Happy Holidays After Bariatric Surgery

Have Happy Holidays After Bariatric Surgery: Enjoy the Traditions, Lose Weight

December 21, 2018

One of the most challenging times for bariatric patients can be the Holidays. When many patients think of the Holidays, the food choices normally not eaten are everywhere. The good news is that you can have Happy Holidays after bariatric surgery.

Along with the traditional Holiday foods come cherished family memories and traditions. For bariatric patients that are focused on their weight loss or maintenance, the Holidays can be a maze to navigate which can be stressful.

As a dietitian, I’ve seen first-hand how a patient’s situation dramatically changes the Holidays. I share with my patients these tips to successfully navigate the Holidays with your weight loss surgery journey on track. These tips are useful for anyone that is health-minded who wrestle with enjoying this special time of year but to manage their eating during the Holidays.

Tips For Happy Holidays After Bariatric Surgery

Make it special: Growing up, my grandmother would spend hours making her famous fruitcake. For her, it was an art form, a way to say “I love you,” and it was her identity. Try to find new, special holiday foods that are not filled with sugar and butter but still made with love. Check out the Bariatric Recipes on ObesityHelp for some healthy and delicious dishes.

One of our patients who was just days after having weight loss surgery was thrilled that her friend made her sugar-free cranberry Jello. Her friend made it just for her. Jello was special to her.

Eat regularly: Even though the Holidays are hectic, make sure to eat regularly and not restrict. Take time for breakfast, lunch and a dinner. If you are skipping meals, you will overeat and over-compensate with calories later in the day. Stress eating will be more likely, and when that happens it is usually not healthy foods!

Focus on each bite: Our lives are often busy and hectic. We have five minutes to inhale our fast-food lunch before we get back to our work. However, if you take a real break, you have time to take smaller bites and really chew your food. When you savor each bite and enjoy the flavor of your food, you will be more mindful of your meal and you will feel more satisfied.

Quality vs. quantity: After weight loss surgery, bariatric surgery patients can only tolerate small bites of food. When you can only eat several bites of food, you can become more of a “food snob.” As you slow down your eating and savor each bite, you become more critical over your food choices. For example, maybe that fast-food lunch that you inhaled won’t taste that great when you slow down and really taste what you are eating.

Finally, it is important for us to remember that the Holidays are about more than food.

After patients experience their first Holiday season, there are a few things they observe. When they are less focused on food, they are more focused on their family and new activities or adventures. As they get smaller, their world gets bigger.

Happy Holidays!


Carrie Tollefson is the Outpatient and Clinical Dietician at the Overlake Medical Clinics Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program since 2010 and has worked at Overlake Medical Center since 2006. She enjoys being part of bariatric patients’ journey to make significant changes in their lifestyle, eating and fitness habits. Carrie is a co-facilitator of their weight loss surgery support group.