Surviving and Thriving Through The Holiday Season
The holiday season can be a daunting time for anyone on a diet, and it's even more difficult post weight loss surgery, especially in the early stages of returning to eating 'normal' food. But it doesn't have to be, I've put together my top 10 tips for how to get through the holiday season after bariatric surgery, so you can stress less and enjoy what the holidays are really about without depriving yourself of anything.
Top 10 tips to survive the holiday season
The holidays can be a busy time where many of us sometimes forget to get our water in, and the old saying goes (not sure if it's a saying or I made it up), to lose water weight, you need to up your water consumption. Often we mistake thirst for hunger, so we snack or eat when really our body is feeling as dry as a desert. Aim for 2.5 - 3 litres of water a day, and if you're hungry an hour after eating, try a glass of water before you reach for a snack.
Pack in the protein
The cardinal rule for every bariatric soldier, is protein first, whether it's supplements or real food we're always focused on our protein, as it helps prevent muscle loss.
If you're heading to a holiday party, or even just craving a little carb-filled holiday meal, don't forget to include protein in your day. Have a high protein breakfast or lunch (try my easy, creamy scrambled eggs with a little bit of smoked salmon), not only will it up your protein for the day, it will keep you satisfied for longer, preventing extra snacking.
Move your body
I am not saying spend the holiday season slogging it out in the gym, or doing a million killer workouts. Grab the family and head on an adventure, explore a new town, go for a park run or walk, cycle along the beach, the holidays were made to spend it with your nearest and dearest so take some time out and really spend some quality time with them, while moving your body.
Additional tip: Dancing is the best cardio workout, and super fun, so shake ya tailfeather at all the holiday parties, you'll be working out without even realising it.
Bring a plate
The great thing about holiday parties is getting together and sharing a great meal with even better company. Bring a healthy dish to share to your holiday party, that way you will know exactly what is in it, if you choose to track your food. It is also a great way to ensure you will be able to eat something, if you're in the pre-op diet stage or the early stages of post bariatric surgery life.
Share plate ideas: Devilled eggs and charcuterie boards are always a winner in our house.
Focus on fibre
Repeat after me, fibre equals fullness, and also helps with the ol' bowel situation many of us are accustomed to post weight loss surgery. Studies have shown that increased dietary fibre, can potentially reduce your overall calorie intake.
Fibre filled foods: add some nuts, fruits, veggie sticks and seed crackers to your charcuterie board to make it fibre filled or maybe make a crowd pleasing hummus to a both fibre and protein.
The holiday season can be a stressful time, from planning your social calendar to planning your menu and gifts, the list goes on and on. Stress is never your friend and leads to high levels of cortisol, which is also never a good thing. High levels of cortisol have been known to be linked to cravings for junk food, and greater food intake (emotional eating anyone?) Take some time out of the busy holiday schedule for yourself, go for a walk, take a relaxing bath, or meditate.
Try a bit of everything
Deprivation is never the key to sustained weight loss and overall satisfaction in your life. Weight loss surgery is a decision to change your lifestyle, while still living and enjoying life, and the holiday season is a time to enjoy yourself. Whether you're in a restaurant having a meal with friends or it's Christmas or Easter dinner, if you want something, try it. Don't deprive yourself, you don't have to have an entire serve, sometimes a forkful of cake is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth (and it won't make you gain weight, scouts honour).
It's just one meal (or 3 or 4).
If you eat three meals a day for a week, that's a total of 21 meals, 21 opportunities for you to make 'good' food choices, one meal is not going to ruin a week of healthy food choices, one meal is also not going to make you gain back every pound or kilo you've lost. So enjoy the one or two or even three meals over the holiday season, and let it get you down.
Remember: Just because your last meal wasn't the most nutritious, you always have your next meal to get right back on track, all is never lost.
Step away from the scale
Don't weigh yourself, for those in the back that didn't hear me don't weigh yourself. I know what you're thinking, but how am I going to stay on track if I don't know if I've lost or gained. I am here to tell you, you may gain a little, but it's not 'real' weight gain.
Think back to your last crash diet, it was probably a low carb one right (because diet culture tells us carbs are the enemy), and you ate a slice of toast (approximately 67 calories, 13 grams of carbs), and went over the 'magic' carb macro for the day, despite eating on plan for the rest of the day. The next day you hop on the scale and your weight is up maybe 500g. Did 67 measly calories make you gain 500g of fat? No, what the bread did was make you retain water, and water weight gain is not real weight gain.
The holiday season is full of carb filled, higher sodium meals, and it's ok to enjoy them, but please don't weigh yourself the next day and feel down or upset that the scale moved in an upwards direction, its ok, simply just get back on track and the water weight will whoosh away in no time.
Probably the most important holiday season survival tip, enjoy yourself. For the other 364 days of the year you work your ass off, take one day (or a week, you deserve it), and really just enjoy yourself, spend time with friends and family doing the things you love, that is after all what the holiday season is all about.