Nutrition: Staying on Target During the Holidays
November 2, 2023
Written By: Janet L. Klein, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES
The holiday season is a time for celebration, family gatherings, and, of course, indulgent feasts. For those on the journey of bariatric surgery, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet during this time can be challenging. In this support group blog post, we’ll discuss practical tips and strategies to help you stay on track with your nutrition during the holidays.
- Plan Ahead: Start your holiday season with a well thought out plan. Consider speaking to your Bariatric Dietitian Educator or your Bariatric Surgeon for personalized guidance. Having a plan can help you stay focused on your nutritional goals.
- Portion Control: The key to staying on track is portion control. While it’s tempting to load up your plate, opt for smaller portions of your favorite holiday dishes.
- Prioritize Protein: Protein is crucial for both pre and post-bariatric surgery patients. If you are pre-op, while following your pre-op diet you want to eat protein first because it will help you achieve satiety (a feeling of fullness) sooner which will help you achieve #2 above (portion control.) If you are post-op, you want to prioritize protein first because it will aid with wound healing, while simultaneously preventing you from becoming malnourished. Make sure to include lean protein sources in your holiday meal, such as turkey, chicken, or tofu. Eat protein first, then non-starchy vegetables second, and save just tastes of starch for last.
- Stay Hydrated: Don’t forget to stay well hydrated during the festivities. Sip water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, which can lead to overeating.
- Mindful Eating: Practice mindful eating by savoring each bite. Chew your food thoroughly and engage in conversation between bites. This can help you recognize when you’re full and avoid overeating.
- Healthy Swaps: Consider making healthier substitutions in your holiday recipes. For example, use low fat Greek yogurt (lower in fat and higher in protein) in place of sour cream, or cauliflower mash (lower in carbohydrate) instead of traditional mashed potatoes.
- Bring your Own Dish: If you’re attending a holiday gathering, bring a nutritious dish that you can enjoy without guilt. This ensures you have at least one safe option to eat.
- Don’t Skip Early Meals: Don’t save your calories for a large meal or to enable room to consume “goodies” later in the day on a Holiday. Stick to your usual routine with breakfast and lunch, opt for small portions of the main meal served later in the day, and just tastes of dessert (if you have room left.)
- Support System: Lean on your Bariatric Surgery Support Group during the holidays. Share your concerns and successes with those who understand your journey. They can offer advice and encouragement.
- Limit Alcohol and Sugary Drinks: Alcohol and sugary beverages can be empty calories. Limit your intake, and opt for water or sugar-free alternatives to be consumed in between meals only.
- Self-Compassion: Remember that the holiday season is about more than just food. Be kind to yourself and don’t feel guilty if you indulge a little. Pat yourself on the back even if you maintain your weight without losing anything during the holiday season. What’s important is getting back on track afterwards to continue your successful weight loss journey.
Staying on track with your nutrition during the holidays may be challenging, but with planning, portion control, and a supportive community, it’s definitely achievable. Remember that your health and well-being are worth the effort, and you’ve got the strength to make it through this festive season with your bariatric surgery goals intact. Enjoy the holidays while also staying mindful of your nutrition choices. Keep on top of your weekly measurable goals, even during this time for optimal success.
Note: For additional tips and information on Nutrition: Staying on Track During the Holidays, see previous bariatric surgery support group blog posts:
Note: For additional tips and information on exercise and plastic surgery after bariatric surgery see previous blog posts:
- 11/01/22: “Staying on Track During the Holidays.”
- 11/05/21: “How to Handle Holiday Meals and Celebrations.”
- 11/09/20: “Navigating the Holidays Before & After Weight Loss Surgery.”
- 11/04/19: “Navigating Thanksgiving While on Your Weight Loss Journey.”