Many patients are often concerned about Christmas and the holidays, as they think after surgery they will not be able to enjoy this time of year as much as they used to. As we have talked about many times before, weight loss surgery is a tool that you will work with long-term. Therefore, it is important that everyone still enjoys Christmas and getting together with family and friends! We have put together some tips for Christmas day and the holidays to make sure you enjoy it as much as you always have, while still maintaining your new lifestyle! Read below for our suggestions and we would love to hear your ideas also!
Tips for Christmas and Holidays after Weight Loss Surgery:
1. Protein first still applies
And the good thing about this is that there are usually lots of great protein choices available on Christmas day. Roast chicken, turkey or lamb and fresh seafood are great options. Eat this part of your meal first as you normally would and you are off to a great start!
2. Load up on vegetables
Christmas in summer means salads are typically on Christmas menus. Aim to have these be the next part of your meal as normal.
3. Think about your drinks
It is important to keep hydrated and not get so busy that you forget to drink! Go for low calorie options such as soda water with lime, diet soft drinks, and diet cordials. Aim to have no alcohol, as it contributes absolutely no nutrition to your body, but does contain lots of calories. If you wish to have some though, keep to no more than 1-2 standard drinks.
It is probably a bit unrealistic for most of us to say that we are not going to have any dessert on Christmas Day. This is where the 80/20 rule that we talk about comes in.
Try to stay away from heavy desserts if you can. For example traditional Christmas pudding is likely to sit very heavy and is high in calories too. Try to go for something lighter i.e. a small amount of Pavlova with fresh fruit. Only have dessert if you feel like it and are not overfull from lunch or dinner. Stick to a small amount as even if you do feel like it, you will still be quite full from your meal maybe without realizing. And remember if you are going to have some – enjoy it! No guilt!
5. Explaining to family
Christmas is often a time when the whole extended family comes together, including family that you may not have seen for a while, or told about your decision to have weight loss surgery. This can be a tricky one – as family are often very concerned about the small portions of food you are eating. Try to explain by saying that your are already quite full from all the lovely Christmas treats, and remember to listen to your body and eat accordingly. You know your body best!
6. Managing multiple big meals
Some patients find themselves visiting different members of the family across the day, and are presented with a big feast at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You don’t want to be rude so you try to eat as much as you can. Following surgery you will not be able to do this obviously, so it is important to remember this, and explain to family and friends if needed. Stick to a regular size meal appropriate for your stage, and similar to what you would have at each meal at home. Keep other snacks and treats to a minimum, and if you do go for a small amount of dessert stick to lunch or dinner, not at both.
7. Do not skip meals the day before or after to make up for over-indulging!
Skipping meals to compensate for overindulging on Christmas day is not the answer. We want to maintain a regular meal pattern and continue to eat to our hunger and satiety. Aim to keep over-indulgences to a minimum on Christmas in the first place.
8. For bypass patients – beware of Dumping Syndrome
Often patients experience their first episode of Dumping Syndrome out of the home or at social occasions. Be aware of this and remember it can be both food and drinks high in sugar that can cause it. Try to keep these choices to a minimum so you can hopefully avoid this. We do not want you feeling unwell in the middle of Christmas Day!
9. If travelling, don’t forget to pack your vitamins!
This is an important one!
And that’s it! Christmas can still be very enjoyable after weight loss surgery. You just have to remember our basic principles of protein and low starch veg 80% of the time, and a few Christmas treats here and there in the other 20%. Just try to keep things balanced so that you do not make yourself sick by becoming too overfull! We would love to know your suggestions and tips too!