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My first time eating at a real restaurant in a very long time…

July 9, 2021, 3:50 PM

Recently, on a trip to Staunton, I had my first meal in a full-service restaurant since my weight loss surgery in December 2019.  We were visiting family, as my sister and her husband were in from Chicago.  So our party consisted of Elyse and me, my sister and her husband Chris, our parents, and Chris’s parents.  Nice group all around.  We ate at Zynodoa, which is a higher tier restaurant than I typically go to, but it was a good experience overall.

I would say that the timing of things tended to work against restaurants in general.  I had my surgery on December 6, 2019, and so things were still healing for most of December.  I was figuring out through trial and error about what foods would be tolerated by my body, and also determining portion sizes.  When Elyse and I would go out, we typically would stop in at a grocery store with a food bar if we needed to eat, like Harris Teeter, Wegmans, or Whole Foods.  I was typically able to get out of there for about five bucks (I would jokingly refer to myself as a cheap date).  Doing that allowed me to try out a variety of different foods, and only get the amounts that I needed (remember, my tummy is tiny now).

Then the pandemic restrictions came along, which took eating in restaurants out of the picture entirely.  I’ve never been one to do take-out from restaurants.  If I’m eating food from a sit-down restaurant, I’m more than likely going to be eating it at the restaurant.  If I’m getting it to go, I’m going somewhere else, like a grocery store or something else cheaper than a full restaurant.  Thus if I couldn’t eat on the premises because of various rules in place, a full restaurant was of no use to me.  And if I’m getting food to take home, I might as well just eat the food that I already have at home.  All of that said, the pandemic rules came about while I was still forming new habits after having my surgery, and that meant that full-service restaurants were more or less out of the picture, i.e. they didn’t exist as far as I was concerned.

As far as my eating habits now go, I rarely eat off of a plate these days.  Most often now, I eat out of a coffee mug.  It’s easier to figure out portions when I have a mug rather than a plate.  A mug is small and holds a finite amount of food (i.e. you really can’t load up a mug, unlike a plate), just like my stomach, and so it works out nicely.

So with the restaurant, this was a new experience.  I had never been to this restaurant before (that tier of restaurant is generally above my comfort level), so I didn’t quite know what to expect as far as the food went.  The menu was fairly limited, which made choosing a lot easier.  My goal was to make sure that I got my protein in, and make good choices.  Someone ordered cornbread as an appetizer for the table, and it looked like this:

Cornbread from Zynodoa

As I understand it, this was real cornbread, cooked in a cast iron pan, and not like the stuff that you buy premade in the store.  It also had some sort of glaze on the top of it, with butter and some kind of chutney on the side.  As you can see, it looked lovely.

So how was it?  I have no idea.  I didn’t have any, politely declining to have a piece.  I was not about to fill up on all of that sugar, especially when I’d had a slice of pizza with a standard crust the day before.  One indulgence is enough for a while.  Gotta stick to the program, especially with only 21 pounds left to go until I reach my goal weight.  Everyone else said it was wonderful, though.  I would have preferred that an appetizer had not been ordered for the table at all, but it wasn’t up to me.  Holding an appetizer constant, I would have preferred that it not be cornbread, because that was probably the worst thing on the menu as far as what I should and should not eat.  I’m also not about to ask that everyone acquiesce to my wishes, so I just had to manage.  I admit, though, that I felt a bit left out while everyone was enjoying the cornbread and I couldn’t have any, but those are the breaks.

For the entree (which I unfortunately forgot to photograph), I had the pork loin.  It consisted of several slices of pork loin topped with cabbage and green onion, with some cauliflower around it along with some kind of sauce.  It wasn’t bad by any means.  I suppose that it worked to my advantage that this was one of those expensive restaurants that serves a relatively small portion size, i.e. they don’t pile on massive amounts of food like a diner might do.  I think that I did okay.  I had all of the vegetables, and had all but two of the pork loin slices (I think that it was a total of six). I considered such a small amount left over to be too little to take home, so I gave one to Elyse, and Chris had the other one.

All in all, I don’t think that I did too badly for my first proper visit to a sit-down restaurant post-surgery.  However, I also don’t foresee another visit to a sit-down restaurant in the near future.  When I eat so little now, I find it very difficult to justify the prices at restaurants, as well as justify a tip, especially since so much of restaurant meals consist of things that I wouldn’t eat anyway.  For a hamburger meal, for instance, the bun and the fries would get thrown out for too many carbs, leaving only the meat and the vegetables on it, to be eaten with utensils. I’m not wasting my money on a meal where I’m not going to eat most of it.  Additionally, I’ve learned that foods that don’t have enough moisture in them will get rejected by my stomach, i.e. it’s coming right back up.  Reheating leftovers tends to dry out the food, and that means that something that was tolerated the first time around may get rejected the second time around.  Therefore, it really behooves me to get the size right on the front end of it, and not have leftovers, because half the time, I can’t eat them anyway – thus more money down the drain if I have to throw the rest away regardless.

So there you have it, I suppose.  In the process of forming new habits post-surgery, restaurants are more or less out, and I don’t really miss them, either.  Just give me something quick, easy, small, low in carbs, and full of protein, and I’m good to go.