Christmas is coming … and with it the inevitable stress, strain, uncertainty and tricky challenges for WLS patients. We have covered this quite a few times before and more recently in our latest free Christmas 2018 Bariatric Newsletter. In it WLS dietitian Nichola came up with some brilliant advice for the lead up and day itself. In case you missed it or don’t subscribe to the newsletter, here it is again – and certainly worth the read!
Coping with Christmas …
How to Have a Healthy Christmas following Bariatric Surgery
by Registered Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine
GUEST POST: Christmas is a good time for a foodie, but perhaps not such a good time for our waist lines.
To help you to enjoy the Christmas festivities, and prevent your weight from increasing (yes, unfortunately your weight can still increase post-surgery, especially after the 6 month mark), I’ve come up with some top tips that you may want to consider based on some common situations that you may find yourself in!
CHRISTMAS PARTY & BUFFET TIPS
1) Have a small HEALTHY SNACK before you go to a festive party such as a piece of fruit with peanut butter, a handful of nuts or raw vegetable sticks and hummus. Having a mixture of both fibre and protein will help to fill you up so that your head does the party snack choosing and not your stomach!
2) Stay HYDRATED. Drink water or a low calorie, sugar free drink (preferably not fizzy) before, during and after a party; remembering to keep it to 20-30 minutes away from food to prevent vomiting. Drinking water before a party will ensure that thirst isn’t confused with hunger and drinking water afterwards will help to avoid that nasty ‘dehydration hangover’ in the morning.
3) Regarding ALCOHOL, plan how much you want to drink (if at all) before you start and alternate alcoholic drinks with water/no added sugar soft drinks (knock out the fizz before drinking!). Be mindful that alcohol may still be in your system the next day if you’re planning on driving anywhere; it can take your body up to twice the length of time to process alcohol drunk following bariatric surgery; 1 unit every 2 hours as opposed to 1 hour. One unit is the equivalent of approximately 300ml/1/2 a pint of beer, a small 125ml/4 fl oz glass of wine or 25ml/1 fl oz of spirit.
4) Eat what you LOVE, not just what you ‘like’ or because “it’s there”. Choose your party snacks wisely, avoid foods that may bloat you, may get ‘stuck’ (such as soft breads or tough meats), or the foods that you know once you start eating you just can’t stop eating (such as crisps/chips!). Go for the foods that you really love, limiting yourself to 2 or 3 ‘indulgent foods’ on your plate and fill the rest of your party plate with lean protein e.g. turkey or nut loaf, and salad.
5) Take your TIME. Peruse the party buffet before you fill your plate. There will always be a few healthy foods available to fill up on, it’s just a matter of spying them first, so take your time and don’t feel pressured to dive straight into the eating. And remember to spend at least 20 minutes eating your tea-plate sized meal.
6) Keep your HANDS occupied. Keep a drink in one hand and your bag/phone etc in the other, this will make grabbing those snacks harder and consequently you will be more aware every time you go to pop something into your mouth!
7) Socialise at least SIX FEET AWAY from the party food. Focus on the real reason why you’re at the party i.e. the people and the occasion. The food is just a bonus so don’t let it become the focal point.
8) Take HEALTHY FOODS or serve healthy foods if you’re hosting. Be the one who offers vegetable sticks and low calorie dips or festive fruit kebabs at the party (as well as the standard snacks) – you won’t be the only one trying not to over-indulge that night, trust me!
FESTIVE WORK TIPS
1) Practice saying NO. Saying ‘no’ isn’t easy, but with practice it will become second nature. Phrases such as ‘No thank you, I’m stuffed’ or ‘No thank you I’ve got a loose filling (!)’ won’t hurt the person offering food and it will leave you in control of the snacks that you really want to eat, rather than mindlessly munching everything that is offered to you!
2) PLAN your lunches and take HEALTHY SNACKS to help reduce the temptations of unhealthy treats. If you continue with your regular meals and in-between healthy snacks then this will help to stabilise your hunger and blood sugar levels, minimising sugar cravings!
3) Ban chocolate (and alcohol!) from the SECRET SANTA shopping list. Suggest that people really have to think about their gifts this year, rather than relying on the ‘fail-safe’ chocolate box or bottle of wine! If you do get given chocolate or alcohol, and you don’t want it, give it away to a deserving neighbour.
4) Keep office treats at least SIX FEET away. If the snacks are out of arms reach, and even better around the corner and out of sight, then this will help to reduce your ‘see-food’ cravings as well as mindless munchies!
5) Keep your WRAPPERS. If you do decide to munch on a few chocolates keep the evidence. Having the empty wrappers on your desk will remind you how many you’ve eaten and may stop you from going back for even more!
CHRISTMAS EVE TIPS
1) First up, remember OUT OF SIGHT is out of mind. Keep the chocolates, sweets and mince pies out of sight until it’s the big day or a designated snack time. Otherwise you may be tempted to eat them ‘just because they are there’. Keep them stored away so that you don’t fall into the ‘see food diet’.
2) Eat BREAKFAST. Breakfast will help to kick start your day by controlling your hunger and blood sugar levels, leaving you more in control when tempting foods are on offer. Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to your porridge or pancakes for a festive touch without the calories or add satsuma segments and and a dollop of yoghurt.
3) Take your TIME. Your brain takes 20 minutes to realise that you’re eating, which means that demolishing your Christmas Eve meals in anything less than this will leave you craving unnecessary extras. Practice chewing your food well (each mouthful preferably 20 times before swallowing) and don’t be afraid to put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls; no-one will steal your food, honest!
4) Ask for a SMALL portion of dessert, or even better go for a fresh fruit salad with yoghurt. If you don’t love the pudding on offer then don’t have it. Eating for the sake of eating could leave you feeling over full. Take a break between courses and decide how much you want of your dessert after you’ve had time to think about it!
5) Keep HEALTHY FESTIVE TREATS to hand. Snacks such as satsumas and chestnuts won’t break the calorie bank balance and neither will a small handful of dried fruit or unsalted nuts. These foods will not only satisfy your ‘nibble craving’ but they will help to nourish your body too!
6) WALK it off! A walk before or after lunch or dinner will not only mean less time inside eating/thinking about food but it will help to burn off any excess calories. Exercise of any kind helps to boost feel good hormones (endorphins) and will help you to rationalise any family arguments!!
.. AND REMEMBER..
HAVE FUN! Christmas comes around just once a year, so remember the 80/20 rule (if you’re eating healthily 80% of the time then the other 20% doesn’t matter!) and if you do indulge (for example on Christmas Day its self) then do so WITHOUT THE GUILT. A recent study showed that those who ate ‘treat foods’ and felt guilty weighed MORE than those who ate it in celebration, without any guilty feelings! No food is banned in a healthy balanced diet … it’s all about moderation and NOT denying yourself the treat foods.
So go on, stop trying to lose weight over the festive period and just try to maintain it … think ‘damage limitation’ rather than ‘deprivation’ – well, that’s going to be my ethos any way … a little bit of what you fancy does you good!