The good news is there are several ways to enjoy the holidays without gaining weight. And we will cover that in depth in this article. First, let’s take a moment to dissect your internal dialogue regarding holiday eating:
You’ve been enjoying steady weight loss since your bariatric surgery. But now you’re afraid you won’t be able to make it through the holidays. You tell yourself that it’s okay to binge for just one day as this is your “reward” for sticking to your healthy diet all these months.
Stop! This misconception could not be further from the truth. Most holiday foods and drinks are unhealthy and extremely high in sugar and carbs. And the real danger is that research shows we do not resume healthy eating after a pig out during the holidays.
Enjoy the Holidays without Gaining Weight
When Hosting Holiday Parties
When you’re the host, you have complete control of the menu. This makes it that much easier for you to stick to your healthy diet plan. You can swap high-sugar and high-carb ingredients for healthy alternatives. For instance, bariatric recipe developer Carol Bowen Ball uses ground almonds in lieu of bread in her turkey stuffing recipe. Similarly, Carol uses nuts for the crust and substitutes Splenda for the sugar in her holiday cheesecake recipe.
You can make similar swaps for Christmas cakes, cookies, and dessert. You might replace half the sugar in your recipes with FDA- approved artificial sweeteners. And instead of using sprinkles on your cookies, try bitter chocolate curls or chopped nuts.
Eggnog is synonymous with Christmas but its high sugar and alcohol content makes it a strict no-no for you. On the other hand, the last thing that you want to do is raise a mug of herbal tea for the midnight toast! The good news is there is a healthy alternative that will allow you to keep your festive spirit. Try a mug of steaming hot chocolate with cinnamon.
When playing the host, you will probably receive a lot of goodies such as shortbreads and chocolates. You can parcel these holiday treats along with some of the leftovers to family members who were unable to attend. Or gift them to senior neighbors who may be alone for the holidays.
When Attending Holiday Parties
When you CAN speak with the host about your Dietary Restrictions
Christmas celebrations with family or close friends has its perks. You aren’t saddled with preparing a huge meal. And you can call ahead of time and discuss your dietary restrictions with your host.
You can ask if you can help with some of the preparations and keep small portions aside for your meal. For instance, if your host plans to serve Christmas fettuccine (as in the Christmas movie The Holiday), you can make your own zoodles or low-carb pasta and take it over. When helping the host prepare this dish, keep some of the sautéed veggies aside along with a small amount of the sauce and add the pasta you’ve brought from home.
Similarly, you can prepare and carry your own healthy gravy as traditional gravy is made from flour and beef dripping. These small and discrete changes will make it seem like you are eating the same food as everyone else. And is unlikely to raise any eyebrows.
Drinking soda after weight loss surgery is taboo. Instead you can pop a few cans of your favorite bariatric-friendly drink into your host’s refrigerator. As a general rule of thumb, your drink should contain less than 15 calories (for 8 ounces).
When You CANNOT speak with the host about your Dietary Restrictions
There will be times when you are not comfortable discussing your dietary restrictions with your host. Maybe it’s your office potluck party or Christmas dinner with judgmental in-laws. But there’s no need to despair. There are several tricks that you can use to make sure that you don’t fall of the healthy diet wagon.
Call your host a few days in advance. Let her know that you would like to bring a salad or some starters. This way you can fill up on healthy food and take small servings of everything else. And when it comes to desserts, follow the three-bite rule. The first bite and last bites are the best and every bite in between is the same. This means that dessert should be a sliver of cheesecake – just enough for 3 bites. Resist the urge to go all out on desserts! Large quantities of sugar can cause dumping syndrome after bariatric surgery.
Be polite but firm when you refuse all alcoholic drinks. This is important. Alcohol is absorbed very quickly by your system post bariatric surgery. Fruit juices and mulled cider are also not a good idea owing to heir high sugar content. Stick with a glass of cool, refreshing water. Add fresh cranberries and a mint sprig to make it festive and a tablespoon of fruit juice for flavor!
Yes, You Can Enjoy the Holidays without Gaining Weight!
It is important to stick to your healthy eating habits through the holidays. This is because studies show that bariatric surgery is associated with an increased risk of ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Another important aspect of enjoying the holidays is surviving the emotional toll. You may need to fend off critical and prying relatives who want to know exactly what you can and cannot eat. The simplest way to deal with them is to offer a short and sweet reply. Then steer the conversation in a different direction. Often answering a question with a question that then requires your relatives to answer is a quick way to change topics.
Guest post by Anita Fernandes.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life
Author’s Bio: Anita Fernandes has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and mental health issues. She shares her experiences to help others overcome the problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.