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Preparing for Holiday Eating

There is a definite weight and stress-boost that comes with even LOOKING at the family calendar around the holidays. From Halloween to the New Year’s resolution, we pack those dates with family get-togethers, work obligations, school parties and bake sales, candy, and sweets fundraisers, trick-or-treating and the aftermath, and endless buffets. We wash it down with spiced cider, eggnog, champagne, grown-up beverages, hot chocolate and then we do it again.

Holiday table is set for a feast, but how should a bariatric patient navigate holiday eating?

And when we reread that, no one can argue that there needs to be a method to this madness.

Even if we weren’t actively considering or living a post-bariatric-surgery lifestyle, this time of year comes with a great deal of temptation and the social and emotional triggers that can lead us off track, even if just for a minute of “well-deserved” reward. Whether living a bariatric surgery lifestyle or trying to be mindful of how we treat ourselves and what we put into our bodies, this stretch of potential health mayhem is the PERFECT time to adopt better behaviors that will carry you stronger into the New Year. “But it’s easier to wait until after the Holidays.” We have to disagree, and here’s why:

  1. You will never be MORE tempted than now. Imagine developing the Jedi tools now to be able to see, understand and resist some of the typical Holiday pitfalls. If you learn to make creative food and drink swaps, and use this time to practice them, imagine how good you’ll be in January. If you start to learn the art of the dinner party dodge and start using the word “no” for all the work, school and family celebrations, you will be stronger in the New Year to start refocusing on what’s important. If you keep a reasonable and conservative schedule of exercise – even if just 15 minutes a day – through all the commotion, imagine how trained you will be coming out the other side of this year. Your brain will no longer rely on the crutch of the excuse of time, rather it will automatically know that 15 minutes twice a day is no sweat and can be done under any circumstance.
  2. You will likely never have so many emotional triggers concentrated at one time. The Holidays are not Norman Rockwell for everyone. In fact, they were probably only Norman Rockwell for Norman Rockwell. This is a time of great social and family weight. While some of us must navigate fractured family and marital dynamics, others have great anxiety in the expected niceties of being social, attending more functions, and dressing up after a year-and-a-half of sweatpants. On top of all of that is the pressure of doing this during a pandemic – a time when no matter how we’ve protected ourselves we may feel vulnerable to tighter social situations, getting caught in the crossfires of a political conversation, and for some, emerging for the first time in years to somehow jump back into the “norm” of being social. It’s a lot.
  3. Using the Holidays to change your habits. You will know you can do it. This one is easy. The wins you accumulate trying these new tactics will compound and you will have a mental shift. And off this momentum, when you now near periods of great stress, you will do so with a new outlook. Rather than rounding mid-October and thinking, oh no, here it comes, you will prepare yourself, knowing that it just takes small manageable changes. And with the end goal of self-betterment always in mind, you will not only make it through the holidays but will be one step closer to understanding that good habits are just consistent and doable small steps that don’t start and stop by the calendar.