
- Lighter versions of menu items
Quick Italian restaurants
Quick Italian restaurants often serve pizza. Generally, you can have a healthier pizza meal by following these easy tips:
- Opt for thin crust instead of thick or stuffed.
- Ask for half the cheese and skip greasy meats like sausage and pepperoni. For more protein, ask for Canadian bacon.
- Ask for extra vegetables on the pizza.
- A side salad with dressing on the side is a great way to fill up on veggies and go lighter on the pizza.
- Or instead of greasy pizza, order pasta (preferably whole wheat) with a red (not creamy) sauce. If you indulge in meat sauce or a meatball, understand that these are often made of high-fat meat and may not agree with you.
Quick Asian restaurants
Quick Asian meals can be tricky even though they tend to be better sources of veggies. Ever noticed how shiny the dishes can be? That shine is fat, and it can wreak havoc with dumping syndrome. Look for dishes that are steamed, roasted, or broiled. Stick to the following options:
- Clear broth soups like egg drop, wonton, hot and sour, or miso, without the crunchy noodles.
- Steamed veggies and meat or seafood.
- Brown rice instead of fried or white rice.
- Clear sauces like soy sauce on the side.
- Try eating with chop sticks! It will slow you down so you can’t eat too much at one time.
While salads may seem like the perfect choice when eating out, be very careful! Some salads can pack on a whole day’s worth of calories. To stay on plan, really pay attention to the add-ons and follow these tips:
- Request lowfat dressing on the side and either dip your fork into the dressing and then pick up the lettuce or dip the lettuce lightly into the dressing. Vinaigrettes are usually a better choice than creamy dressings.
- Avoid croutons and bacon and add just a sprinkling of cheese.
- Add lean protein like chopped ham, egg, tofu, or beans. You will feel full longer.
- Add nutritious vegetables to the salad. Look for beets, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and green beans.