How to have a Bari-friendly Holiday

Friday, December 22, 2017

Having a happy and memorable holiday should be something we look forward to every year. Unfortunately, the holidays also bring added stress and many more expectations than we would like. Some of those expectations can influence not only how we feel about the holidays but they can also have negative consequences to our health. When our health is closely tied to what we eat and how much we eat, when we find it difficult to follow our usual routine we can really get into trouble. It is not as much about weight gain but the impact eating the wrong foods in the wrong quantities can have on our mental and physical health.

Before we get sucked into the “same ol’ same ol’” of negative patterns, it is important to realize we have support. It is amazing how our Facebook friends and those we chat with on twitter can be a great resource for us….and then there are also the blogs we follow! We are not alone in our struggles! And sometimes we just need to refresh our bandwidth and get reminded of the power we have to make choices and avoid downward spirals that will take a lot of effort to get out of.

I recently reached out to Livliga’s Facebook followers and asked this question: The holidays are upon us and it is always a challenging time to stay on track. I am wondering, especially from our bariatric post-op friends, what tips you have and tricks you use to help manage all the hoopla and food choices...share your good advice please!

Yvonne Burns McCarthy (bariatricgirl) was nice enough to respond and gave this great advice:

  1. Eat before you go to any place you will be tempted to do damage to yourself. 
  2. Don’t bring things you don’t want to eat home. 
  3. Last, if you fall off the wagon...drop the shame, hold your head high, and get back on the horse.

In a recent email to her followers Liz Bull offered her advice for Holiday Survival:

  1. Plan your meals to include the special holiday items.... but, first, analyze them. Do you really enjoy them? Or is it just tradition? Could you adapt the recipe? Take those sweet potato dishes with the gooey marshmallows on top, for example. Personally, I prefer mashed sweet potatoes with smoked paprika sprinkled on top. You could try having only one kind of stuffing instead of three. If the Holiday just isn't the Holiday without Aunt Mollie's Super Fluffy Coconut Dream Cake, by all means, enjoy the treat... especially if she only makes it for this Holiday. On the other hand, she might be tired of making it and thrilled to make something sweet potato pie... or something with fruit. 
  2. Avoid drinking your calories. Remember that the buzz can also lead to poor eating choices. A glass of wine - 80-150 calories; beer - 140-200 calories; shots - 150-200 calories; mixed drinks... ooh-la-la. 300 - 800 calories.... and eggnog 440-540 calories. 
  3. Bring a healthy dish to parties. That way, you KNOW that there will be something you can eat without derailing. And, you will be amazed at how popular healthier options are. If bringing something is not appropriate, consider eating before the party. Then you can spend the party socializing instead of balancing your drink and plate. 
  4. Learn the art of the gentle decline. It's inevitable. You will be encouraged to eat things that are not on your eating plan, to eat more than you want, to eat things you just don't like under any circumstances. Here are some handy phrases: " Oh, thank you. Those look so good... and I'm saving room for some (fill in the blank)." or "Thanks so much. I am just stuffed! May I take some to-go?" or "Thanks. I just can't eat another bite right now.... perhaps later." or "Thanks for offering. I don't want to hurt your feelings. Truthfully, I've never cared for (fill in the blank) and they don't seem to like me much either." Remember, it is NOT your job or obligation to make anyone happy at your expense. 
  5. Have a plan for leftovers! For many of us, just being around food makes us run the risk of overeating. It is best to deal with leftovers right away. Wrap them up and freeze them for use in future meals (like ham cubes for quiche or soup). Make up to-go boxes for your guests. Dollar stores have those boxes; keep them on hand. If Aunt Mollie's Super Fluffy Coconut Dream Cake is your undoing, be sure to use this strategy. Ditto for any other food that "calls" to you.
  6. Help spread the holiday cheer. Have a plan for those huge cookie-platters and gift boxes of candy that guests will bring. Re-gift gift baskets, cookies and candies. Check with your local senior center, homeless shelter, food bank. Holiday treats may not be within their budget.  
  7. Make some new traditions! Consider that holidays are about reconnecting with people you love. Meet family/friends for something active... like sledding, skating, snowball battles... or walking the neighborhood enjoying holiday lights. Watch holiday movies. Play board games. Take the focus off the food. 
  8. And finally, I believe that special treats are for special days. Plum Pudding is for Christmas, right? Latkes are for Hannukah, right? So keep them special. And, remember that a holiday is a holy-DAY, not a holy-MONTH. Even those ancient revelers stopped after 12 days!

Another favorite resource is the BariatricFoodie (aka Nikki Massie). She has written a book called The Bariatric Foodie Holiday Survival Guide. You can’t beat the good advice you’ll find and can refer back to when you need it most. Like other experts who face the holidays and know that we all need help to navigate, Nikki believes first and foremost, you need a plan! Nikki walks us through the issues, how to confront them head on and then how to make a plan to embrace the way you want to be during the holidays.

On Twitter there are monthly and/or weekly chats with groups that really help us focus on what is important to us and our health…all year long. Right now those talks focus on the tips and tricks of thriving healthfully during the holidays. Here are two great monthly chats focusing on health, nutrition and healthy tools:

#obsm chat
Obesity Social Media Chat #obsm Second Sunday of every month at 9 pm EST All who are passionate about #EndingObesity are welcome! Tweets ≠ medical advice

All things food and nutrition on Sundays at 9 pm EST

And make sure to check out the ideas, tips and tricks offered on the Livliga Live Vibrant blog! Here is an example we hope will support you in having a bari-friendly holiday:

Making Happy and Healthy Memories for the Holidays

Happy Healthy Holidays to You!

Click here to download your FREE Livliga  Bariatric eBook with Recipes & Resources

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