Tips for Dining Out and Events
Embarking on a bariatric surgery journey can bring about significant changes in your lifestyle, including how you approach social situations involving food. Dining out at restaurants or attending events with friends and family may require some adjustments post-surgery. In this blog, we will explore helpful tips to navigate these social situations with confidence and make healthier choices while still enjoying the experience.
Plan Ahead and Research: Before heading out to a restaurant or event, it’s beneficial to plan ahead. Many establishments now provide menus online, allowing you to review options in advance. Look for dishes that align with your post-surgery dietary guidelines, focusing on protein-rich, low-fat, and nutrient-dense options. If necessary, call ahead to inquire about special accommodations or menu modifications.
Communicate Your Needs: Don’t hesitate to communicate your dietary requirements to the restaurant staff or event organizers. Inform them about your bariatric surgery and any specific dietary restrictions you may have. Most establishments are willing to accommodate special requests, such as smaller portion sizes, substitutions, or modifications to suit your needs.
Opt for Smaller Portions: After bariatric surgery, your stomach’s capacity is significantly reduced. Therefore, opting for smaller portions is crucial. Many restaurants offer appetizer-sized or half-portions, which can be more suitable for your post-surgery needs. You can also consider sharing a meal with a friend or requesting a to-go box to save leftovers for later.
Mindful Eating and Slow Pacing: Practice mindful eating techniques when dining out or attending events. Slow down and savor each bite, focusing on the flavors and textures of your meal. Take small bites, chew thoroughly, and allow yourself time to feel satisfied. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register fullness, so pacing yourself is essential to prevent overeating.
Choose Protein as a Priority: Protein is an essential component of your post-bariatric surgery diet. When dining out, prioritize protein-rich options. Look for lean meats, seafood, tofu, or legumes. Grilled, baked, or broiled preparations are often healthier choices compared to fried or breaded alternatives. Don’t forget to include some vegetables or salad to round out your meal.
Be Mindful of Liquid Calories: While you may be vigilant about your food choices, it’s important to be mindful of liquid calories as well. Beverages such as sugary sodas, juices, and alcoholic drinks can add unnecessary calories and hinder your weight loss goals. Opt for water, unsweetened tea, or other sugar-free options to stay hydrated without excess calories.
Seek Support from Loved Ones: Your friends and family can play a significant role in supporting your bariatric journey. Inform them about your dietary needs and goals, and encourage their understanding and support. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network can make social situations more enjoyable and less challenging.
Navigating social situations after bariatric surgery may initially seem daunting, but with a little planning and mindfulness, it can become an empowering experience. By researching menus in advance, communicating your needs, choosing appropriate portions, and prioritizing protein-rich options, you can enjoy dining out and attending events while staying on track with your post-surgery goals. Remember, seeking support from your loved ones and practicing mindful eating are key elements to a successful and enjoyable social experience.
About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.
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