For many of us, the holiday season brings multiple parties and family gatherings, all accompanied by favorite foods that we look forward to all year. This overabundance can be daunting for anyone, but it’s especially stressful after bariatric surgery. Taking a mindful approach to eating can help you maintain your weight loss during the holidays.
Think about this — most of the foods you look forward to during the holidays are actually available year-round. Rather than using “I only get to have this once a year” as an excuse to overindulge, remind yourself that you can have your favorites any time. Who says you can’t cook up a turkey in June?
Eat the foods you truly enjoy. Leave the rest on your plate. Too many choices? Take a small portion of each item that appeals to you. Take a bite of each and really pay attention to how it tastes to you. Did it taste as good as you remembered? If it did, take the time to savor the taste. If not, leave it on the plate.
Listen to your body. You don’t have to clean your plate or eat just because it’s time for supper. Eat slowly and pay attention to how you feel. If you start feeling full, stop and remind yourself you can have these foods any time of the year. If it’s time for the next meal and you’re still feeling full from the last one, wait to eat until you actually start feeling hungry again.
Remind yourself that everything you put in your mouth counts. Your surgery may limit the total amount of food you can eat at one time, but it won’t keep you from taking numerous small bites and tastes, and those can add up to more than you realize. For example, one popular bite-size piece of chocolate has 22 calories. If you grab a piece every time you pass the candy dish, say 15 times throughout the day, you could consume an extra 330 calories!
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re all guilty of eating with our eyes rather than our stomachs from time to time. Don’t be too hard on yourself — or use your slipup as an excuse to overindulge the rest of the day. Use it as a learning experience, remind yourself why you started your weight-loss journey and move forward.
Heidi Bednarchuk is an advanced practice registered nurse and bariatric surgery coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System sites in Mankato and Fairmont.
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