Traveling after Weight Loss Surgery

Traveling after LAP-BAND surgery or weight loss surgery.
Keith McEwen, MD, Community-Hamilton Bariatric Surgeon

Summer vacations beckons. Dr. Keith McEwen offers tips for traveling after lap band surgery, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass or Orbera.

I am frequently asked, “ so how long before I get to go out to a restaurant?”. The answer varies but generally whenever a patient believes they can make good choices without temptation. “Safe and low calorie foods” after a weight loss surgery can be found in restaurants. Many choices are available in the form of soups, appetizers, baked, broiled,grilled and low calorie options.

Probably the biggest hurdle a weight loss surgery patient will face is eating with family and friends and as they often “inhale their food”. After weight loss surgery, chewing slowly, taking small bites, and eating small portions is ideal. The best way to success is to PREPARE. Look up the menu online so that you have an idea of what you want, the calories that you want to spend, the drinks that you want to have, and then prepare for the great dinner conversation. Slow down, you do not have to tell everyone your business. You can simply say, “I am being food concious and trying to work on my health”. You do not have to give reasons- you are an adult. Ask the waiter or waitress to move inticing items that you struggle with toward the person you like the least(KIDDING). You can pass the breads, rolls, chips, or trigger food to the other end of the table.

I don’t believe booking a cruise shortly after weight loss surgery will be easy because of the tempting buffets and limitless access to food.  However, if you do, you will have a lot of healthy choices to make. There are always great healthy choices in food, and port excursions as well as walking and swimming are great forms of exercise.

Let’s say you head to the lakes for a relaxing weekend. Plan a balanced food menu. Cooking out burgers add grilled veggies. It is a lifestyle change not a complete – I WILL NEVER HAVE THAT AGAIN>. It’s hot, fix a cool and refreshing smoothie. Planning is essential to success to avoid temptations.

So plan ahead. After weightloss surgery, you now have a new diet and exercise program which is crucial for weight loss success. Vacation is not like “taking days off” from your established routine. Cravings are going to happen and you won’t have the benefit of your own kitchen supplies to help during those times, so pack your own little cooler of supplements and food ingredients.

Healthy snacks while traveling in 100 calorie portions might include almonds and protein or Fiber One bars. Another tip is to check out the restaurant menu online before you make a reservation so you can see the nutritional facts of its food choices. Of all the choices, an alcoholic drink is probably the most misleading because these are generally very high in calories, for example a blended cocktail can contain more than 500 calories in a 12 ounce glass. However, weight loss surgery does not mean that you cannot enjoy food or a beverage- it only means that you need to be aware and choose to count those calories.

The other important point is timing. If you eat, at regular times throughout the day then try to make that part of your travel itinerary. Plan to stop, explore the sites, and use food as a fuel to give you energy for the next stop in your travel. It’s still possible to stick to your new diet lifestyle plan, but beware of the bread basket (and you will most certainly avoid making an emergency call to our office about your gastric discomfort.)

Stay in touch! Call our office if you need advice or perspective about the choices. But most of all enjoy the break away from home. Maybe send us a postcard or e-card! We love pictures of you enjoying your new healthier lifestyle so please share.

rear view of people on beach
Photo by Pixabay on

For meal ideas during vacation, visit eHow’s article “Easy Meals to Cook While on Vacation” at

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