After bariatric surgery, numerous changes are made to eating habits in order to improve quality of life, maintain goal weight and consume sufficient nutrients.
This does not mean that you cannot partake in the simple pleasure of eating at a restaurant.
You can still eat out after gastric sleeve surgery to enjoy the company of your loved ones over a delicious meal.
Bariatric sleeve patients need to keep dietary guidelines in mind when eating at their favorite restaurants to make the healthiest choice.
In this article we talk about what foods to choose at restaurants and how it should be cooked. You will find all kinds of helpful tips for eating at restaurants while still following your bariatric diet for gastric sleeve patients.
When Can You Start Eating Out?
Everyone has their own timeline for food phases after bariatric surgery. Typically, for the first two weeks after gastric sleeve surgery, you will consume full liquids. During gastric sleeve diet weeks 3 and 4, you may be transitioned to soft foods. Solid foods come further down the line.
After 6 weeks, solid foods may be safely added back into the diet. A normal eating routine can take up to 8 weeks and longer for some individuals depending on tolerance after surgery.
When you are comfortably consuming solid foods again, you may start eating out after gastric sleeve surgery. However, portions should still be limited. Be mindful of your eating at bariatric-friendly restaurants.
What Should You Eat?
Your post-bariatric surgery diet serves an important purpose. Following the right dietary guidelines is crucial for recovery and weight maintenance.
Sticking to your gastric sleeve food list will allow you to eat balanced meals that are rich in nutrients, while still limiting calorie intake.
After bariatric surgery, patients need to consume smaller portions of food and meet their daily protein intake. Some foods, like fatty foods or foods that are difficult to digest, are best avoided.
Bariatric sleeve patients should maintain a balanced diet that contains all of the necessary proteins, essential fatty acids, and fiber. Eating high-protein foods for gastric sleeve patients is very important.
Nutrient-rich meals should be eaten instead of calorie-dense meals. Bariatric vitamins and bariatric protein meal replacement shakes can also help you maintain nourishment and meet daily nutrient goals.
Healthy Food Options
- Lean proteins such as fish, chicken, tofu, and eggs
- Low-fat dairy products like low-fat cheese and low-fat plain yogurt
- Greens and veggies like broccoli and zucchini
- Fruits that are lower in sugar, like melon and berries
- Whole-grains and low glycemic index options like lentils, chickpeas, quinoa
Healthy Side Dishes
Substitute vegetables if a side dish is high in starch like fries, potatoes, rice or pasta. In addition to being a better food choice, vegetables are cheaper and more nutritious.
Request for proteins and veggies to be roasted, boiled, steamed, baked or grilled. Choose these options over fried or deep-fried.
Salsa, vinegar, and mustard are lower in fat and calories than most creamy and buttery options. You can opt for dressings and condiments on the side. Choosing tomato-based sauces over cream sauces is also a helpful tip.
Foods to Avoid
Sugary, high-calorie foods and beverages should be avoided. The following foods should be avoided or limited in a healthful bariatric diet:
- Fatty meats and tough red meats
- Refined and breaded meat products
- Greasy foods that are deep-fried or crusted
- Foods that are high in fat like full cream yogurt and milkshakes
- Creamy sauces
- Foods high in sugar like pastries, chocolates, and most cereals
- High starch foods like potatoes, rice, white bread, and pasta
- Sugary, carbonated drinks like soda
Tips for Eating at Restaurants
Prepare Before You Leave the House
When choosing a place to eat, choose a restaurant that has suitable options for your diet. Most restaurant menus can be found online.
Take a look at the menu and choose an option beforehand. Pick foods you are more familiar with to avoid any potential intolerances.
Learn Portion Control
You can limit your calorie intake and avoid overeating with a few helpful tips to control your portions. This will also help avoid bloating and nausea.
You do not need to order from the main section to have a delicious meal. Starters are great for reducing portion size.
Many restaurants also offer half-portions of some meals for lunch and dinner. This is just as yummy and would save you some money.
Some restaurants will allow you to order smaller portions of a larger meal for a discounted price when you show your weight loss surgery card.
If you want to order from the main section, you can ask for a to-go box right away and save a portion of your meal for another day.
Share Your Meal
To reduce portion size, you can share a meal with someone. You can also opt for appetizers when you want to eat smaller portions.
Dressings and Starters
Ask for dressing and sauces on the side. Avoid grabbing free starters, like bread-sticks and salads before your meal.
Mindful eating means you are paying attention to what you are consuming. This increases awareness and helps you to experience your food. You can do this by taking small bites, eating slowly and chewing well.
