healthy holidays
The holiday season and food go hand in hand, and for many of us, it can be a wonderful time of year, even after weight loss surgery. It is absolutely possible to learn new habits and behaviors that you carry with you through festive parties and gatherings so that you continue to feel your best and stay on track with healthy eating and exercise.

But the holidays do often involve temptations that can lead us off track from our healthy habits. A simple indulgence could lead you into an episode of overeating that you really want to avoid. Knowing what to expect and having a plan is crucial!

Tips to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays

Avoiding overeating may not be a huge issue if you’ve had weight loss surgery in the past year or so. During this period of time, your body just won’t let you consume as much food without feeling sick. You learn your lesson pretty quickly, and people are better able to stick with what they know they should do. The challenge will be more for those who have not yet had weight loss surgery or for those who are a few years out from it. 

Here are some healthy tips to help you keep yourself in a positive mindset while handling holiday eating in the best way possible.

Focus on weight maintenance instead of weight loss. Don’t stress yourself out about losing weight during this time. When you let go of this idea, you will hopefully feel more relaxed and handle all of the holiday treats and sweets in a better way. Also remember that one day of splurging will not ruin everything. Commit to making better decisions the next day and move on. 

Start new traditions. Instead of focusing on food-related activities, make holiday crafts that you can give as gifts. Plan to take a walk or play games with relatives instead of having an extended meal that lasts all day. Make a gingerbread house that will be for decoration only. Take a ride around town to see Christmas lights. In general, find new ways of celebrating that do not revolve around food. 

Drink extra water. Even more than 64 ounces during the holidays is a good idea. Weight fluctuations during the holidays may be due to eating a higher amount of salt or carbs which can make you more bloated than usual. Drink extra water to help flush out the extra sodium. 

Never arrive hungry and don’t save your calories. Eat on your normal schedule, which often means smaller meals more frequently after weight loss surgery. It can be tempting to skip meals leading up to a party or dinner, but you are more likely to overeat in the moment if you do this. It’s a strategy that almost always backfires.

Eat the turkey or ham first. People who have had weight loss surgery should always focus on eating protein first, and the holidays are no exception to this rule. Protein is essential for wound healing, preserving lean body mass, enhancing fat-burning metabolism, and minimizing hair loss after weight loss surgery. After you have eaten your protein, take a few, small bites of your favorite dishes.

Think about the foods you know you like the most. A common approach to holiday buffets, cookie exchanges, and potlucks is to try a little bit of everything. After weight loss surgery, this just isn’t possible or a good idea. You will overeat if you try even one bite of all the selections available. Ahead of time, think about those foods that you truly love. Maybe it’s sweet potato pie or eggnog. Enjoy a small amount of those treats, be satisfied, then be done.  

Sit far away from the buffet or kitchen and socialize. It’s a simple fact that if you are enjoying yourself farther away from the food, you are more likely to forget about it. Try to sit somewhere so that the food is not even in sight to avoid mindless nibbling and going back for one more taste. Instead, take the time to really spend quality time with family and friends.

Don’t take home leftovers and give away extras. You can still bake cookies with your kids, but have a plan to deliver the majority of them to family, friends, and neighbors. If attending a dinner, don’t give in to the offer from the host to take home leftovers. Instead, leave any leftovers you might have from the dishes you took for the host or others. You may also be able to donate cookies and other extra goodies to those in need. 

Tweak some of your favorites. It may be possible in many cases to create a healthy version of your favorite dishes or treats that you can enjoy with no concerns. Treat these recipes or recipe changes as you would any other meal or dish. Don’t put these foods up on a pedestal just because of the holidays. 

Here are a few ingredient swaps that may make dishes healthier:

  • Use skim milk instead of whole milk in mashed potatoes
  • Use fat-free creamed soups in recipes rather than the full-fat versions
  • Consider substitutes for sugar, such as unsweetened applesauce or noncaloric sweeteners
  • Add flavor with garlic, spices and herbs rather than fats, such as butter and gravy
  • Combine 1/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup butter to replace 1 cup of butter in a recipe
  • When baking your favorite holiday treats, replace each egg with two egg whites, and substitute evaporated skim milk in place of heavy cream

Sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, and hot chocolate can all be made healthier with a few creative swaps. 

Let BMI Surgery help you get started on the road to weight loss during the holidays or any other time of the year

The caring group of professionals at Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery will help you get started on your weight loss journey and stay with you every step along the way. Dr. Long and his team specialize in all types of bariatric surgery, including gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass, and the LAP-BAND. Visit us today at or give us a call to set up a consultation at 205-833-6907.