Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine
Christmas After Bariatric Surgery: A Guide to All Things Merry
This year is slipping away at a rate of knots, and you’re likely ready for some Christmas Fun with friends and family. Whatever stage you are at in your weight loss surgery journey, there are many things you can do to stay on your game AND have a festive and enjoyable holiday period.
By entering each situation with a CAN DO mindset, your general outlook will definitely shape your experience. Social gatherings will need to add a different slant outside of just getting together to overindulge food and alcohol. The key here is being firm in your intentions, being proud of yourself for taking charge of your health and being conscious of the places, people, or things you know are totally unhelpful. Plan ahead, find new ways to enjoy yourself, and let your hair down a little at the same time.
1. Stick to Your “Protein Rules”
I know - you’ve heard it all before - but eating your protein first serves so many purposes!
Protein first helps to fill your pouch or sleeve for longer and slows down the release of the food straight into the small intestine.
This may protect you from the dreaded “dumping syndrome” if you are dabbling in the sweet treats that are on offer this time of year.
2. Don’t Save Your Calories
Although it may be tempting to skip meals to save your calories for holiday treats, it’s better to stick to your regular eating patterns.
You are more likely to overindulge if you arrive at the party hungry. You will also find you can manage alcohol better if you have eaten well-rounded meals preceding the festivities.
3. Drink Plenty?!
It's generally encouraged to avoid alcohol for the first year after your bariatric surgery. Drinking plenty of lower-calorie drinks is also a great way to prevent overeating. You can jazz it up in a fancy glass to add some festive flair; water with fresh mint and lime, fresh homemade lemonade, and low fizz kombucha are great options that provide a bit of “party flair”.
If you are at a point where you do enjoy a social drink, stick to 1-2 standard drinks, ensuring you have had something substantial to eat beforehand will help your digestion and liver to manage the alcohol in your drink better.
4. Keep Moving
Festive time with friends and family can be broken up with walks around the neighbourhood, alone or in the company of others.
Walking after a meal that includes more sugar or carbs than you are used to will help reduce the dreaded “blood glucose slump” later on.
Generally, if you have some time off work, Christmas can actually be a fantastic opportunity to increase your activity. More flexibility and time afford more opportunities to plan movement into your day.
This will also set you up to feel great for the beginning of the New Year. Maintaining your regular exercise regime will also help with making better food choices. They just seem to go together.
5. Make Memories
Making new habits around the festive season will also help you find a new focus other than the food. Why not become the “designated memory maker?” Commit to capturing precious moments with friends and family and doing something creative with the images.
The last 2 years will have created a significant gap in the usual family photo album for sure, and making a special effort to recognise how lucky we are to enjoy each other can absolutely be more rewarding than overindulging in more material ways with food and gifts.
Have a look for some easy online photo album software, or print your own images and make a “Christmas Album” each year. It's also a great way to track your healthy lifestyle success over the years!
6. Managing Multiple Outings
It's a social time of year, and some days there will be more than one event to attend. In this case, you can decide what each outing will mean to you regarding food and drink. Pick one event where you will enjoy something sweet and perhaps a glass or two of alcohol.
At the second event, treat it as a regular meal. Maybe offer to bring something along to share, so you know your needs will be met. Enjoy a standard meal and some fresh water. Particularly at Christmas time, your host will understand if you decline their Christmas fare and let them know you’ve been out all day, but you are so happy to be there to enjoy the wonderful company.
7. Advocate for Yourself
Whatever stage you are at in your journey - your end game is always in your sights. People will likely try to talk you into “just having one more” or “come on, you know you want to.”
Be proud you are looking after yourself, and politely let them know you are aware they want you to be a part of the fun, but you have made your own decisions about how that looks for you now.
Reassure them you don’t feel like you’ve missed out. You are just enjoying the togetherness.
Family patterns, trigger foods, and old comfortable habits will all present themselves this time of year. Rehearse a few standard responses that are polite but not open-ended.
“Thank you, but I've been working on my health with my surgical team, and I have made a few new decisions around food and drink.”
“Thank you - but I have been so keen to feel better this year. I am just really enjoying the company and the time to really catch up.”
“Thank you - I know it can be fun - but I really need to keep my focus. I'm still having a great time.”
8. Remember Your Multivitamins!
Holiday time is the best because it's a welcome break from routine. There’s less rushing around and more time to enjoy a holiday either at home or away. Take a break from routine, but remember you need your daily supplements, whatever you are doing.
Continuing the basic outline of your healthy lifestyle even when on holidays means it actually is a lifestyle!
- Enjoy a solid protein-rich breakfast
- Reach for protein-rich snacks
- Exercise regularly
- Take your BN multi twice a day
The team at BN Multi wish you every happiness this Christmas.
Enjoy your loved ones, create new memories, and take stock of how far you’ve come.
BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine