Mar 03

Eating in Restaurants After Weight Loss Surgery

Eating out after weight loss surgery can be a challenge. I even find just getting a server to understand I really don’t want a drink with my meal is a chore. In addition,

  1. Menus (rarely) list the nutritional value of food/dishes
  2. The amount of food served is way more than you can eat, which might cause you to over eat
  3. Some restaurants do not offer foods you can eat or foods of dietary value
Big steak omlet with cheese

Put all the food you know you can’t eat into a to-go box. You’ll most often get three meals for the price of one.

Six Tips for Success When Dining Out

Here are some suggestion of things I do when eating in restaurants to follow a good post-weight-loss-surgery plan:

1)  I think about my dietitian’s commands

  • Protein first: Sure I want spaghetti, but it’s the meatballs I need first. I force myself to allow my choices to be centered on the proteins, not my tastebuds or mental desires at the moment
  • No sugar, little fat: I ask the server how foods are prepared, in detail. Most often they don’t know, so I ask them to ask the chef/cook. I don’t assume anything, like grilled means open-flame grilled, or no sugar added means the sugar content is OK
  • Eliminate empty calories: I (try) to push the bread aside. I ask for cottage cheese instead of salad. If I have a tiny salad, I add diced egg, shredded cheese and nuts (from the salad bar) to be sure the salad offers some protein

2)  I question the server about every aspect of the food, and always ask for special considerations

  • What’s in the sauces? which I always ask for on the side
  • Does this have sugar in it?
  • What does grilled mean? On a flat grill with oil/grease or on an open-flame grill. There’s a huge difference.
  • Can the cook/chef cook with cooking spray rather than butter or oil?
  • Do you have low-fat/low-calorie dressing, margarine, sour cream?
  • Is the iced tea diet/sugar free?

3)  I look at the appetizer, ala carte, senior or kids menu before the main menu – for the smaller portions.

4)  I share my meal with my dining companion – my family and friends are always willing to share.

5)  I ask for a to-go box with my meal, which often takes some cajoling.

  • I divvy up my food before I start to eat my meal. I visualize three ounces of protein and leave a little bit of veggies/fruit or a starch, as a prize if I eat my protein.
  • The omlet image shown here is of my favorite IHOP breakfast — the Big Steak Omlet. When I order, I ask for cooking spray, not oil on the grill. I ask to take out the hashbrowns. I replace the pancakes that come with it with fruit. When it comes, I cut it into thirds, leave one piece on my plate and put the other two in the to-go-box. I rarely get to the fruit. My husband eats. it.

6)  I remind myself what my dietitian taught me about eating

  • I (try) to take very small bites, chew 25 times
  • Eat slowly and put down the  utensils between every bite
  • Pay attention pay attention to the sensation signals sent from the stomach. After five months, I can identify the feeling of satisfaction my nurse and dietitian said I’d have. But it took me four months to really understand the feeling of the, “I’ve had enough,” message
  • Don’t follow what your mind tells you. If find overcoming what my mind is telling me, based 50-plus years of eating improperly as a huge challenge
  • No matter what, I stop when I finish my partial serving or when I get that satisfied feeling, whichever comes first




About the author

Laurie Lee Dovey

LLD is a writer, photographer, marketing and media consultant, hunter, angler, RVer, sports nut, poker player, and wife.


  1. Lois W.

    Thank you so much for this. After four months I still have problems at restaurants. I end up going to the same place all the time and ordering the same things. I never thought about asking if the chef could make an item differently or asking the wait staff about how an item is cooked. This gives me some good tools next time I go out.

    1. Laurie Lee Dovey

      You’re welcome. I learn more and more about how I can eat well in restaurants. I’ve also learned I can get three meals for the price of one, or I share a meal with my husband. My primary goal is protein, and I don’t worry about calories very much . . . that may not be your case. So we all have to think, and think outside the box, when we go out. Grilled shrimp/fish instead of fried, a soft (tortilla) chicken taco with cheese. There are lots of choices. And, here’s a website that might spur ideas — although it’s about making food, it shows great choices http://www.bariatriceating.com/

  2. Sandy

    I love salads, but I find that if I eat the salad, I don’t have much more room to eat anything else. I LOVE meat, so that part is my main goal too. If there is a potato/rice side dish, I will eat a bite or two and let my kids have the rest. Bread/buns have to come home to eat later, unless the kids get them. No desert, but if it is something special, I may take a piece home and eat a few bites of it over the next few days. Arby’s roast beef sandwiches are my favorite fast food go to, but I can’t quite finish a whole regular sized one. Or, I might tear off some of the bun and try to get in the roast beef. But, I either need to stop when I am feeling full or when I have eaten so much, because being overfull is quite uncomfortable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>