Got Your Guard Up for Holiday Season?
Like pretty much everything else in your life, the holidays are a whole new ballgame after weight loss surgery. Your weight loss surgery diet is strict. It doesn’t include fatty foods and sugary desserts. Going off your weight loss surgery diet can stall weight loss and also cause complications. You could be prone to dumping syndrome if you have the gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, and lap-banders can face obstructions and acid reflux with the wrong foods or too much.
If you let your guard down for the rest of November and December, you can find yourself slipping off of your diet and feeling pretty unhealthy. But by keeping your eyes open and planning ahead, you can keep yourself on track and get through the holiday season feeling proud of yourself.
Watch Carefully to Avoid Extra Calories
Calories show up everywhere at this time of year. Sometimes they don’t even seem that bad, but they add up quickly. Have a bite here and a handful there without paying much attention, and you might be disappointed when you weigh in on New Year’s Day. Don’t let calories slip into your diet.
- First, be aware of the extra calories that are around. They can include any of the following.
- Lunch or dinner out when a friend or family member comes to town.
- Chocolate truffles on the secretary’s desk or the break room at work.
- Cookies from well-meaning friends and family who want you to taste-test their creations.
- Sweetened, pumpkin-spice coffee instead of calorie-free regular coffee.
- Food court fare when you’re holiday shopping at the mall.
- Holiday parties, potlucks, and dinners.
Stick to Your Good WLS Habits
The first line of defense is to stick to your regular good everyday weight loss surgery habits. Log every bite of food you take to keep from getting in hundreds of extra calories from sneaking in a taste here and there. Even if you have to estimate the calories in some of your food, especially if you eat out or at a party, you can keep more discipline if you log your food.
Also, think about your other healthy habits. Keep drinking water between meals. And, protein is still all-important. Make sure you have some at each meal and snack. Focusing on finding lean protein can keep you focused when you’re faced with all kinds of other unhealthy choices.
Arm Yourself Against Temptation
If you’re starving and you’re face-to-face with a basket of chocolate-covered pretzels, you might opt for the sugary, high-carb snack. Unless that is, you have your own weapon. Keep some high-protein and low-calorie choices with you at all times so you never need to go for the junk food in desperation. We have many health snack options at the BariatricPal Store! Take them with you to work, or in your car, purse, or pocket. You can have them if you’re stuck in traffic or at the mall at mealtimes.
- Almonds packed in 1-ounce portions.
- Beef jerky (not fatty beef sticks).
- Cheese sticks
- Roasted soybeans or garbanzo beans
- Tuna pouch
- Work around Your Cravings
You don’t need to deprive yourself completely at holiday time. If there’s a particular taste you want, there’s a good chance you can satisfy your craving with a healthier alternative. For example, you can have lean ham and turkey breast instead of brisket and turkey with the skin on it. Roast green beans with onions, rosemary, and balsamic vinegar instead of having green bean casserole, bake sweet potatoes instead of having candied ones, and puree cauliflower or carrot instead of making mashed potatoes.
Use the same strategy for desserts. Go for sugar-free cocoa mix instead of chocolate fudge when you’re craving chocolate. Munch on plain popcorn while your friends are passing around the caramel corn. For breakfast, make high-protein oatmeal pumpkin pancakes instead of regular pumpkin pancakes.
Plan for a Few Treats
Almost everyone has a few holiday treats that are irresistible. There may be some family recipe that you’ve had at every Christmas for as long as you can remember, or maybe a coworker brings in her cinnamon rolls made from a secret recipe. Whatever it is, you feel as though the holidays are incomplete without it.
There’s no reason not to plan for one or two key treats. Just be sure you plan for them and stick to a single serving. Savor it, and concentrate on the flavors and on the memories and feelings it brings up. Then get right back on your regular diet.
There are a couple of reasons why some weight loss surgery patients might be better off skipping even the occasional special holiday treat. First, don’t start if you’re not sure you can stop. If you’re not confident that you can stick to a single serving, it’s best not to start eating.
Second, some weight loss surgery patients can’t tolerate all kinds of junk food. Fried and doughy foods are risky for lap-band patients, since they can obstruct the band. Gastric bypass and vertical sleeve gastrectomy patients are at risk for dumping syndrome from eating too much sugar or fat at once. And, no weight loss surgery patient should eat too much, since that can stretch the pouch or sleeve.
The holiday season is a happy time, but it’s a struggle if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy. You can prevent it from sneaking up on you and interfering with your weight loss by staying alert and having a plan.