• Eating Out After Weight Loss Surgery

    Making Healthy Choices On-the-Go

    The following is adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    Eating at a restaurant doesn’t have to sabotage a healthy diet. Use smart eating strategies: plan ahead, consider the menu and choose foods carefully to keep you on your plan.

    Preparing

    • Have a plan. Eat a light dinner if you ate a big lunch that day. Or, if you know ahead of time that you're going to a restaurant, cut back on calories during other meals that day.
    • Knowing menu terms and cooking basics ahead of time makes ordering easier, especially if you need to control calories, fat and other nutrients.
    • Foods that are steamed, broiled, baked or grilled are healthier than fried and sautéed items. Avoid foods described as: crispy, creamy, rich or au gratin.

    Choosing a Restaurant

    • Think ahead. Consider meal options at different restaurants and look for places with a wide range of menu items.
    • Check online menus for nutrition information.

    Ordering

    • Balance your meal by including options from all the different food groups: meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables and grains.
    • Look for freshly made entrée salads that give you "balance in a bowl." For example, salads with chicken, cheese or seafood provide protein along with fiber and vitamins. If you’re counting calories, use a low-fat dressing or skip some of the extras, like croutons.
    • Look for freshly made entrée salads that give you "balance in a bowl." For example, salads with chicken, cheese or seafood provide protein along with fiber and vitamins. If you’re counting calories, use a low-fat dressing or skip some of the extras, like croutons.
    • Round out your meal by ordering healthy side dishes, such as a side salad with low-fat dressing, baked potato or fruit. Boost the nutritional value of your baked potato by topping it with vegetables, salsa or chili.
    • Substitute. Ask for a side salad with low-fat dressing to replace fries in a combination meal.
    • Many restaurants honor requests, so don't be afraid to be assertive, ask menu questions and make special requests to meet your nutritional needs.
    • Many restaurants serve huge portions, sometimes enough for two or three people. Order menu items that contain fewer calories and eat a smaller portion. Bring leftovers home for another meal. Or, order an appetizer in place of an entrée and add a small salad.

    Eating

    • Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are no longer hungry.
    • Fast eaters often are overeaters, while slow eaters tend to eat less and are still satisfied.

    Eating Out with Kids

    • Choose a restaurant that caters to children and has a healthy children's menu. The options usually have smaller portion sizes and meals designed to provide ample nourishment for smaller bodies.
    • For kids' meals, opt for milk as a beverage and fruit for dessert.
    • Order plain foods with sauce on the side.
    • Substitute healthier "sides" in place of fries, like carrots or apple slices.
    • Choose two or three suitable menu items, then let your child pick one.
    • Let kids order their familiar favorites when they eat out. For new foods, offer a bite or two from your order.
    • Calcium is important at all ages, but especially for growing bones. To get more calcium, drink low-fat or fat-free white or chocolate milk or add a slice of cheese to their sandwich.
    • Choose dairy-based treats like yogurt, a smoothie or frozen dairy dessert.

    Restaurants may be intimidating to people trying to stick to a healthy diet, but with preparation and confidence, you can enjoy your restaurant meal without abandoning healthy eating.