Starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s Day, we face a full 2 months of temptation, stress and less time for physical activity. Holidays do not have to lead to weight gain – with some smart strategizing and careful pre-planning, you can get through without those added and unwanted pounds!
Here are some helpful tips to keep you on track and still enjoy the holiday season:
1. Don’t make holidays all about the food.
Holidays are also about making memories with family and friends. Why not start some new traditions? Plan family outings – like apple picking, pumpkin carving or adding in a walk after Thanksgiving dinner.
2. Eat your protein first, even on the holidays!
Don’t forget your bariatric eating plan –eat your turkey or ham (or other protein food) first, followed by vegetables and starches. You can still enjoy your holiday meal, just in smaller portions!
3. Don’t go to holiday parties or events overly hungry.
Being famished at a holiday party just makes indulging in high fat/sugar and high calorie foods all the more tempting. It is much easier to over eat, when you are starving at the start. Additionally, we don’t make the best food choices when our stomach is growling! Make sure you’re following your bariatric plan, so you do not arrive at a holiday event starving and can make smarter choices.
4. Stay hydrated! Holiday season is a busier time for most of us.
Don’t forget to take the time to get your fluids in. We can confuse hunger for thirst – you might be more inclined to eat, when you really need to be sipping your fluids. Continue to take a calorie free beverage with you everywhere you go so you stay hydrated.
5. Eat slowly!
Savor the flavor, the texture and aroma of the foods you eat. Eating slowly is part of your bariatric regimen, but is also helps you release the hormones that make you feel full!
6. Modify holiday recipes.
Make holiday recipes more bariatric friendly. Use less fats and sugars in recipes to lower the calorie count.
7. Use sugar free mints or mint-flavored breath strips.
A strong mint flavor can be a deterrent to over eating at holiday parties. Food does not taste as good when you have a strong minty flavor in your mouth. They are quick and very convenient way to put the brakes on holiday over eating.
8. Watch the alcohol.
It is not just the food that is in abundance, it is also the alcohol. Alcohol of any type: wine, liquor and beer are all high in calories. Mixed drinks can be extremely high in calories, especially egg nog and other similar holiday spirits. If you drink, do so in moderation and responsibly.
9. Offer to bring a healthy dish!
If you are going to a holiday event – bring a healthy appetizer, side dish or dessert to share. At least you know there is a bariatric friendly food for you to enjoy.
10. Don’t skimp with your physical activity.
During the holidays we are all busier than usual. Do not let your physical activity routine take a back seat. Get your exercise in – it helps burn off those extra holiday calories and is a great stress reliever!
11. Get rid of leftovers!
I often tell people – We don’t gain weight over the holidays due to what we eat on the actual holiday – it is all the “goodies” that are left over that we graze on for weeks between the holidays that cause the weight gain. If you have a lot of treats around or hosting a holiday party, give your guests leftovers to take home, donate the food or freeze it for a meal later on. If the treats are out of the house or frozen they are less of a temptation.
Don’t regain the weight you worked so hard to lose. Weight gain does not have to be inevitable during the holidays. Plan ahead, stay hydrated, get in your exercise and make memories!
Dietitian’s Corner by Lori Skurbe
Dietitian’s Corner is a monthly column for post-op and pre-op patients of bariatric surgery in NJ written by Prime Surgicare’s Lori Skurbe. Lori has been a dietitian for over 20 years with an extensive background in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education.