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Published on March 07, 2019

woman smiling at camera dining with friends

Guide for Dining Out After Bariatric Surgery

By Andrea Hanson, MS, RDN, LN, Avera Bariatric Dietitian

Dining out is meant to be a stress-free time for friends, family, fun and conversation.

After bariatric surgery, it can be a time filled with stress and anxiety. The post-surgery lifestyle can make it difficult to order, but don’t just quit. Dining out doesn’t have to be this way! You can still enjoy the celebration using these ideas:

  • Avoid skipping a meal before dining out. You might think this will make you hungrier so you can eat more. Trust me, it doesn’t work. In fact, skipping meals in preparation for a big meal makes your body less able to regulate blood sugars, and it can cause you to go out so hungry, your risk of over-eating goes way up.
  • Ask the waitress for a take-out box when your food is served. Almost all restaurants serve excessively large portions, so pack (at least) half of it into a to-go box before you start to dig in. That way, you don’t feel pressured to eat the whole plate of food and you have leftovers to enjoy the next day.
  • Try choosing more sensible sides. Instead of fries or potato chips, get the side salad or steamed vegetables. Many restaurants have these options; you just have to ask.
  • Pick smaller portions. Because bariatric surgery significantly decreases the amount of food you can eat, consider an appetizer or something from the children’s menu. It could be a “great fit” for your appetite.
  • Know how your food is prepared. Avoid fried dishes; choose grilled, baked, roasted, broiled, steamed or stir-fried choices. Poached items are another good option. If the preparation method isn’t mentioned, ask your server how they make it.

No matter where you go out for a meal, always remember to enjoy your food mindfully, eat it slowly and engage yourself with the sights, smells and texture of your dish as you enjoy it.

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