Managing the Holidays After Weight Loss Surgery
Written By: Emma Squillace
While many people with obesity are considering having weight loss surgery – or a non-surgical option like the balloon – some of them worry about what the holidays will be like. And it’s a good question, since so many of our winter holiday celebrations are filled with food. The important thing to remember is that not only does losing weight help people feel more confident with their physical appearance, but it can have a substantial impact on your health and energy levels. Finding a way to manage the holidays with surgery or a balloon really pays off. During this time of year, patients often ask us what it’s like to go through the holidays and what they should focus on. Here are some of our tips:
Being committed to losing weight does not mean you are completely banned from holiday treats. Even people who have recently had weight loss surgery or a balloon, can find ways to fit in their holiday favorites. The key is to plan carefully. For instance, if you know you absolutely love pumpkin pie, save room for a small piece after dinner. In exchange, try to keep carbs extra low during the day, and stick with lean protein and veggies. Likewise, if there are family cookies you truly crave over the holidays, count those into your plan. One day of eating treats will not ruin your commitment to losing weight. It’s only when one day of pie or cookies turns into weeks of eating leftovers, that the weight starts to come back. Also avoid treats you eat out of habit. So many offices have a candy bowl or donuts in the break room all through these holiday months. Try to say no to the office snacks altogether, to make sure the treats you have are the ones you’ve planned for.
Avoid liquid calories
It’s really easy for your calorie count to sky rocket if you indulge in holiday drinks. Eggnog, peppermint mochas, and fancy cocktails can add hundreds of calories to each day. These drinks also lack nutrients and fiber which are so important. Since people with bariatric surgery or a gastric balloon eat less food than they used to, it’s especially important that the calories taken in are supplying the needed nutrients. Stick with water or flavored hot teas to allow your calories to come from foods. At a party, ask for plain water or seltzer water with a slice of lime in it. Your drink will look festive, and people are less likely to pressure you to have a drink if there’s already one in your hand. If you do want an alcoholic beverage, a glass of wine is generally a balanced choice. Where we run into trouble is the high-sugar mixers in cocktails, like juice or soda.
How to manage diet-saboteurs
Do you have a friend or family member who pressures you to eat more than you want, or make unhealthy food choices? If so, you’re not alone! So many people tell us they have at least one influence in their life that gives them a hard time about their attempts to eat healthy. Be prepared to say ‘no thank you’ and don’t feel guilty about turning down food you do not want to eat. This can be especially tricky around the holidays if someone gives you a guilt-trip for not trying the food they’ve made. It’s ok to take a small portion of something that means a lot to you, but you can always say “I’m saving room for dessert!” or “That looks good, but I’m enjoying some of your amazing sweet potatoes instead.”
If you are thinking of having a weight loss procedure, or have had one in the past, holidays can be a tricky time because we’re surrounded by calorie-laden food and drinks. It’s hard to avoid unhealthy traps when so many of our festivities seem to involve food. We advise our patients to focus on the non-food parts of the holidays, to make sure they have all the joy, without worrying about ruining their hard work. Remember to enjoy the holiday treats that you’ve planned for, and know that one day of celebration eating is not going to ruin everything you’ve worked hard for. If you are a surgery or balloon patient, be sure to follow the specific instructions we’ve given you for eating – to have happy and healthy holidays! And if you are thinking about surgery or a balloon, give us a call. We’re happy to answer any questions you have. We can be reached at (855) 690-0565.