Weight Gain

10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

December 16, 2019

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain!

It is difficult to avoid holiday weight gain since this is the time of year when food becomes the center of attention at many gatherings, from grandma’s famous holiday pound cake to Aunt Erma’s dumplings. People show their appreciation by bringing in sweet treats to work, or even giving food as gifts. When celebrations happen, there is bound to be FOOD!

What will we eat? What will you bring? What can I buy? What can I bake? These are the questions that immediately come up surrounding the planning of an event.

It can be problematic as many people tend to focus their celebrations around food, and this can be a struggle for some after having bariatric surgery. While there isn’t a trend for food-less celebrations, there can be a trend around eating healthy foods and pass on indulging when you are not physically hungry or planning to indulge and track what you eat to hold you accountable.

However, FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) can be strong and lead some individuals back to the pre-op eating habits that caused weight gain. This can cause people to stick their heads in the sand about their post-op journey avoiding all the good habits and returning to the old problematic ones. What this does is result in holiday weight gain.

Let’s make this be the time of year to still continue to celebrate the season with bariatric-friendly foods, and a changed mindset around food-centered holidays. By changing your mindset, it will be easier to avoid holiday weight gain!

Reset Your Focus to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Whatever your family food traditions are, it is important that you reset your focus on the holiday season so you don’t have holiday weight gain by re-gaining back any of those pounds you have released since having bariatric surgery.

Several studies show holiday weight gain is real, and people tend to splurge more during the holiday season. This is also the time of year when more food is circulating in general, especially foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. Whether you’ve had bariatric surgery or not, this is not the time of year to let your guard down with regards to food and your feelings.

This can also be a very emotionally charged time of year where people struggle with setting boundaries with family members, dealing with difficult family members, experiencing the first holiday after the loss of a loved one, depression, seasonal affective disorder, loneliness, and so much more.

Celebrations can STILL happen while on your weight loss journey, and you can STILL celebrate with food in a healthy way. Instead of sticking your head in the sand and returning to old behaviors that won’t serve you, it would be more beneficial to refocus your attention on your journey through the holiday season to ensure continued weight loss, and at the very least, no weight regain.

This also helps cultivate lasting behavioral change as well and helps to reduce the ‘diet mindset’ off your healthy eating plan one day, and off-plan the next day as a result of parties or indulgences.

When someone continues through the holidays eating healthy, anticipating, and planning for the parties, events, etc., then they are creating lasting lifestyle change rather than cycling through the diet mentality. This is what we ALL desire to create after surgery, which also helps create stable weight loss without regain.

10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Here are my top tips to help guide you through the holiday season while honoring the post-bariatric lifestyle change.

Tip 1: Use a Smaller Plate

This is a great strategy to help you avoid unnecessary foods and to help you stay on track. This is also so that you can be MINDFUL of what you’re eating and how much of each food. If you’re distracted, you could eat more, so being present with your food will help. If you have to bring your own plate, using a smaller plate helps you with making these choices, accountability, and mindfulness.

Tip 2: Eat before you go to parties and events or avoiding food at specific events

Eating before you go can be helpful and productive for those who know themselves to be triggered by food and want to avoid falling down the rabbit hole of “just one bite” which could turn into something much bigger, like grazing over several hours. Choosing to eat before you go may help you to feel more in control and avoiding unnecessary temptation.

Tip 3: Keep a water cup in hand (so people don’t offer you drinks or more to eat)

Yes, there is that rule about not eating and drinking at the same time. So, if you have a cup of water in your hand, you can tell people you need to wait, or you can say you just ate. Either way, you’ll be sipping on water and have the ability to socialize.

Tip 4: Teach your family and friends not to give you food-related gifts

During the holidays, people LOVE to give tins of candy, treats, cookies, and even popcorn. Set the boundaries with your loved ones on food gifts. Tell the people at your office. You may think it’s not proper to share this kind of thing, yet often people will be grateful you told them. Teaching people how to love us and sharing what we need to grow, and what is best for us is part of the mindset shift after weight loss surgery.

Tip 5: Create family fun moving activities to keep your body engaged

Instead of sitting on the couch watching football, get everyone outside to toss the ball. Or create a game that everyone can play that gets them active. Start a dance party, or start an activity that gets everyone engaged and moving.

Tip 6: Keep a log of your successes and remind yourself WHY you started

Sometimes the food on the table can begin to call you, sometimes loudly. This is why a list of your successes and WHY you started this journey, to begin with, is important to keep track of for the long-term. Additionally, reminding yourself WHY you want this and what your plans are for the future can also help you to redirect yourself at the moment.

Tip 7: Track all the food you eat to hold you accountable

Self-monitoring has been linked to more long-term successful weight loss outcomes, and this includes tracking your food and water intake, among other things. Knowing what you’re eating, the frequency, and how much will hold you accountable, so if you are reaching for food often, you can be mindful and change the behavior. You’ll also feel more confident about choosing to indulge rather than feeling guilty because it will be planned and tracked.

Tip 8: Make bari-friendly recipes to take with you to events to ensure you have something to eat

You have an opportunity to bring bariatric friendly foods that others may not have tried. Also, it helps you to stay motivated to eat on your normal eating plan because you’ll have something you are confident you can eat. Encouraging others to bring healthy foods can help as well.

Tip 9: Schedule your own “time outs” if get too tense with family, or if you need some quiet time, so you can get some fresh air outside

Setting healthy boundaries is necessary. Getting space and time alone can help you process all the feelings that come up around family. Some families are more stressful than others, and getting some space is perfectly “okay” to do. Go for a quick walk, or take some “breathing breaks” to center yourself when things get too hectic.

Tip 10: Get additional support when needed

There are many ways to get added support. Attend your surgical or hospital support group or join an online support group. Book an appointment with a therapist or counselor. Reach out to supportive friends.

After any indulgences, it is important to bounce back on track with your normal eating plan.

Change your mindset and make the holidays as an opportunity to move past your old habits and change for good!

Visit Bariatric Mindset to learn more about Dr. Kristin!

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Kristin Lloyd, PhD is a licensed psychotherapist, mindset mentor, certified clinical hypnotherapist, and energy psychology practitioner guiding individuals to embrace healthy habits and fuller lives after WLS. A WLS patient herself, Kristin understands the challenges of WLS patients. She is the founder of Bariatric Mindset and author of the two bestselling books: Bariatric Mindset Success and Release Your Regain; both available on Amazon.
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