Eating Out After Weight Loss Surgery

Estimated read time 4 min read

An old high school classmate and one of his friends recently started a new adventure to open their own restaurant.  Yesterday was the grand opening and like any good friend, I decided to go and have lunch there to support them.

I ordered a cup of soup (broccoli and cheddar) and the toasted ham and cheese sandwich.

As I was leaving with half my sandwich in a to-go container, I made the comment to my lunch companion that since my surgery, this was what eating out looked like.

The truth is, if you have had weight loss surgery, your dining out experience changes pretty drastically.   Especially in the beginning.

8-square-biodegradable-takeaway-food-boxes-case.57a1d358cee1c Because, let’s face it, in the beginning and for a very long time to follow, you just can’t stroll into your favorite date night restaurant, order your usually and eat it all. It’s going home with you in one of these containers.

Or you’re leaving half your meal on the table for the wait staff to clean up and wonder if you just didn’t like it enough to finish eating.

Despite the growing numbers of people getting WLS, there really aren’t very many options for us as restaurant goers.  I don’t know if its because we don’t factor into an algorithm for profits (we shouldn’t) or because most people don’t expect WLS patients to eat out.  But there you have it.  Few options.

One – as I’ve already mentioned – is the To-Go box, where you may take home a good meal to eat for days later, should you wish.  Or feed to your dog… or in my case, the chickens.

Two – you may get a Restaurant Card to present when you eat out.   A Restaurant Card (click links to see two different versions) are printable cards which will allow you to eat off the child or seniors menus at participating restaurants.

You print it up, take it to your surgeon to sign and (if you’re smart) laminate it, so it can’t be damaged over time.   When you eat out, you present the card before you order and hope for the best.

There are two… no, really three issues with the cards.

  1.  Not a lot of restaurants actually honor them.  The list, according to Google, is very small.
  2. Even if they say they honor them, individual chains or establishments are not actually obligated to honor them.
  3. The children’s menu often contains very bad for you, breaded, friend objects, or pouch-filling pasta and carbs.

So… it, like the To-Go box, is a mixed option.

Three – if you’re lucky enough to have a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/family member  who has similar taste in foods, you could order one meal and split it.

I am not.  My husband’s tastes run to spicy, no veggies and lots of cheese.   It’s very rare that we like the same items on any menu.

Which really means that, for me, the best option is the To-Go box.  I can take it home,maybe eat some the next day at lunch.  Maybe feed it to the chickens.

Is it a bit annoying to have to do that every time?  Yes.  Is it a waste of money to buy a meal I can’t eat?   Yes.  BUT – how many people, how many normal, non-WLS people, go to a restaurant and don’t come home with a doggie bag of some kind?

Between appetizers (which I encourage my family to order now, believe it or not, because if the drinks come first, then appetizers, I can take a few sips of water right away and STILL get a good 15-20 minutes at a sit-down restaurant before the meal comes), the huge portions for the meals, and a dessert… that’s a LOT of food.  Most people fill up on the appetizers and can’t eat all their meal any way.  Right?



Here I am at the opening of my friend’s restaurant. It was totally worth the doggie bag!

No matter which route you choose in handling your dining out experience, make the best of it. I brought half my sandwich home to share with my parents. And they enjoyed it, too.

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    • 2

      Good for you! It’s best to go into it somewhat prepared. Even though everyone’s experiences are different to some extent, there are some universals. This is one of them.

      I also could have mentioned knowing what foods are going to make you sick after your surgery, so you can avoid them. For RNY, anything with a high sugar content is going to make you dump. Maybe not if you take a small bite from your husband’s plate, but if you order (and eat) that whole dessert, it will. 🙁

      I had a friend back in Norfolk who had WLS and she used to invite me out to lunch, eat something and say “I probably shouldn’t eat this” and then eat it anyway, and spend the next 24 hours sicker than sick. I think she had a lap band, given that was over 8 years ago.

      I’m still at the point where I’m still introducing foods back into my life and re-learning how to do everything.

      Fast food is a mess. I won’t even go into it. But with two kids active in sports, fast food happens more often than it should. Sometimes I just grab a protein shake before I leave the house and pick up food for them and not me.

  1. 3

    I haven’t had surgery but I did lose (at one point) sixty pounds. I understand what you mean because it is the same struggle. I usually try to order the healthiest thing I can and automatically cut it in half to take home. But I take it home to eat for lunch the next day.

    • 4

      Yeah. In my case, depending on the restaurant, it’s more like cutting off 2/3 or 3/4 to take home . Yesterday was a small mom and pop place and what I ordered was normally portioned. So I ate the soup and half the sandwich. But you go to some place like Olive Garden, or any restaurant known for big portions and I’m bring home one or two boxes of food, guaranteed. I do try to research the menu before I go out to eat and plan the best, healthiest choice. Often if there is a salad that includes meat, I look at those first.

    • 6

      Didn’t think about that! I guess it would depend on the appetizer. Went to Olive Garden a couple weeks ago and ordered the calamari as a meal. Ate half. Gave the rest to daughter.

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