Five Top Tips to Navigate Eating Out Following Weight Loss Surgery

Eating out after weight loss surgery does not need to be avoided. You can still enjoy these special moments with friends and family – this is a normal part of our social lives. However, the experience will be a little different to how you may have dined out prior to your surgery.

For some people it can feel a little daunting. Where should you dine? What should you order? What do you say to friends or restaurant staff? How much should you eat?

If the thought of eating out makes you feel a little nervous, the following tips may help to make the process a little less daunting and easier than you may think.

Tip 1: Where should you dine?

Before choosing where to go, check if you can find a menu online. You might find this on the website of the particular café or restaurant, on their social media pages, or even a food review page such as Zomato. Have a close look at what is available to avoid the need to make a rushed decision. Make a note of what you would like to order for when you get to the restaurant. If you have any questions about the menu, you could call in advance to ask questions over the phone, particularly if you feel uncomfortable asking in a social setting.

Look for restaurants that encourage shared dishes such as tapas, mezze or Asian, so that you can serve yourself a little of what you like. 

Tip 2: What to order?

To help keep your portion sizes in check, order a smaller size meal. This might be an entree or starter meal. If you order a main course, share this with a friend, or ask to take your leftovers home. These leftovers can then be used for lunch or dinner the next day.

If you are sharing plates among your group, serve an amount onto your plate that you are happy to eat before you start eating. This will help you keep track of how much you are eating and avoid becoming uncomfortably full. Be mindful of your choices whilst still allowing yourself to enjoy a special meal out.

Tip 3: What to say to friends or restaurant staff

Some practices offer weight loss surgery cards which explain that you have had surgery and that you require a smaller meal. Ask your dietitian or surgeon if this is available to you. Most places are happy to accommodate, and this can be a no fuss way of explaining your situation.

Choosing a share plate style restaurant can also be helpful if you are dining with people who are unaware of your weight loss surgery. They may be less inclined to notice your small portion size when busily chatting. If someone tries to encourage you to eat more just politely thank them, let them know you are full and leave it at that.

Tip 4: How much should you eat?

Your portion sizes shouldn’t change when eating out and you should still be mindful to stop when you feel satisfied. Allow your plate taken away by the wait staff when you are finished. This will help you to avoid grazing on your leftovers as time goes by.

As a wise client of ours once said, “I pay for a satisfied stomach, not an empty plate.”

Tip 5: Don’t forget about your eating technique!

It can be easy to get a little distracted by conversation when eating socially, so be sure to eat slowly and chew your food well. Try your best to keep your food and fluid separated too. This will avoid you overeating or feeling uncomfortable, which can make your experience less enjoyable.

Most importantly, have fun! You are socialising with friends and loved ones so enjoy their company and the time spent together.

Thanks to our NFWLS dietitian Jennifer, for sharing her advice on this topic.

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Eating Out After Weight Loss Surgery