I enjoy going out to eat. Whether it’s eating in a restaurant or at a friend’s house you can count me in. It’s one of my still-favourite things to do with my family and friends. But here are a few suggestions to keep your weight on track. Restaurants make the experience easy since it’s possible to choose off a menu (and even check it on-line beforehand) but eating at someone’s house can be more problematic. With some simple strategies, preparation and a bit of discipline, dinner out or at a friend’s house can be an enjoyable and diet or WLS-friendly-experience! Here are a few ideas on how to strike a balance. You can do it!
1. Pick and choose. When dinner is served, focus on protein then veggie dishes, salads, and finally carbs. Politely pass on anything that’s smothered in sauces, cream, or mayo. If you do decide to indulge in a rich entrée or a dessert, stick with a single, sensible and ideally measured portion if you can.
2. Bring your own dish. If dinner is potluck, bring nutritious, diet‐friendly or wls-friendly options such as a healthy protein or vegetable dish, crudités platter, or fruit salad. This way you’ll have something “safe” to eat, and you’ll be sharing the gift of health! We have countless recipes on the website to choose from that would be ideal for entertaining and most are transportable.
3. Watch your hands. If there are munchies within your reach, be sure to have only a single small portion instead of repeatedly reaching for bowl or grazing before the main event. Hold a glass of water or carry a clutch purse with one hand so it’s harder to pig out.
4. Be careful with the cocktails. Alcoholic drinks can be loaded with calories and sugar and lower your inhibitions so you eat more. Some are so sugar-laden you may run the risk of ‘dumping’ (see here). Have a glass of wine or a white wine spritzer‐ half wine, half seltzer (shaken very well to keep the fizz down) ‐ instead of a sugary cocktail.
5. Inform your friend. Sometimes we feel pressured to eat because we think friends will be insulted if we don’t. Before the dinner party, tell your host not to feel that way when you don’t try everything or ask for seconds. Let her know that you’re trying to slim down, have a regime to follow and not all the yummy dishes are on your menu.
6. Or keep quiet. Whether they do it consciously or not, some friends and relatives sabotage our best intentions to live a healthy life. And pressure from family and friends can actually work against you staying motivated and slim. If your host is that type, then don’t fill her in on your way of life. Instead think of a few things you can say, such as that you had a big or late lunch, when she pushes a fattening or unsuitable food on you. You can also politely take a serving and leave it on your plate. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
7. Enjoy the company. The reason we gather with friends is to share their company and conversation, and in our go‐go‐go world spending time with loved ones is rare. Instead of focusing on food, pay extra attention to those around you. You won’t over indulge, and you’ll connect with others in a meaningful way.
8. Look before you eat. If the dinner is buffet, survey the whole spread before you choose what you’ll eat. Also, use a small plate like our bariatric portion plate (see here) so you don’t overdo it and keep portions in proportion.
9. Offer your assistance. Helping a friend prepare, serve, and do other things at the dinner may keep you busy to munch mindlessly. Plus, you’ll get a bit of exercise getting up and down or going back and forth to the kitchen.
10. Don’t go hungry. Some people starve themselves all day so they can eat what they want at a dinner, party or special occasion. The problem? You’ll be so hungry when you arrive at your friends that you’re likely to make poor food choices and leave with an aching tummy and loads of regret. Stick with healthy meals during the day and eat a filling snack if you’re pre-surgery right before you go.
11. Stay focused on your goals. When others around us are pigging out, it’s all too easy to throw in the towel and follow their lead. A study done at Vanderbilt University in Nashville found that, on average, women took in 696 calories when they ate with others compared with 476 when they dined alone. But that doesn’t mean you should shun social meals. Just remember that your goals are different from your friend’s. Just because a girlfriend is reaching for seconds ‐ doesn’t mean that you have to. What one wls patient can eat may also not be what another can depending upon surgery type, time out from surgery, constraints of their bariatric team and tolerances.
12. Think before you eat. Before diving into that decadent dessert, imagine how you’ll feel if you step on the scale and it’s gone up or hasn’t budged, or if your clothes are snug. Often the momentary pleasure is not worth the guilt you’ll feel later. That said, if you do, draw a line under it and start again tomorrow with more resolve.
Some information courtesy of Denise Austin