Holidays and Celebrations: Tips for Staying on Track

This was the handout from my Your Weight Matters Lunch with the Experts talk: Holidays and Celebrations: Tips for Staying on Track. 

1. Plan your meals including any special holiday food items. Is there something you serve or your family serves that if it wasn't on the table it wouldn't be Christmas or Thanksgiving? Do you enjoy it? or is it just tradition? Can you adapt it or make some subtle change? (cooking method, small swap, 1/2 or 1/4 the recipe) Do you know what the nutritional breakdown of whatever the item is (sometimes after looking at the stats in B&W it's not as appealing) Still want to indulge put it in your plan but make it special (we need to make special treats, special again.)

2. Eat protein dense meals and don't skip the basics: drink your water and take your vitamins. It’s hard to snack when you are full from a protein dense meal.

3.  If possible bring a healthy dish to a party that way you are assured of something you can eat. You'd be surprised at how popular healthier options on a buffet are and how fun & festive they can be. Remember even healthier goodies can be over indulged in so stick to your plan for the day and proper portions.

For New Weight Loss Surgery Post-op this is especially important: Party foods unless you are in control of cooking them can have lots of hidden things in them... sauces high in sugars, fatty cooking methods, and could be a ticket to dump city or feeling crummy. If the holiday get-together is not a potluck, then consider eating before the party or be sure to eat something you have eaten before. You don't want to try something new at a party, have it not agree with you and end up feeling sick instead of enjoying your friends and family.

4. Learn to say "No Thank You" when offered items that don't work in your health plan. "Oh Aunt Suzie thank you those look so good but I'm saving room for some of that *insert food you can eat* (Ideas: delicious turkey, cheese, veggie...)" and don't feel guilty about saying No. It's not your job to make everyone happy and certainly not at your health's expense.

5. Parties, visitors, phone calls, kid’s concerts will mess with your schedule. Treat exercise like a VERY IMPORTANT appointment put it on your calendar. Don't break the appointment. Move every chance you get... take a neighborhood night walk to look at holiday lights. If your weather is not cooperating turn on some music and dance. Stocking stuffer idea: Buy everyone in your family pedometers or if you already wear an activity tracker, every night chart how many steps each person walked. Give a non-food prize to the highest step taker each month (movie tickets, choice of game on game night, day trip of their choice, etc.)

6. Don't drink your calories: 80-150 calories per glass wine, 140-200 calories per beer, 150-200 calories each shot, 300-800 calories per mixed drink and that doesn't include any poor eating choices made while feeling a buzz.

7. Stress and eating. If you dread the holidays you probably need to rethink them. They shouldn't put you into debt, make you feel awful or anxious, or be something you are forced to do out of obligation. IT'S OK TO SAY NO to activities and extras that might stress you out. The world won't come to an end if you don't go to that holiday party or event.

8. Take the emphasis off food, booze, material things and onto reconnecting with those you love. Meet family for something active: sledding, skating, walking the neighborhood looking at lights, snowball battle in the park. Watch holiday movies with healthy snacks and play board games. Make new traditions.

9. Wrap up leftovers, freeze for use in other meals (ham cubes for crustless quiches or soups) or give them away (have some to-go containers from the dollar store ready to send people home with leftovers. Remember it’s a holi-DAY not holi-MONTH. Proximity: The biggest risk factor for overeating is simply being around food. Making your house a safe zone from not so great choices. Remember it truly is the thought that counts so regifting gift baskets, cookies, candies. Ask your local senior center if there is someone who might enjoy them, many are on a limited income and holiday treats are not in the budget.

10. One especially for weight loss surgery post-ops: Eating (in the first few weeks especially) is not something to be done on the fly. Picture this scenario...

You pop a shrimp in your mouth (great protein) and start to chew chew chew as directed by your bariatric team but Auntie Suzie comes over and starts oohing and ahhing about your weight loss, asking questions, so.... gulp. Down goes a big hunk of shrimp. You start to thank her and talk but soon realize that hunk of shrimp is sitting like a rubber ball and not moving. Aunt Suzie is still jabbering away and you try and smile but you are in pain, sweating, nauseous... you excuse yourself and make your way to the bathroom and you spend the next few hours praying to the porcelain Gods and swearing you will never eat another shrimp (it wasn't the shrimp's fault.) This is a hard lesson to learn. Trust me.

Remember Why You Started.

What inspires you to be healthy? __________________________