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Like so many, especially us seniors, our social lives revolve around food and eating out.

My wife has been supportive but she is also anxious about the changes to our lives that will be coming about because of my upcoming sleeve surgery. I think she envisions having to be in liquid or pureed diet modes forever or that her eating normally in front of me will be detrimental to me.

Our common social theme is that we have date night once a week where we go to the movies followed by dinner out. We might eat out maybe 3 times a week. Nothing fancy but nice restaurants with an occasional splurge for a special occasion. When we get with friends it is usually over a meal out as well.

So here are my questions to those of you that have been through WLS and are 6 months or more post-op:

When were you able to start eating out?

What kinds of restaurants did you find it easiest to be successful in?

Did you have a "strategy" in approaching eating out?

While I understand the diet requirements going forward when were you able to eat a normal meal at home? Meaning a meal that would have a Protein, vegetable and maybe a starch at one sitting. Smaller servings certainly.

I guess maybe the real question is when could I expect to eat some of the same things for dinner my wife could or would eat?

Thanks for any help or tips you might have. They will help me and my wife feel more comfortable with this journey.

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I am almost seven months post surgery and I do eat out. I ate at a deli while still on purée (had a cup of soup)! I also ate out just out of soft food stage (I had shrimp and a plain baked potato). I traveled at three months. The biggest issue will be what you order and can you bring the extras home. I order things like fish, shrimp, fajitas, chicken, or a wrap. When I travel with my husband I eat off his plate. I can eat about 1/4 of a thick hamburger. No fried foods. No foods with added sugar. Use the internet or an app like My Fitness Pal to look up what you are really getting in terms of Protein and calories. Restaurants notoriously add unnecessary sugar and salt to food. It helps to plan this out before you leave the house. Everyone assumes salad but salad is actually hard to eat because it fills you up before you get your Protein. It can also have tons of calories at restaurants.

And plan to eat lots of leftovers. One meal ordered out is typically now about three meals worth.

Ask if you have more questions that I didn’t address!

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Also, if you love popcorn at the movies, bring your own individual bag of Skinny Pop in your wife’s purse. Works great to feel like you are getting the full movie experience.


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Probably 6 months to a year. When I eat out now, I eat a small portion of the food and box the rest. It gives me 2 or 3 additional meals days afterward.

You will spend more time in conversation after surgery during the meals.

When your stomach heals enough, you can transition to Protein Bars. This will help you meet your daily Protein goals when you are on the go.

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Once I was on to "regular" food (which was about 6 weeks post op on my plan) I was eating out with my family. Often, I would order an appetizer portion of something that was primarily Protein. Or I would order a Soup as my "main course" and the rest of the family would have appetizers - I would take a plate and make it look like I had some to keep odd questions from servers away.

Six weeks post surgery I ate out for almost a week solid as we had to be out of town for my mother's funeral. It requires some planning and forethought, but isn't hard. I eat out frequently.

I was on vacation last week with my daughter who was on spring break from college. We had dinner one night at Outback. I didn't eat the bread. I had some salad (boxed up the rest to bring home). Ate about 3 ounces of my steak and a few bites of broccoli and had the rest boxed to bring home - had dinner and lunch out of it during the week.

As for eating a starch - I don't think I added starches back in until I was about 8 months out because I didn't want to go down the rabbit hole - carbs are my cryptonite. Now, 20 months out, I can eat half of a very small baked potato along with my steak and some salad -but I don't have the potato often.

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I'm currently 14 months post op and we eat out about once a week with our kids and a couple times a month with our friends in a social situation. When I'm with the hubby and kids, I don't really care to much about my small portions but when I'm with friends I'm more conscious about what I'm eating and have tricks to take attention away from my small portion size.

To answer your questions:

When were you able to start eating out?

I went to a work event at 3 weeks post op that was a sit down dinner, That was my first time out after surgery. I was still on pureed so I drank a Protein Shake prior to going and just ate the mashed potatoes. I was 3 months out when I went to a restaurant for the first time, as we were traveling.

What kinds of restaurants did you find it easiest to be successful in?

I've eaten pretty much every where since surgery. Fast food is hard because you really have to dig for a good option, Wendy's is usually my go to or Subway for a salad. Many national chains have lighter fare menus now but it's pretty generic food but good in a pinch (Core Life, Red Robin, Ground Round and Ruby Tuesdays are usually good options I've found) . We mostly like to patronize local establishments. The food is better quality and I've found the portion sizes are more manageable. It's not just a huge plate of food. We have a big Farm to Table movement going on here so I'm totally loving all the fresh options, even dairy and meat seem to be of better quality.

Did you have a "strategy" in approaching eating out?

I order a lot of appetizers as entree's if they have good choices. Order burgers without buns, chose a vegetable side instead of fries or onion rings. I usually don't get soup or salad if it comes with a meal if possible because I can't eat both. Avoid bread. I move my food around my plate a lot so it looks like I'm eating more than I am. I've only had 2 waitress' question if my meal was okay since I've started going out again.

While I understand the diet requirements going forward when were you able to eat a normal meal at home? Meaning a meal that would have a Protein, vegetable and maybe a starch at one sitting. Smaller servings certainly.

