It’s a sad fact: Most people think your days of eating out after weight loss surgery (or just if you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle) are over .Done-zo. Finished.
It doesn’t have to be that way!!!
Since I first decided to have WLS back in the beginning of 2011, I was determined to figure out how my old life and my new body could live in harmony.
When it came to the idea of eating out, it never occurred to me that I’d have to stop altogether. I was more worried about the fact that I’d most likely end up wasting mass amounts of food if I ate out frequently. My personal favorite weight loss blogger, Shelly, over at The World According to Eggface is a genius when it comes to what she calls re-purposing her leftovers. I could easily do this, but frankly, I’m a little too lazy!
There are a few simple things to keep in mind when it comes to eating out.
1. Plan your attack!
Technology is amazing! You can check out a restaurants reviews, read a menu, find directions to get there, and so much more. A few minutes before or during the car ride to the restaurant is all you need to set yourself up for sit-in success! I like to use Yelp.com to check out different options in the immediate area, and after finding one that has high reviews and decent prices, I click through to the menu on the link typically provided.
Whether you’re keeping it low-carb, low-cal, low-fat, or just treating yourself on your “Reward Day,” this is a fabulous resource! See what local connoisseurs highly recommend and adapt it to your needs! Sometimes, I’ll find myself craving a burger or tacos…and I’ll indulge! I order tacos and dump all the filling in a bowl with my favorite red sauce, and it’s heaven. Order a perfect turkey burger and get it wrapped in lettuce or with no bun period. You’d be surprised how much something tastes like heaven, even if you eliminate the part you used to live for!
2. Avoid Fast Food
I totally said it. You gotta understand, even before I had WLS, I couldn’t really handle a lot of fast food. Sure, I’d get a craving for Taco Bell and binge my brains out, but I couldn’t STAND the way it made me feel! I REFUSE to eat at McDonald’s…so you won’t find any tips for that here. Luckily, places like Taco Bell have gotten creative and adapted their menus with healthier options, but I still prefer to just keep my distance. If you’re in the market for fast food, here are some suggestions from Shelly’s blog that I find useful. My personal choices at the “fine dining establishments” are noted in italics next to hers. 🙂
In & Out Burger: “Protein-style”
Single Cheeseburger with grilled onions (Protein style = wrapped in lettuce
instead of a bun)
Taco Bell, Del Taco: Order of Pintos & Cheese/refried beans with a scoop of meat or
El Pollo Loco:
Grilled Chicken Breast (single piece – they are huge) or $1 side salad minus
tortilla strips & the $1 Chicken Taco El Carbon. I discard the tortilla and
dump the chicken on the salad. Great meal for $2. I go for the small Chicken Tortilla Soup.
McDonald’s: Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled
Chicken, no dressing (ask for salsa packets)
Carl’s Jr: Cranberry, Apple, Walnut Grilled
Chicken Salad (ax the walnuts if you are sensitive to sugars they are glazed) or
they will wrap any of their burgers in lettuce. Just ask for the “Lettuce Wrap”
Sbarro: Side of Meatballs
or Sausage with Sauce
Jack in the Box: Denver Breakfast bowl
minus the hashbrowns & white cheese sauce, Southwest Chicken Bowl or
Teriyaki Chicken Bowl minus rice
Subway, Submarina, Quiznos: They will turn any of the subs into salads. Watch the
dressings, ax the croutons/breadsticks/flat breads. I like Quiznos soup
Starbucks: Egg White Whole
Wheat Feta Wrap, Oatmeal, Protein Plate giveaway the date bread, Soy Lattes. I personally go for the Grilled Chicken and Hummus Bento Box, Protein Bento Box, or a fruit and yogurt parfait (the raspberry and peach is REALLY good)
Oatmeal with banana. I typically get a kids sized smoothie from the new kids menu, and a CherryAlmond oatmeal if I am really hungry. Or, I’ll go ahead and get a 16oz fruit and veggies smoothie!
Bowl minus rice (this will feed an Army)
Baja Fresh: Tortilla Soup (minus tortilla
& Fruit Salad (newly discovered), Kid’s Meal Grilled Chicken Nuggets with
fruit salad and water.
Rubio’s: You can have grilled fish on any
of their salads. Ask for dressing on the side or better yet use salsa.
Diners, IHOP, Denny’s: Scrambled
Eggs with Cheese is my standard. If they have turkey sausage even better. I typically look for the “lighter side menus” at all these restaurants and get the egg whites or one egg, turkey sausage, and fruit! I fight the urge to order pancakes or hash browns by eating bites of Sean’s!
3. Caring is Sharing
It’s the simplest trick in my book! Opt for things like your favorite Chinese place in the neighborhood, and share single entrees family style. We are inclined to order so much takeout, but you’d be surprised how much food (unnecessary calorie-laden food) it is! Whether you’re housing new, smaller stomach, or just trying to cut back and eat better….sharing is foolproof! Sean and I will get Broccoli and Beef, Won Ton Soup and by the time we finish the soup and the entrée comes, we hardly eat any steamed rice! Ask for options like brown rice or extra veggies to kick your healthy into overdrive, and NEVER, EVER feel like it’s tacky to share. It’s your money…and it’s your stomach! The Chinese restaurant won’t pay for your funeral!
Or for those Girls’ Nights? Try family style food. I went out with the girls to a Tapas Bar and we shared 3-5 small plates and a pitcher of sangria…and it was perfect! For Alex’s Bachelorette party, we went to The Melting Pot, a trendy fondue restaurant and shared a bunch of food. It was just enough for each person without being overwhelming, and we all got to try different menu items.
4. Order from the Kids Menu or Happy Hour Menu
My favorite fast and lazy “I got off work so late and I’m not cooking” meal? A 4 piece chicken nugget kids meal from Chik-fil-A with a fruit cup instead of fries, and a diet lemonade. If I’m really feeling dangerous, I’ll order regular lemonade. I know…such a rebel!! You can do this with places like Chipotle, Panera, Noodles and Company, etc. Not only do I have a “fast food” meal that doesn’t make me feel all lethargic and disgusting…I spent less money and ate waaaayyyy less calories than I would have would a regular combo or Value Meal. Winning! My other go-to? My friend Katrina and I have monthly Happy Hour dates to catch up, and usually end up at The Elephant Bar! Elephant Bar, Pei Wei, and PF Changs are awesome because they have these healthy and delicious chicken lettuce wraps! Low-cal, low-carb, tons of protein, and enough for two people, and just $5 during Happy Hour!!
The most important thing you can take away with you from any “dining out” experience?
Your leftovers! There was a time where I felt guilty leaving any food on my plate. And I’m not one for leftovers, historically (I’ve gotten much better in the last 7 or 8 years, now that I pay for groceries!), but I’d rather eat just enough to be satisfied, and take the rest home. Sometimes I give it to a homeless person on the street. Sometimes I let Alex and Josh know they’re up for grabs in the fridge. Sometimes I give it to Sean’s mom for her lunch at work the next day. It doesn’t matter what you do…just don’t stuff yourself once you’re done eating. It’s time we stopped letting food be more than just nourishment! It doesn’t need to rule your emotions or comfort you…just needs to sustain you until the next meal!
That’s all for now, but I hope I have given you something to work with the next time you head out for a meal on the town!
Sound off! Leave me a comment and tell me what YOUR favorite tip(s) are for eating out when you’re trying to eat healthier?
‘Til Next Time!