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Should Gastric Bypass Patients get Discounts at Restaurants?

Posted by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:39 PM
  • 93 Replies
People who have had gastric bypass surgery qualify for discounts at popular restaurants, including buffets.
Enlarge coolmikeol/Flickr.com

People who have had gastric bypass surgery qualify for discounts at popular restaurants, including buffets.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans turn to stomach-shrinking bariatric procedures, hoping for extreme weight loss.

All of these reduced appetites might seem like bad news for the restaurant business, but surgeon-distributed food discount cards aim to make dining out cheaper and more practical for gastric bypass patients.

But is this kind of encouragement really a good idea?

 

To accommodate the patients' reduced stomach volumes, the cards, called WLS (Weight Loss Surgery) cards, ask restaurants to allow patients to order a smaller portion of food for a discounted price.

These cards aren't a new phenomenon — they've been around in the U.S. at least since the 1990s, and a similar discount program was proposed to city council members in Campinas, Brazil earlier this year.

And like the surgery itself, the WLS cards have grown in popularity, says Ann Rogers, director at the Penn State Surgical Weight Loss program. "Now there's so much word of mouth about it, that if we forget to give them out [after surgery], the patient says, 'What about those discount cards?'," Rogers says.

Some popular U.S. restaurants accept the cards. For example, Cracker Barrel restaurants allow patients to order from the inexpensive kids' menu or order a lunch-sized portion for dinner. In a statement issued to the Salt, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants say that they are happy to do the same.

Even "all-you-can-eat" buffet restaurant Golden Corral, provides a discounted buffet price upon seeing a proof of surgery card in some locations.

Though gastric bypass surgery leaves the patient with a stomach pouch only about the size of an egg, restaurants, especially buffets, still spell trouble for many patients. Unlimited portions and heavily-processed, quickly digestible foods that keep patients from feeling full, make it difficult to keep the weight off, says Rogers.

Golden Corral could not provide a spokesperson to respond to our inquiries, but it and other companies have made efforts in recent years to add healthier choices to their buffet offerings.

However, even if the patient makes better choices, friends and family who come along may not do the same. "I definitely discourage patients from going to buffet style restaurants, it's danger for everybody," Rogers says.

In fact, Rogers says that she discourages her patients from eating at any restaurant. So why distribute a discount card that seems to encourage dining out?

Rogers says that it's OK for patients to use the WLS card and splurge at the buffet every once in awhile, and the card also encourages them to order smaller meals at other restaurants. If patients make healthy choices about 75 percent of the time, they'll keep the weight off, she says.

But just as the buffet can have negative family health consequences, patients who are diligent about eating well a majority of the time can also encourage healthy habits among friends and family. Rogers says that patients who attend regular follow up appointments, some featuring weigh-ins and healthy cooking classes, retain their lost weight about 70 percent of the time.

"For most of our patients, when the patients change their habits, it changes the eating habits of the whole household. It's pretty educational," she says.

Changing habits is critical, she says. It's a myth that the stomach surgery is a permanent weight loss cure. After surgery, "the [hunger] hormones go down and stay down for a year or two. But, slowly, the hunger starts to come back," Rogers says.

New World Peace

by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:39 PM
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Replies (1-10):
GotSomeKids
by Silver Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:43 PM
7 moms liked this

The idea is almost oxymoronic.  And, if gastric bypass patients are getting them, I want one for my kids too.

The better option would be to just not go to those places.

_Kissy_
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:46 PM
1 mom liked this

Who goes around advertising they're a gastric bypass patient?


The surgery is meant for a drastic change in lifestyle habits. Sitting in front of a buffet after having surgery is a risky idea. There is guidelines you must follow through for it to work for you. If someone wants to gorge after doing such a risky surgery then they was never serious about losing weight.

My friend had the surgery 2 1/2 yrs ago she went from 375 to 140. She is back up to 270 and has numerous health problems.

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:46 PM
2 moms liked this

Why go to a buffet if you are a gastric bypass patient?  The food is never good, it's only about quantity. Rather than a discount people could ask to order off the kids menu or the seniors menu if they have one.  Or get a la carte.

Lizardannie1966
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:49 PM
2 moms liked this

If you've had this type of surgery, why would you be going to an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant to begin with?

Should a recent patient of this type of surgery choose to go to a restaurant like this, they should pay the same amount because it's been their choice to go there to begin with.

Claire-Huxtable
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:49 PM
No. Don't go if you cannot afford their prices.
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smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:50 PM


Quoting stacymomof2:

Why go to a buffet if you are a gastric bypass patient?  The food is never good, it's only about quantity. Rather than a discount people could ask to order off the kids menu or the seniors menu if they have one.  Or get a la carte.

Some popular U.S. restaurants accept the cards. For example, Cracker Barrel restaurants allow patients to order from the inexpensive kids' menu or order a lunch-sized portion for dinner.

GotSomeKids
by Silver Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:53 PM
1 mom liked this

Even if they accept the cards, it is better if these patients just didn't go in the first place.

Quoting smalltowngal:


Quoting stacymomof2:

Why go to a buffet if you are a gastric bypass patient?  The food is never good, it's only about quantity. Rather than a discount people could ask to order off the kids menu or the seniors menu if they have one.  Or get a la carte.

Some popular U.S. restaurants accept the cards. For example, Cracker Barrel restaurants allow patients to order from the inexpensive kids' menu or order a lunch-sized portion for dinner.


krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:54 PM
1 mom liked this

What a horrible idea.

OttawaHoney
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:55 PM
2 moms liked this
No. OMG i used to hate it when I waited tables and they whipped those cards out. A lot of people can't eat a full portion at a restaurant. Box it and take it home. I hated the idea even more after I worked a med surg floor for a year that did gastric surgeries. More people than you think stretch that golf ball size pouch right back out. A business owner should not feel obligated to honor anything like that unless they want to.
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grandmab125
by Gold Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM
2 moms liked this

Ludicrous.  By doctors handing out those cards, they are shirking their responsibilities to educate their patients. They need to educate people on personal responsibility....not here, go where you can eat all you want, but don't ...and maybe they'll give you a discount.

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