Yes, I can and do. Starting at 9 months post op my NUT wanted me adding more veggies and starch to my diet as they are important. My NUT wants me eating a small version of a normally portioned meal now. Prior to that it was all about Protein.

I guess maybe the real question is when could I expect to eat some of the same things for dinner my wife could or would eat?

Post 12 weeks you can start eating a normal diet again, or at least in my program you could. Now I eat everything my hubby can eat but in moderation. Of course there are things I avoid but I could eat if I chose.

Also I still treat myself on occasion (like yesterday was by birthday so I had 3 boneless wings from BWW and it was delish) but not regularly and know your triggers and limits.

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Thank you for this detailed post. I travel quite a bit for work and often have business dinners I have to attend.

There are two ways my NUT and I came up with to hopefully avoid strange looks or uncomfortable questions.

1. When ordering, ask for 1/2 to be presented and 1/2 to be boxed up to go

2. My NUT has a “kids portion” scrip that I can present at any restaurant discretely requesting a kid’s sized meal - or allowing me to order from the kid’s menu.






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You may want to read the posts in my recent post. There was a lot of good ideas and thoughts about this topic.

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Special Thanks to Sullie06 - great feedback

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I eat out once a week. I will usually order the soup. I Especially like potato Soups and will bring some real bacon bits to add in extra Protein. You can also order off the side menu or order eggs. I always check out the menu online before I go to see if there is something I can eat. Eating out 3 times a week is likely why you need the surgery. Restaurant food is fattening. I would try to cut back on eating out and instead find something else to do that you enjoy with your wife. Live music (careful not to replace food with alcohol though), people watching. walks downtown or in a nice park, golfing, etc.

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I don't let my surgery affect our families 'getting together' for special occasions. I do the best I can, based on where we are. At brunch, I ordered a chicken biscuit, and just ate some of the chicken. At a burger place yesterday, I ordered a cheeseburger without the bun. If I can take leftovers home, I do, but if I can't, I feel a little guilt about wasting food, but not too much. I might munch on an onion ring or a French fry, but I don't beat myself up, and am thankful I have my stomach to tell me to STOP when my head would tell me to keep going.

It's life. If you enjoy it, you can find a way to work it in. Do an extra workout. Order seafood, or other lean Protein. Leave the carbs on your plate. Enjoy the company and the occasion more than the food itself. Don't feel guilty.

One thing I miss, is skipping lunch, in order to eat more at dinner. Our family loves dining out on special occasions and I used to skip lunch to have extra room for dinner. Can't do that anymore.

Sent from my XT1254 using BariatricPal mobile app

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I am 6 months out, and we go out to eat about once per week. :)

When were you able to start eating out?

As soon as I got cleared for regular food (around three weeks, I think), I was able to go out to eat. At first, I had to really focus on ordering soft/easy to digest Protein and eating that and a bite or two of veggies.

What kinds of restaurants did you find it easiest to be successful in?

You can literally eat anywhere. You might find that there are some foods that don't sit as well after surgery. For me, that's bread and pizza crust. For me, I adapt by ordering my burgers without buns or getting my sandwiches served as lettuce wraps. I also do thin crust pizza or eat just the toppings. You can make any restaurant work for you if you make smart choices.

Did you have a "strategy" in approaching eating out?

Protein first. Now that I can eat anything, I still do protein first and I also try to get a small amount of veggies/fruit and healthy carbs with each meal. When I go out to eat, I try to undereat my sleeve a little bit. At home I measure portions, so I know I'm not overdoing it. When I go out, I may more attention to how I feel and try to stop short of that "full" feeling.

While I understand the diet requirements going forward when were you able to eat a normal meal at home? Meaning a meal that would have a Protein, vegetable and maybe a starch at one sitting. Smaller servings certainly.

Pretty early on - I think I got to start soft Proteins at 2 weeks and then adding soft fruits/veggies at 4 weeks. You slowly build back up to tolerating crunchy stuff again. At 6 months out, I can eat anything.

I guess maybe the real question is when could I expect to eat some of the same things for dinner my wife could or would eat?

You can eat "normally" about a month out as long as your wife doesn't mind softer cooked meats and veggies/fruits. I ate with my family at that time, and they didn't mind the stuff we were eating. There are a lot of options in that phase - most crockpot meats, ground beef, etc. You probably won't be eating raw veggies or crunchier foods for a couple of months, but that isn't too long in the grand scheme.

Your surgery really shouldn't affect your social eating long-term. You can still go and have fun - you just eat smaller portions and focus more on nutrition.

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Mamamc32, Great feedback, thanks

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We eat out about once a week and I use all of the advice listed above - Protein first, box up leftovers etc. One thing I have found very helpful especially when we are out with people who don't know I've had surgery is to go to restaurants where shared food is normal - like tapas or other 'small plate' type restaurants. Thankfully those are very popular in my neck of the woods right now. I just let everyone else order and then I take tiny portions and eat very slowly. No one even notices that I'm not eating much because we are all sharing. It also helps me avoid the uncomfortable discussion with the waitstaff who typically thinks I hated my food because I eat so little...

I've noticed that I love going out with friends even more now because I spend my time thinking about my friends and our conversation. Before I would be so focused on the food and self-conscious about things like fitting into chairs or booths that I would ignore the people around me.

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