Holiday Food Fest

How to Successfully Navigate the Holiday Food Fest after Bariatric Surgery

November 27, 2023

Is your holiday schedule super hectic or do you plan to try and slow down to savor the season? As much as we want to slow down, I bet you’re saying…"are you kidding me? The stress of the holidays seems to ratchet up my life every day. And food is everywhere." I hear you. It can feel overwhelming. But amidst all the hustle and bustle, you CAN successfully navigate the holiday food fest and continue on your transformation and journey.

Every year, do you think about how nice it would be if you were less busy and could actually enjoy the beauty of the season? But with a long to-do list plus a busy calendar of friend and family functions with all that food, and whew, a long nap is looking pretty good about now. This is where your PLAN comes in…your secret sauce to smartly navigate all the holiday meetings, greetings and eatings and continue on your successful journey. How do you make this success happen? Let’s talk about your PLAN.

First, take a moment and think about how far you have come and how hard you have worked. Don’t allow this annual food-a-palooza to sink your success. It all starts with a PLAN, so put in your mind the mnemonic P-L-A-N.

Your PLAN to Navigate the Holiday Food Fest


Power Pack

Don’t leave home without a power pack all during this holiday season. What do I mean? Think protein for your power pack…a couple of high-protein foods plus a high fiber smart carb to take along with you every day. Appointments and meetings run late, traffic is heavy and you are hungry, bordering on HANGRY…hungry and angry. By the time you arrive home or to a function, you could eat the door off the refrigerator and your good habits fly out the window, right? Kick in your PLAN ahead of time. Stock up now on your favorite to-go items so you are prepared. Some ideas would be: turkey or beef jerky sticks, roasted chickpeas, tuna packets, cheese sticks and walnuts, protein chips or even a protein shake, preferably one with fiber.


Love What You Choose to Eat

Don’t miss this…be picky. Love your body. Love the food you choose to eat and put in it. Don’t eat any ole food just because it’s there. That tactic won’t serve you well and before long the negative feelings and self-talk will start. Stop it before it happens. YOU are in charge. You make the decisions regarding what you will and won’t eat and then feel good about it.

Remember: YOU are in charge. You make the decisions regarding what you will and won’t eat and then feel good about it.


Assess Your Calendar and the Situation

You’ve decided what holiday meetings and holiday functions you plan to attend. Think about the food situation. Will it be a buffet of snacks and drinks? A sit-down meal? Servers roaming with trays of food? Drinks only?

Make this next decision ahead as well. Can you tolerate alcohol? Do you plan to drink at the event? If so, how much? Remember that after surgery, it doesn’t take a lot of alcohol at all to quickly get a buzz and get drunk.

What are your very favorite foods? Will they be served? Will you allow yourself treats? If so, what amount? How will they make you feel? Could they cause dumping syndrome or affect your blood glucose? If you have specific health issues or have bouts of dumping syndrome, alcohol and foods, especially slider type foods, are definitely something to think about. Remember, food is going to be everywhere, so purposeful eating versus flying by the seat of your pants wins every single time.

Smart tip: Be sure and eat a protein-rich food before the function…it will help quell your cravings and help you stick to the PLAN you have made.


NO Negative Self-talk or Guilt

When you’re frustrated, it’s easy to start saying negative things to yourself, aka negative self-talk.Doesn’t make you feel so good, does it? Maybe, instead of negative self-talk, you’re piling on the guilt for whatever you ate or drank that you feel you shouldn’t have. We can easily be our own worst enemy. The more guilt you feel, the easier it is to say, oh, forget it, I’ll just eat and drink whatever I want for the rest of the holiday season. I’ve already blown it. Let’s not go down that road. That’s why it’s so important to allow yourself your favorite treats in small amounts without guilt. What did I just say? Repeat it with me. No guilt allowed! No guilt allowed. It steals all the enjoyment of the season.

Here’s what I want you to do this week. Make your PLAN for the food fest.

I want you to take a few minutes today and map it out:

P: for your protein power pack. What are you going to purchase and have on hand ready to go?

L: love the food you choose to eat. Be picky. Choose your most favorite treats wisely.

A: assess the functions you plan to attend ahead of time and decide how to best handle them, alcohol included.

N: no negative self-talk or guilt.

You can successfully navigate the holiday food fest after your weight loss surgery and enjoy the wonders of the season without guilt and negative self- talk.

Bariatric dietitian Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success.

Holiday Food Fest
Susan Mitchell


Bariatric dietitian Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success. Selected as one of the Best 35 Dietitian Podcasts, Bariatric Surgery Success was chosen from thousands of podcasts on the web ranked by traffic, social media followers, domain authority & freshness. Dr. Susan helps you conquer cravings, emotional eating and weight regain after bariatric surgery with a focus on your nutrition and health, journey and success. Read more articles by Susan!