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Navigating Thanksgiving After Bariatric Surgery – Bariatric Edition

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family, and, of course, a feast. For those who have undergone bariatric surgery, navigating social events like Thanksgiving can bring unique challenges. However, with a bit of planning and mindful choices, you can enjoy the holiday without compromising your health goals.


**1. Plan Your Plate:

Before filling your plate, survey the options. Choose protein-rich dishes like turkey or lean meat as the centerpiece. Fill the rest of your plate with colorful, non-starchy vegetables. Limit portions of high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-fat foods.


**2. Hydrate and Pace Yourself:

Start your meal with water and take sips between bites. This not only aids digestion but also helps you recognize when you’re full. Eat slowly, savoring each bite. This mindful approach allows your body to signal satiety, preventing overeating.


**3. Bring a Bariatric-Friendly Dish:

If you’re attending a gathering, consider bringing a dish that aligns with your dietary needs. A colorful salad, roasted vegetables, or a protein-rich side can be a great addition to the table and ensures there’s a healthy option for you.


**4. Embrace the Protein:

Turkey is a Thanksgiving staple and a great choice for bariatric patients. It’s rich in protein, which helps maintain muscle mass during weight loss. Avoid the skin and opt for white meat to keep it lean.


**5. Navigate the Sides Wisely:

While traditional Thanksgiving sides may be heavy on carbs, there are often healthier alternatives. Choose roasted vegetables, a small serving of sweet potatoes without excessive toppings, and opt for whole grains if available.


**6. Watch the Liquid Calories:

Beverages can contribute significantly to your calorie intake. Opt for water or other low-calorie, non-sweetened options. If you choose to indulge in an alcoholic beverage, do so mindfully, and be aware of the extra calories.


**7. Listen to Your Body:

Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you start feeling full, pause and assess. Remember, you’re not obligated to finish everything on your plate. Listen to your body’s cues, and stop eating when you feel satisfied.


**8. Stay Active:

Incorporate some physical activity into your Thanksgiving celebration. Whether it’s a pre-meal walk, a post-dinner stroll, or a friendly family game, staying active can help balance the extra calories and contribute to your overall well-being.


**9. Create a Support System:

Communicate with your family and friends about your dietary needs and goals. Having a supportive environment can make a significant difference. Share your journey and let them know how they can contribute to your success.


**10. Remember the True Meaning:

Thanksgiving is about gratitude and spending time with loved ones. Focus on the joy of being together rather than solely on the food. Engage in meaningful conversations, create memories, and express gratitude for your health and the journey you’re on.


By approaching Thanksgiving with mindfulness and planning, you can savor the holiday without compromising your commitment to health. Enjoy the festivities, embrace the spirit of gratitude, and celebrate the progress you’ve made on your bariatric journey.


Healthy Hugs,


About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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