At a support group meeting, Liz and Dr. John Yadegar’s patients discussed how you can enjoy the holidays after weight loss surgery.

“The holidays, as great as they are, always focus around food.  For me, being all these years out, I can eat more than I used to and it can be scary.  Once you step on that slippery slope, you can get into trouble.  So people get frustrated with how to handle the holidays.  How can you make the right choices during the holidays?  Honestly, only you can tell yourself what is right for you and how you should do it.  You need to have a behavior pattern that you’ve established even before you get into the holidays.  You already know how compliant you are or how non-compliant you are.  You may have already dealt with issues at birthday parties or other celebrations, and have dealt with the temptations.  My husband makes cinnamon rolls and this year I think it’s going to be more of a challenge for him since he can’t have them this year like he used to.” (Liz’s husband had sleeve surgery.)

You’ve been through the holidays.  Have there been challenges with it?

pic thanksgiving turkey

“I have challenges everyday.  I have to pay attention to what I’m doing.  I really have to plan.  When I just let it go, things don’t go well.”

“Yes, sugar cookies.  I can eat two of them but that’s it.  Thankfully I still dump so that stops me from having any more.”

“All the holiday candy.  From the beginning of October until the new year it seems like it’s everywhere.  I do have a couple each week.  I’ve found that if I allow myself the weekly treat then I don’t eat a bunch at once.”

If you’ve had the sleeve  or you don’t dump with your gastric bypass, you’re going to need such self-awareness during the holidays. You know we’ve all gone to someone’s house and they’ve tried to get us to eat just  a little bit.  But you look at it thinking, “If I try it it’s not going to go well.”  And then you think in your mind, “Gosh if I don’t try it I’ll hurt their feelings.”

 What do you do? Because some people are unrelenting saying, “You’ve got to try this.  I made it especially for you.”  Have you ever  given in?

“You need to have a statement that you use to tell people that your health is important and that you’re following your surgeon’s guidelines.  You can say it nicely, politely, but stand firm.”

How do you plan if you know you’re going somewhere and they’re going to be serving a huge meal?

“What I’ve decided I have to do is make sure I don’t get to that point that I’m ravenously hungry.”

“If you practice all year the holidays aren’t quite so hard.  There are always birthdays at work, get-togethers on the weekends, and that’s when I practice my ninja skills.  I focus my attention on having fun & talking with friends.  It’s not all about eating anymore.”

“I still avoid alcohol.  I had been letting myself have some but I realized I was snacking more when I was drinking, so I stopped.”

“I thought after I had weight loss surgery I wouldn’t be obsessed with food anymore but I still am.  But this is different.  I concentrate on the nutrition of my food and taking in the right amount of protein.  I definitely plan ahead.”

Before I had surgery I remember we would go to my family’s house for the holidays and  have these huge meals.  I would actually call my brother-in-law and ask him what we were having for Christmas dinner.  Oh lobster?  Oh prime rib?  And then I would be so excited about it for the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I couldn’t wait to get there.  I remember gorging myself.  I would actually battle people for the beef bones. 

“In my family we make tamales and I would eat them from Christmas eve until New Year’s day.  Now I still help make them and I enjoy a bite here and there, but I only have one whole tamale on Christmas eve.”

“I had surgery two years ago and before that the holidays meant he season of eating.  It was my favorite time of year.  It’s still my favorite but I can’t believe I used to focus on food that whole time.  Now my kids and I volunteer, make gifts, and watch old holiday movies.”

“It’s still hard for me to go out to restaurants during the holidays.  I order a full meal but can’t eat all of it and I feel a little sad.”

“I’ve had that too.  I’ve even had friends comment that when my food comes at a restaurant I actually look sad.  Well I am.  It takes time to get over the intense love for food but it does lessen.”

All the holidays revolve around being social and food.  You need to plan and be prepared for social events and you need to know your limits.

Tips to keep the scale steady during the holidays:

If you don’t love it, don’t eat it.
Choose protein, veggies and fruits.
Put food on a plate and sit down.  Don’t graze.
Enjoy every bite and take your time.
Include physical activity everyday.
Avoid or limit liquid calories.
Eat three balanced meals.
Have ready-to-drink protein shakes and healthy snacks with you while running errands and shopping.
Don’t arrive at a party hungry.
Drink plenty of water.
Google lighter versions of your favorite holiday recipes.
Don’t bring leftovers home with you.  If you’re hosting the party, send extras home with your guests.