Have a Bari Merry Christmas
Holiday eating tips to keep the Grinch away after bariatric surgery
If you are recovering from bariatric surgery, the holidays can be particularly rough. So many sweets! So many feasts! The temptation to indulge a little to avoid holiday FOMO can be overwhelming.
To help, Dr. Gritsus has a few traditions he shares with his New Jersey bariatric patients each year to help them survive the holidays. Here are some ideas that will help you stay on track with your recovery – without feeling like you’re missing out on the celebration!
Keep a “Bariatric Advent Calendar” (no, not the ones with chocolate!)
If you’ve already had bariatric surgery from Dr. Gritsus, you’re likely already keeping track of your daily food and water intake and attempting to stay within your goals. However, the holidays can easily throw a wrench in those plans. This can lead to guilt and a feeling of hopelessness like you’ve fallen off a wagon and there’s no way back on track.
Keeping a physical calendar is a fantastic way to use positive reinforcement and forgiveness to stay on target. With a “Bariatric Advent Calendar,” you can easily mark a check on days where you’ve maintained your goal or an “X” on days where you’ve slipped. At the end of each week, you can tally up the checks and attempt to improve that score the next week. If you get an “X”, it’s not ideal – but it’s just one day. Tomorrow’s another opportunity to earn that checkmark.
Bring a healthy dish to the dinner
While many of this year’s holiday parties will be virtual due to the coronavirus, there will still be many families who find ways to get together and enjoy a socially distanced holiday meal. If you do wind up going to one of these events, bring a dish that fits your dietary requirements. That way, you’ll have at least one thing you know you can eat in moderation and stay on track.
Eat before you go
It can be tempting to try to “save up calories” before a family dinner so that you can enjoy the event. This is a great way to get into trouble. For one thing, your surgery won’t allow you to be able to eat the way you did before, so eating a single large meal could be troublesome. Also, if you show up to the party hungry, you are more likely to overindulge. Better to stick to your routine, and nibble on a few of your favorites. That way you won’t feel like you’re missing out, but you’ll also be able to hold on to your willpower.
Avoid putting yourself in situations where you can “graze” or eat mindlessly. If you plan to socialize at an event, do that. If you plan to eat, let the food command your attention. Try to have your conversation space somewhere that isn’t near the buffet table, where you can grab food off the table whenever you get a craving.
Careful with alcohol
For one thing, alcohol is just empty calories and sugar. If you do plan to indulge, spend those calories on food, not booze. Also, alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes it easier to justify indulging in other ways.
If you do have a drink, it’s important to note that alcohol will affect you differently than it did before your surgery. Let your drink settle and assess your situation (preferably over a glass of water).
Enjoy the Holidays with UCLA’s Holiday nog
A while back, the UCLA Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health came up with a bariatric-friendly recipe for eggnog. Since then, that recipe has become something of a staple at bariatric centers around the country – including Dr. Gritsus’ New Jersey office. If you’re absolutely craving a little holiday nog, here is a great way to get that egg nog feeling – without the egg nog calories or guilt:
- 4 bananas
- 1 ½ cups skim milk
- 1 ½ cups plain nonfat yogurt
- ¼ tsp rum extract
Top each cup with a little nutmeg – and voila! 4 servings of delicious “egg” nog for the holidays.
Remember What Holidays are About
Part of the bariatric recovery process is about finding ways to find true joy in your life – not to mask your feelings with food. The holidays are a tremendous opportunity to lean into that emotional growth. Reconnect with an old friend. Share a little moment with a relative. Find a project you can do that makes a thoughtful gift for a loved one – instead of an unhealthy snack for yourself.
Avoiding the spiral of boredom or negative emotions will be crucial to your recovery long after this holiday season has come and gone. If you need more tips on how to stay on track during the holidays, please contact Dr. Gritsus’ office. We have solutions to help you remain focused on your recovery during the holidays and all year long.