Choose Your Beverage Carefully
Water and sugar-free drinks are the best options post-bariatric surgery.
Avoid drinking your calories in the form of alcohol, soft drinks, juices and sports drinks. Sugary beverages are high in calories and lack nutrition the body requires.
Caffeine is typically avoided for a period of time after bariatric surgery. If you would like to drink coffee, choose decaf beverages until further instruction is provided by your healthcare provider. Low-fat milk or milk alternatives and protein shakes may be consumed.
Carbonation after gastric sleeve surgery is not recommended until three months or longer after surgery. Carbonated beverages can cause an upset stomach, nausea, and gas if you drink them before your stomach is ready.
Some side effects can also be seen if you eat and drink fluids at the same time. It is recommended to consume liquids between meals, not with. Don't drink anything until 30 minutes after a meal.
Be Cautious With Alcohol
Consult your doctor before consuming alcoholic beverages after gastric sleeve surgery.
Drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery should be approached with caution because your alcohol tolerance will be lower than before.
Keep in mind, most alcoholic beverages contain high sugar and high calories with no nutritional value.
What to Look For on the Menu
Look for restaurants with a menu that allows you to customize meals or choose from a variety of sides. Swapping a side of fries for veggies is always a great idea.
If you have the choice, opt for options that are low-fat, heart-healthy, lite, fat-free, or sugar-free. Fattening descriptions like fried, breaded, cooked in fats/oils, and deep-fried, are best avoided.
Be wary of how your proteins are prepared. Meats that are grilled or baked are healthier than meats that are fried or smothered in fats.
How Can I Eat my Favorite Foods?
You should never restrict specific food groups unless it’s medically necessary for food allergies, intolerances, or medical conditions. Restricting food groups is unrealistic for long periods of time. It can result in yo-yo dieting and binge eating that can limit your long-term weight management.
Eating from a variety of food groups allows you to consume the essential nutrients needed to survive. The idea is to focus on portion control and moderation when eating your favorite foods.
If you feel you need to eat pizza in order to reduce cravings, only allow yourself to consume one small slice.
Look for thin crust with toppings like veggies and chicken.
Remember, you should be choosing a menu item that is centered around protein.
If you are craving pasta, only order it as a side. Choose whole-wheat options and swap creamy sauces for tomato-based sauces.
Keep in mind, gastric sleeve and acid reflux can be a complication and should also be a factor when choosing meal options.
Heavily seasoned or spicy foods may not be well tolerated after bariatric surgery. Keep that in mind when craving certain food options.
Try a taco salad without the crunchy taco bowl. Avoid taking advantage of free chips and salsa.
If you are really in a rush, looking for convenience foods, it can be tempting to fall into old habits.
Many fast-food chains do offer options like salads and lean proteins. Fatty and deep-fried foods should be avoided. Try not to make this a regular thing.
If you are having trouble with time management, work on preparing meals and snacks ahead of time. You can even find convenient, on the go options that focus on protein, like bariatric protein meal replacements.
Choose sushi rolls made without rice or you can order sashimi. Avoid sushi with tempura, sweet sauce, mayo, cream cheese, and extra crunch.
You may also want to try making your own stir-fry with protein, like chicken, and vegetables with low sodium soy sauce.
What are Some Bariatric-Friendly Restaurants?
By following our tips you can still dine and socialize at your favorite spots. Bariatric restaurants allow you to enjoy the experience of dining out. Most will list nutrition facts for all meal choices online to help with your healthful decision making.
The following are some of the best restaurants for bariatric patients that offer healthy options:
- Panera Bread
- Olive Garden
- Texas Road House
Remember, these restaurants are not everyday options. Cooking your own food ensures that it is fresh, you know what is going into it, and you choose the method of cooking.
There are bariatric portion plates to look into if you are struggling with eating at home. You can also utilize your bariatric resources, like a dietitian or healthcare team for tips to staying on track after bariatric surgery.
Consider Reading These Articles:
- The Truth About Carbohydrates After Bariatric Surgery
- Bariatric Surgery: Issues to Consider
- Drinking Alcohol After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Bariatric Diet
- How Much Weight Do You Lose After Gastric Bypass
- Bariatric Surgery Benefits
- Bariatric Surgery Explained
- Keys to Success After Bariatric Surgery
- Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency
- 6 Months After Gastric Sleeve
- Healthy Eating After Bariatric Surgery: 5 Tips
- Staying Motivated After Bariatric Surgery
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.