I get a lot of questions from folks about how to conduct themselves at restaurants. I’ve done SOME guidance on this but I thought I’d offer up a few quick tips and resources for your convenience.
Here are my top five tips for reducing restaurant stress after weight-loss surgery:
- If at all possible, research the menu at the restaurant and decide what you’ll order BEFORE YOU GO. If the restaurant doesn’t have an online nutrition facts page, simply ask them to fax or email you a copy of their menu. Even without the stats on food you can get a good idea for what’s offered and what substitutions you might need to ask for.
- Which brings me to the next one. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions! Restaurants are part of the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry’s purpose is to make sure you get the experience you want (thereby getting your money, which they want). Usually there’s a lot of room to work around their menu. For instance, if you are new-new and know you can only eat a small bit of meat, ask if you can order JUST the meat instead of a whole entree. You can also ask that foods not be cooked in oil, be steamed, sauces served on the side and most anything else (within reason) that will make your food more digestible. And here’s the kicker: you really don’t HAVE to tell them it’s because you had weight-loss surgery. You are a customer. It’s their job to make you happy!
- Take the damn water and don’t drink it! This is one of the easiest remedies to what is a common problem for post-ops. Waitstaff are trained to keep a beverage in front of you. In many restaurants their very job performance is weighed on this factor. So long as you won’t be tempted to sip when you aren’t supposed to, just take the water. Don’t drink it. So long as you have a full glass of water in front of you, the waitstaff will not bring you more. If temptation is a problem, I’ve found the following to be effective. Pull the waitstaff aside and say, “Look, I don’t want any water. I will tip you tremendously more if you stop trying to offer it to me. If need be, I’ll back you up with your manager, k?” Usually that solves the problem.
- Share and share alike. If you are one of those people who is ok with sharing. I love sharing plates with friends and family. They usually end up eating most of it, I end up getting my portion and all the world’s children are happy. For those of us who are further out and allow ourselves the occasional dessert, the “share tactic” works particularly well. A reasonable sized dessert split between 3-4 people gives you just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth without wrecking your plan!
- It’s not about you. We sometimes worry that our small eating capacities will make us stick out during a meal. To be fair, sometimes it does. Especially if you’re eating with your mom or Aunt So-and-so who thinks you’ll die of starvation. But most of the time if we don’t draw too much attention to our eating habits, folks are so into their eating habits that they barely notice us. Either that OR etiquette prevents them from saying anything until you do. And if you don’t then it doesn’t come up!
- Olive Garden
- Any sushi place
- Buffet restaurants (cuz in some families it’s like that!)
- P.F. Chang’s
- BD’s Mongolian Grill
- …and coming soon “The BF Survival Guide to Red Lobster”