Eating Out After Bariatric Surgery

Eating out at a restaurant, or even getting takeout, is totally different than cooking food at home. While you have 100% control over the ingredients you use while cooking, you don’t when eating out. It’s hard to choose healthy foods when you’re out at a restaurant; not only because of all the delicious offerings on the menu, but from the ingredients used, too.

Computer screen showing background of hydrangea and Doordash webpage with healthy foods

Before having surgery, I wouldn’t say that we ate out a lot, but I also wouldn’t say that we didn’t. Since I had surgery in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are multiple reasons why we mostly eat at home. However, there are so many new ways to get restaurant food at home: DoorDash and GrubHub are just two options of many.

Pre-Surgery, the sky was the limit when it came to eating out. I didn’t really filter what I was eating, and I definitely wasn’t actively trying to be healthy. Now, that’s all different.

Finding Healthy Restaurants is Hard!

Finding a place to eat that offers healthy food is not an easy task. Fast food is totally off the table. I can’t really say that I miss the days of McDonalds, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, or any other fast-food drive thru. Luckily, I have no cravings for those foods, so I don’t have to worry about that.

The days of fried foods is behind me, so french fries aren’t really on my menu. And while the bread many restaurants put on the table is delicious, that’s not on my menu, either.

So what do we choose? I typically try to choose restaurants that have healthy choices of chicken or beef, and nothing with creamy sauces. I typically don’t go for anything with macaroni or sandwiches. But whatever I choose, I always analyze. Is it really as healthy as I think?

And let’s not get started on chicken. Who else is sick of chicken? I remember my grandmother declared that she “hated poultry” after doing Weight Watchers, which let to just way too much chicken. Well, I totally feel for her. Sometimes I feel like 70% of my diet is chicken – and it gets so boring!

Hidden not so healthy choices

When I’m home and I decide to make hamburgers or meatloaf, I typically use either 93% lean ground beef, or 93-99% lean ground turkey. However, when you go to a restaurant, I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that they’re not using anything that lean and using 80%, instead.

When any recipe I make requires milk, I don’t typically use anything fattier than 1% milk (which is what my kids drink). I always have Skim milk on hand since I use that in my coffee, so I often use that. However, I’m sure at a restaurant, they’re using whole milk. Or maybe even cream!

And let’s not get started on butter and oil in excessive quantities. This even applies to other people making food. They may use lean ingredients, but if they use a whole stick of butter or a cup of oil (like my mother in law), then what’s the point?

These are all things that I have to take into considering when ordering out.

Some of my main choices when Eating Out

My daughters are simple eaters. They often make ordering or dining out very difficult. While I try not to let the inmates run the asylum, I also don’t want to deal with a fight every time we go to dinner. Since they mostly like macaroni and cheese and hamburgers, we try to choose places where we’re assured kid-fare.

Therefore, we often get takeout from Outback Steakhouse. Here, I’m guaranteed a decent meal by ordering a 6oz filet with potato and vegetable. They list their nutrition facts on their website, so it’s easy to match that to what has already been loaded into myfitnesspal. Typically, I divide everything in half and make at least two meals out of it. Pre-Surgery, I used to like the Alice Springs Chicken, but I feel that there are a lot of hidden unhealthies in that dish. And while I could get a simple grilled chicken dish, I don’t like paying for something that I know actually costs a fraction of when they charge.

I like ordering from Mexican places because I can typically get some kind of chicken or beef with fajita vegetables. Throw in one or two hard tacos, and you’re not doing too bad; you just have to watch out for the oil. I’ve had a few experiences where the food was dripping and it was so unappetizing. Nor did it sit well afterwards.

Italian restaurants can be tough because a lot of Italian-American food is breaded and fried. But there is usually a good fish dish on the menu. I just always make sure to be really careful with the starch side. Let’s face it, most Italian places give you a mountain of macaroni (a nice dish of glued together macaroni with a spoonful of sauce on top that you have to mix yourself).

All in All, Eating Out is Hard!

I think the main reason we stopped eating out as much as we used to (or ordering out) before surgery is because it’s just not easy. Sure, I could eat something that’s not good for me, but after all this hard work, why?

What do you order when you go out to a restaurant or order take-out? Do you have a specific go-to meal?

Post Disclaimer

I am not a doctor or a dietitian.  The information I provide is based on my personal experience.  Any recommendations I may make about nutrition, supplements, lifestyle, or fitness, or information provided to you on this website should be discussed between you and your doctor.  The information on this site does not take the place of professional medical advice.

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