Christmas is here once again. Bringing the warmth and love of family and friends together. It’s a special time for bonding and reflecting on the year we just endured. The holiday season can bring out the best or worse in us. To help make your holiday season a little bit better, here are some simple tips for a healthier you.
1. Stay hydrated
Water is always important for our bodies – especially with the risk of dehydration after bariatric surgery. Making sure we get enough through the day is vital for our bodies to function. While staying hydrated is vital, it is equally important to be mindful of the beverages we choose. Sugary drinks, such as soda, fruit juices, and energy drinks, can provide empty calories and contribute to weight regain after bariatric surgery. These sugary beverages can also irritate the digestive system, potentially causing discomfort or bloating.
Always remember to drink a minimum of 48 to 64 ounces per day!
2. Avoid unconscious eating
Staying clear from the buffet table or kitchen is one way to avoid temptation. Your body may still be adjusting to its new stomach, and having foods that you’re not ready for can lead to dumping syndrome. Have a strategy to avoid overeating and put your weight maintenance above all else. Less is usually more than enough. Having a strategy in place to avoid overeating is crucial for successful weight maintenance. This may involve portion control techniques, such as using smaller plates or containers to limit your food intake. Eating slowly and mindfully, savoring each bite, and listening to your body’s signals of fullness, can also help prevent overconsumption. Additionally, seeking support from healthcare professionals, registered dietitians, or support groups specializing in bariatric surgery can provide valuable guidance and accountability.
3. Watch your portions
You already feel full quicker than before surgery. A little booze, awkward conversation, or family drama can easily revert you back to old habits. Don’t use eating as a crutch and be mindful of not filling up your plate. Remember that your new stomach size requires smaller portions to feel satisfied. Listen to your body’s cues of fullness and stop eating when you feel comfortably satiated. Avoid the temptation to overindulge, even if others around you are eating more. Prioritize your long-term health and weight maintenance goals over temporary satisfaction.
We normally eat with our eyes first. That’s why having the right macronutrient portions is better than having too much on your plate.
4. Avoid or limit alcohol
You may have already noticed that your alcohol tolerance has changed quite drastically since surgery. Many patients can get drunk with very minimal amounts of alcohol. Be mindful of your drinks and how your body reacts. Alcohol is the “triple whammy” of mistakes during the holiday season. It’s the domino effect that can quickly cause you to eat more and lose focus on your ultimate weight loss goal. Don’t risk it. Revision surgery is expensive and has lower success rates than first-time bariatric procedures. Instead of relying on alcohol for enjoyment during social gatherings, consider exploring non-alcoholic alternatives or enjoying the company and conversation without the added factor of alcohol. Remember, your long-term success and overall health should be at the forefront of your decision-making, especially when it comes to your relationship with alcohol and its potential impact on your weight loss journey.
5. Eat & drink slowly
Avoid uncomfortable stomach aches and pains by eating and drinking at a slow pace. Take small bites and eat protein first. It takes roughly 15 to 20 minutes to feel full once you start eating. Pace your food out so you don’t stretch your pouch or cause stomach discomfort. Incorporating protein into your meals is essential as it promotes satiety and provides the necessary nutrients for healing and maintaining muscle mass.
6. Make a healthy dish
If you’re going to a gathering, bringing a healthy homemade dish is always a good idea. For my family, no holiday season goes according to plan. So stay safe with your own fallback options if all else fails. Consider packing a small portion of a nutrient-dense dish that you enjoy and find satisfying. It can be a salad, a vegetable-based side dish, a lean protein option, or a healthy snack. This way, you can rely on your own prepared food if necessary, ensuring that you have a backup plan to support your commitment to a balanced and healthy eating routine.
7. Aim for fruits and vegetables
To enhance the flavor of your vegetables or add some pizzazz to your fruit, consider mixing up a delicious dip. There are numerous dip options available, ranging from yogurt-based dressings to hummus or homemade salsa. Many fruits are low in calories and provide nutrients and fiber that can be filling. Don’t be afraid to enjoy some vegetables as well and try mixing some dip to add a bit of flavor. Dips can provide an extra burst of flavor while keeping the calorie content in check, allowing you to enjoy your fruits and vegetables with a tasty twist.
8. Avoid the “snack” bowls
The snack bowl is the last place you want to be. It’s best to avoid temptation and steer clear of the chips, candies, and other sweet and salty goodies. Stocking your pantry and refrigerator with healthier snack alternatives can help you resist the allure of the snack bowl. Choose items such as fresh fruit, raw or roasted nuts and seeds, low-fat yogurt, whole-grain crackers, vegetable sticks with hummus, or homemade granola bars. These options provide a satisfying combination of flavors, textures, and nutrients, satisfying your cravings while keeping your stomach happy. Your stomach will thank you.
9. Soup is a good choice
Healthy soup is an easily digestible and delicious dish that your friends and family can enjoy. By opting for healthy soup, you can enjoy a flavorful and satisfying meal while supporting optimal digestion. Whether you prefer a hearty vegetable soup, a comforting chicken noodle soup, or a nourishing lentil soup, there are numerous recipes available that cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. This could make it much easier for your digestive system to process without causing too many complications.
10. Enjoy yourself
Might be the hardest thing to do at times but remember that you’re going through a journey that only you can control. This holiday takes some time to reflect on your self-improvement and realize that this is only the beginning of your new healthier life. Transforming your lifestyle and prioritizing your health requires dedication, perseverance, and self-awareness. Embrace the holiday season as an opportunity to reflect on your progress and celebrate the positive changes you’ve made. Acknowledge the obstacles you’ve overcome and the milestones you’ve achieved, no matter how small they may seem.
As you reflect on your journey, be kind to yourself and recognize that progress takes time. It’s natural to face occasional setbacks or moments of temptation, especially during festive occasions. Use these experiences as learning opportunities and reminders of your commitment to your health and well-being.