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Restaurants and my Bariatric Pouch – Bariatric Edition

Restaurants and my bariatric pouch
 
I guess that nobody eats out at restaurants post-bariatric surgery. (ya right). Let’s discuss it and see if we can come up with a good plan when visiting restaurants.
 
As I am writing this, it is the end of May 2021 and restaurants/ patios are not currently open due to Covid. Ya, you read that right – May 2021 (not May 2020). I am currently in Quebec, Canada.
 
We are going to open the patios soon and guess where I will be headed the day that happens ….. straight to a patio. I want to support local restaurants but I also MISS THEM SO MUCH!
 
Although I don’t go out to eat all the time, I do enjoy a good restaurant.
 
Now, let’s face it. Restaurants do not create their beautiful dishes to keep us healthy. They focus on making food taste GREAT. If we want to eat healthily, I think we are much safer at home but … sometimes restaurants happen, so let’s figure out how to eat at one and not bust all the bariatric rules all at once.
 
In the very beginning, visiting a restaurant is going to be a bit complicated because you will have a lot of restrictions. Don’t think that you will be able to order a 1/2 portion of your favorite dish. It doesn’t work that way. You will need to scour the menu for foods that are soft and friendly. They probably won’t be the healthiest options.
 
If you haven’t told the people joining you at the restaurant that you have had bariatric surgery, now would be the time to do so. If you don’t want them to know you’ve had bariatric surgery, then you will need to arrive with a plan.
 
 

“Hey, Karen, what’s up? why are you not eating”?

“Hey Ken, I am having some tummy issues the past few days, so I am going to take it easy with the food”.

 

“Hey, Karen, what’s up? why are you not eating”?

“Well Ken, I am taking medications for a stomach issue, and I have to take those meds with food, so I had to eat before I came to meet you”.

 

“Hey, Karen, what’s up? why are you not eating”?

“Hey Ken, (INSERT EXCUSE HERE)”.

 

…. you get the gist. Go armed with an excuse if you don’t feel up to explaining your recent surgery.
 
Now, if you are meeting people and they know you had surgery two weeks ago, there are a few options in most restaurants.
 
I always say, check the menu before choosing a place to eat at. Do they have soup on that menu? Soup will be your BEST FRIEND for the first few weeks post-op.
 
Mexican restaurants make the best soups. Think “black bean soup”, “chicken soup”, “vegetable soup”. They also have re-fried beans on the menu. Creamy mashed potatoes are not the best option but if you are stuck, you will find some on almost all restaurant menus.
 
As time goes by, and you are deep into your bariatric journey, you will be able to expand your repertoire of restaurant-friendly dishes. Portion sizes are completely another issue. The portions will always be too big for you to finish so don’t even think of ordering anything without a “doggy bag”. You will need it.
 
Ask questions. Can you order a half portion? Is there anything healthy” ish” on the children’s menu and can you order off it? What about the appetizer menu? Is there anything on it that you like and would work for you?
 
Who says you need to order a main dish? Appetizers are my favorites. They are a smaller portion, and I don’t feel overwhelmed with a huge plate of food.
 
What about when you are a year post-op – or 10 years post-op? Well, at that stage, your bariatric pouch will have stretched a bit and it won’t be so complicated at restaurants, but I always suggest checking the menu before you arrive. Combine a protein with veg and you are on the right track.
 
What about a chicken/veg soup, chicken salad, shrimp with sauteed vegetables, grilled chicken with a side salad, a small steak with green beans and asparagus, baked salmon with creamed cauliflower, grilled fish with some fresh cherry tomatoes.
 
Your best bet will be to arrive at your restaurant destination with your plan in place. Know what you want to order before you even sit down. That will eliminate the urge to order the burger/fry combo. You know what you want, get it ordered, and focus on the most important part of the meal – your friends, and family, and the great conversation. Don’t forget, no kitchen to clean up or dishes to do (YAY).
 
Tell me, how do you order at restaurants post-bariatric surgery? I would love you to email me back with your ideas.
 
Healthy Hugs,

 

 

Sheri Burke RHN
 

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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