Summer is here, and for many this is the season when a lot of time will be spent dining out. However, this can be challenging after weight-loss surgery and many people avoid going to restaurants to prevent overeating or eating the wrong foods.
But since dining out is a normal part of life for many, we recommend that you not avoid eating out but instead educate yourself and choose your foods wisely. The following strategies will assist you in making the healthiest food decisions so you can leave the restaurant feeling light and satisfied rather than heavy and guilty.
• Check the calories of every meal. Most restaurants can provide you with the calorie content of every dish they serve.
• Ask that bread and butter not be served at your table.
• Choose a dish with lean protein such as fish, chicken or turkey.
• Choose a side green salad or steamed or grilled vegetables with a side of complex carbohydrate such as yams or whole wheat pasta.
• Ask how the food is prepared and avoid items that are fried, pan-fried or breaded.
• Choose foods that are baked, broiled, grilled or roasted and be sure to keep condiments next to you to moisten the food well; i.e., marinara or tomato sauce, salsa, low-fat gravy.
• Share your main course or request a to-go container with your food and, before you begin eating, portion out your food to approximately: 3 oz protein, ½ cup vegetables, and ¼ cup complex carbohydrate. If this portion is too much, eat until you feel satisfied and add the leftovers to your to-go container. Finish ALL of your protein first before eating your vegetables and save the starch for last.
• Put only dime-sized pieces in your mouth. Eat slowly and chew your food to an apple sauce or liquid consistency before swallowing. To help you accomplish this, it is best to set your utensils down between bites.
• Don’t drink with your meals since liquids can either fill you up faster so you won’t be able to eat enough protein or may push food down and allow you to fit more food in your pouch. It is best to avoid liquids 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a meal.
• Prior to choosing the restaurant it is always a good idea to look up the menu and nutrition facts on-line.
I hope that you find these strategies helpful and that you enjoy your next dining-out experience. And remember, it is best to do everything in moderation. Have a great summer!
Yours In Health,
Janet Kovler, RDN, CDE
ORMC Bariatric Surgery Program Manager