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The Holidays After Weight Loss Surgery – Bariatric Edition

Once again the holidays are upon us – quickly approaching are the festivities and all the parties and family gatherings.  There are piles of social events and work related events and the delicious food and drinks that accompany them.  This is the time of that year that it is so easy to pile on a few extra pounds.  Let’s work together to try to make it through the holiday season with no regain.  Let’s talk a bit about the strategies that we can implement in order to start the New Year without the new pounds to lose.

Let’s start with a good solid plan.

Take a look at your holiday calendar and think about each event and how it could affect your goals.  What kinds of foods will you encounter at each gathering?   Don’t just arrive ill-prepared.  Really look at how you will respond to the food and drink pressure.  When you say “no thanks” to the egg-nog, are you ready to receive pressure from others? Are you ready to come up with an excuse for why you don’t want to drink the egg-nog?  Or will you just flat out be honest about the egg-nog being loaded with calories? Making these kinds of decisions prior to arriving to the event is what will save you from starting the New Year with an extra few pounds to take off.  

Eat before you arrive.

Arriving to the event on an empty stomach is not the way to go.  You need a good amount of will power to sit around a pile of food and not overeat.  If you are hungry, the will power will disappear.  Make sure to eat a protein rich meal before you go to the event.  If you are not hungry, you will be better prepared to make better decisions around food.  Again, eat before you arrive.

Bring a holiday dish with you.

Be a good guest and offer to bring a dish for everyone to share.  Even if your hosts insists that you don’t need to – bring one anyways.  Make sure that the dish you bring is in line with your bariatric lifestyle.  Prepare a shrimp platter or meat and veggie platter.  Eat your own dish when you get hungry.  That will ensure that you stick to your plan.

Take a look at the buffet prior to grabbing a plate.

If you make a mental note before hitting the buffet table, you can make healthy food decisions before committing to putting food on your plate.  Have that one dish that you cannot live without but choose vegetables and lean proteins to fill the rest of your plate.  Use your bariatric tool and eat the healthy stuff before eating the foods that you know will pack on the pounds.

What do you really fancy?

Is it the sweet baked beans? Or the mashed potatoes loaded with butter and gravy? Or the rich dessert?  What is it that you truly love and cannot go without?  Have that – and just that.  Take a little portion and truly enjoy it.  It is so easy to fill your plate with loads of foods that you don’t love, but just eat them because they go with that particular holiday event.  

Go slowly at the bar.

A bit of holiday cheer in the form of alcohol can really make or break your calorie intake.  The other problem with drinking alcohol is that it impairs our ability to make good decisions.  After a few alcohol laden drinks, the mashed potatoes and gravy all of a sudden seem too good to pass up.  If you want to have a few drinks, bring your own low calorie wine or spirits and mix with soda water.  Sipping on these types of drinks will save you a lot of calories.  

Laugh, chat, visit, relax.

Focus on the great company around you.  Focus on the great conversations going on.  Laugh.  While eating, focus on going slow and tasting each bite.  Put your fork down between bites and converse with others at the table.  Appreciate your family and friends instead of only focusing on the food.

Let’s get physical.

Why not go for a walk before arriving at the event or suggest a walk after dinner.  If you live in a cold climate, bundle up and go outside and invite others to join you.  You might be surprised that others want to come along and walk off that uncomfortable full feeling.  There is nothing wrong with creating a new activity that all of your family can enjoy such as a stroll after Christmas dinner.

Don’t get stressed out.

Think about how stressed out we can get during the holiday season.  There are so many things that need to be done and so many people to think about.  A lot of us “stress eat” so stress needs to be reduced.  Make sure to get plenty of sleep and use breathing techniques to try and relax.  There are websites you can visit that teach you how to lower stress and maintain a cool head when the holidays start to heat up.

Yes, keep a food log.

If there is one time of the year where you should keep a food log, it is during the holiday season.  You have so many things on your mind and it is so easy to graze and take “just one bite” here and “just one bite” there.  Those little bites can really add up so if you make it a habit to write it all down, you will really be able to see where your calories are coming from.  

Family events that focus on activities.

When most of us think of a family event, we think about food.  All of our social gatherings are based on food in our society today.  Why not do something different and start a new family tradition.  Instead of food focused, be activity focused.  Why not play charades, or put together a big puzzle, or choose a fun board game.  When you are focused on an activity, food loses the focus.  Instead of having food as the center of your event, allow the activity take the front page for a change.  

And most of all – have fun with your friends and family.  

If you need additional support during the holiday season please do reach out to me.  I am here for you throughout your entire journey and we can work though this together.

Reach out with any questions you have and if you want any of our bariatric nutritional plan, you can grab them HERE Bariatric Food Expert

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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