#SleeveLife: Eating Out After Bariatric Surgery

For the first six weeks or so after bariatric surgery, the pace of your life slows down while you recover. You’ve got some time: time to read, time to write, and time to think about exactly what you’ve gotten yourself into.

IMG_4721Gradually, though, it starts to ramp back up and before you even know what’s happening, things are right back to the way they were before the surgery. You’re back at work. You’re jolting awake at 2am most nights, heart pounding with a nameless fear. And you’re getting up too goddamn early in the morning to do the whole thing all over again.

Sooner or later, though, you’re gonna find yourself in restaurant for a meal, for the first time since your surgery. The scene of the crime, so to speak. Maybe in the company of friends, maybe with family. Maybe co-workers. Doesn’t matter. You’ll eat, because eventually, things have to go back to normal – even if it’s a new normal.

The question you gotta ask yourself, though – and this is important – is this: Sweet Baby Jesus, how are am I gonna get through this?

When my number came up, I was with family. It wasn’t really planned. It just sort of happened.

IMG_4720As luck would have it, the restaurant selected for this debut, a Ruby Tuesday just off of I-95 in Waterville, happened to be particularly bariatric-friendly. Sure, the joint has shitload of sugary cocktails, enormous desserts and fried whatnots on the menu, but it’s also got plenty of basic protein – grilled chicken and fish, burgers, etc. – available, too.

More importantly, the chain’s website offers what is probably the most detailed nutritional information I’ve ever seen put up by any restaurant, anywhere: specific information about your meal, not just as an aggregate, but broken down by component, every ingredient in every dish.

This is key, because when you’re bariatric, you’re all about tracking – protein, carbs, portions, water. You gotta track all that stuff. And more. At this Ruby Tuesday in Waterville, I got lucky. It was easy.

So here’s how it went down.

IMG_4728I went with the Turkey Bacon Avocado burger. I discarded the bun, gave the bacon and the side of fries to The Boy, and ate about a third of the meat, along with the avocado and half a piece of bacon. I should’ve brought my scale so I could actually weight out my portion, but at this point, I’m pretty good at eyeballing two ounces.

Using the restaurant’s web site, I was able to pinpoint and log the exact nutritional data for the meal – Turkey: 113cal/9p/0c; Avocado: 80cal/1p/4c; Bacon: 18cal/1p/0c – and rest assured knowing that what I’d eaten fit squarely within the confines of the new normal.

For a few moments, anyway, I was at peace.

So, what did we learn? When it comes to eating out as a bariatric planning helps, but more importantly, know your limits and stay within your boundaries.

Otherwise, go nuts.

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