Navigating the Holidays, the Healthy Way
By Kimberly Hyatt, MPH, RD, LDN
The holiday season is a time often focused around large meals. This can be a source of stress and anxiety, particularly if you are on a weight loss journey. Whether you have had bariatric surgery and are nervous about food choices post-operatively, or if you are simply trying to remain healthy through the holidays, there are a few key items to remember to ensure your success.
As an important additional note this holiday season, the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading here in our community. Please consider getting vaccinated or getting your booster dose and wearing a mask at indoor public settings. Lastly, get tested for COVID-19 one to two days before celebrating with people from multiple households and stay home if you do not feel well.
Start the day off as you would on any other day
Refraining from eating prior to a large meal can lead to overeating during the event. Prevent this type of yo-yo diet approach by eating a protein filled breakfast or brunch. This will allow you to go into the holiday meal without being overly hungry. You can then sample all your favorite foods during the mealtime without eating to excess. This can help curb guilty feelings and avoid a potentially upset stomach afterward.
Focus on the event and the company
The meal is often the center of any holiday or gathering. This can be challenging if you are trying to be conscious of your food choices. Let’s change the focal point! Spend time in conversation and socializing with those around you, taking a few bites every so often. This can prevent you from eating too quickly and subsequently overeating.
Bring something safe
When in doubt, it is always a good idea to bring an appetizer, a side dish, or other food item that you know fits into your eating plan. For bariatric patients, this may be dish that is a softer texture. For others, it may be a recipe that fits into their lifestyle. Either way, make it colorful, make it nutrient dense, and use festive decorations and your dish is sure to be a hit!
Anticipate social situations and practice healthy boundaries
This is probably the most important aspect of social situations. We often get feedback, which can be both positive and negative, when we are trying to lose weight. If you are keeping your health and weight loss journey private, come up with some kind but firm responses to pressing questions. If someone comments that you lost weight or that you look different, you may feel self-conscious. If they press you on what you are doing differently, you may respond by saying, “I’m feeling better now that I’m watching what I’m eating.”
We may even get friends and family that press you to eat something that you either don’t tolerate or don’t want to partake in due to your dietary plan. A great way to respond to this is to simply say, “It looks really good but last time I had that, it didn’t agree with me.” It is your personal decision what you decide to eat and drink and anyone insisting otherwise will need to respect your decision.
Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Eat the things that you like that you know you can tolerate. When you start to feel full – listen to it. Honoring your full feeling and being able to make the choice to stop yourself is empowering. You’ve enjoyed the food, you’ve enjoyed the company, and you’ve stopped when comfortable. Congratulations on navigating this difficult time successfully!
Kimberly Hyatt, MPH, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian specializing in obesity medicine. She has been in practice since 2010, and has worked extensively in acute care, critical care, and community nutrition.
She is currently the program manager and registered dietitian for Beebe Center for Weight Loss Surgery. Kim guides bariatric patients through their pre- and post-operative period, which includes classes, support groups, and addressing any questions or concerns that patients may have along their journey. Obesity is a complex disease with multiple social, genetic, and environmental factors that can affect one's weight. Kim understands these challenges and is dedicated to the success of each individual patient.
To make an appointment, call 302-260-7360 or visit our website for more information: beebehealthcare.org/services/surgery/bariatric-surgery.