How to manage Christmas after bariatric surgery
It can be challenging to manage your weight, motivation, and behaviours during the leadup to, and over, Christmas after bariatric surgery.
This can be due to many factors including that the numerous gatherings and parties might mean there’s an abundance of food, sweets, and alcohol on offer. Plus, if you’re travelling or on holidays, you may have limited cooking facilities or food supplies.
To top it off, many people get into the “it’s Christmas… why not? I’ll start my diet in the new year” mindset.
Read on to learn how you can manage the Christmas period or download Christmas guide.
How do you manage these temptations and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the Christmas period?
Having a game plan for how you’ll manage over the holiday’s is the key to success. If you’re eating out or eating at a party, look up the menu prior to prepare. Otherwise, eating a small meal before you go out is a great way to ensure you’re eating healthy and nutritious foods, and not overindulge.
Additionally, don’t try new foods on Christmas day or at a party. It’s not uncommon after bariatric surgery to have gastrointestinal upset and food intolerances develop and trying new foods can set these issues off.
Set your boundaries
Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean that your health plan should go out the window. Below are a few tips to help you stick to a healthy lifestyle throughout the silly season.
- Set limits on alcohol
- Commit to physical activity
- Decide on your Christmas menu and stick to it
- Think about the quantity you’re preparing – don’t over cook
- Send your guests home with a ‘doggy bag’ (you don’t need Christmas leftovers for a week)
- Tell you family and friends about why you’ve committed to a healthy Christmas lifestyle.
Christmas is one day of the year, not a week or month! Be flexible with your diet and activity on this day and get straight back into your routine the following day.
Eating as you normally would when it’s not the Christmas season is a great way to ensure you’re sticking to your healthy lifestyle plan and doing everything you can to maintain weight loss after bariatric surgery. As with regular eating, the same rules apply:
- Eat your protein first
- Eat slowly
- Avoid having fluids and food at the same time
- No longer than 30 minutes to eat your meal
- Stop when you feel content.
With the hot Australian weather, it’s easy to confuse dehydration with hunger or appetite. Make sure you’ve had plenty of fluids prior to your events and make it a rule to always start with a glass of water when you arrive. Something important to remember to help you get through Christmas post bariatric surgery is to be mindful of liquid calories such as fruit juices, punch, alcohol, and egg nogg. As with food, you should also not try new drinks on the day as this can cause stomach upset.
Christmas is a great time to enjoy all your favourite foods, in small serves. Making the switch to healthy alternatives is a great way you can enjoy Christmas lunch without skipping out on your healthy lifestyle plan. Choosing fruit or vegetable-based stuffing mixes rather than sausage meat and cook the stuffing separately to avoid it absorbing the fat during cooking.
Fresh seafood is great, think about including prawns or a baked whole fish – just be mindful of high fat dressings and sauces! Furthermore, seasonal fruit salad with custard or baked stone fruit with a small serve of ice cream are excellent options for something sweet.
Be mindful and aware
Being mindful of how you’re feeling and what you are eating is an important part of maintaining healthy weight loss post-surgery. Check in with yourself by asking the following questions:
- How am I feeling today?
- How is the meal I’m having?
- How can I slow down and enjoy every bite?
- How can I be more present?
- Am I snacking/grazing – Why?
For some, alcohol is a big part of an Australian Christmas. Having a plan in place regarding your alcohol intake will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle at Christmas and beyond. It’s also important to be educated, did you know that alcohol makes you dehydrated and increases your hunger?
Ensuring you follow every alcoholic drink with some water and eating a nutritious meal prior to having a drink will help you manage your alcohol intake.
Opting for a lower calorie drink where possible or consider mixed drinks like champagne and orange juice, wine and soda, and non-alcoholic drinks is also a great option. This may also include non-alcoholic wine, beer, and champagne.
Get back into your routine
It’s important to remember that Christmas is a holiday, not a holiweek or a holimonth. Don’t be concerned if your weight has fluctuated over this period. It’s important to note that regaining control is empowering and shifts the control back to you and not the food.
You’ve worked so hard to get to this point in your journey, acknowledge this and be proud. Next Christmas and the following Christmas will be that much easier because you’ve put in the effort this time around. Enjoying the festive season and avoiding weight gain is made a lot easier with a little thought and planning.
Christmas isn’t about the food, it’s about people coming together, enjoying their company, and reflecting on the year that has been.
Nobody is perfect! Setbacks do happen. Be mindful of this, acknowledge it and move forward but most importantly, savour the quality time with your friends and family and the food that passes our lips.