The festive season is a stressful time for many bariatric patients. When patients think of upcoming celebrations, they become anxious because they worry they may not survive the festive season after bariatric surgery.
Surviving the over-indulgence and eating traps during the silly season is simple. Don’t fight your new stomach and food restrictions. Instead, work alongside it and embrace it.
A word of caution this festive season: Don’t over-eat
In a bid to keep up with their friends and family over the festive season, many bariatric patients tend to over-eat or eat compulsively. This is unhealthy. Over-eating doesn’t only affect your weight loss and weight maintenance, but it also puts pressure on your stomach and can cause some uncomfortable symptoms.
After your bariatric surgery with Dr Padovan, your stomach is much smaller than it used to be and can only hold a small amount of food. When you overeat, the following can happen. These symptoms are also known as indications of dumping syndrome.
- Vomiting: After bariatric surgery, you won’t be able to fit large amounts of food in your new stomach. If you try to have too much food, you may end up feeling uncomfortable and vomiting the excess food.
- Cramps and abdominal pain: These symptoms are common when gastric sleeve or gastric bypass patients have over-eaten. Cramps and abdominal pains can also lead to diarrhoea because food may end up in your intestines sooner than they should.
- Plugging: If you have the lap band and over-eat, you may feel like food has become stuck in your band. This is known as plugging.
Other symptoms of over-eating include dizziness, rapid heart rate and flushing.
The above symptoms can make your festive celebrations even more tricky and uncomfortable. Now that we’ve discussed the dangers of over-eating during Christmas and New Year celebrations, let’s discuss how you can enjoy the festive season after your weight loss surgery.
8 tips to surviving the festive season after bariatric surgery
1. Watch your portion sizes
Watching your portion size is one of the most important steps in guarding yourself against the over-eating trap this Christmas. Use a smaller plate at festive celebrations. By using a smaller plate, you’ll work well with your new stomach and you’ll be able to keep a closer eye on your portion size.
Are you worried about people pointing out your eating habits? By using a smaller plate, you won’t have to deal with people questioning why you aren’t eating much. This is because your plate will look fuller than if you used a larger plate.
2. Don’t drink your calories
It can be very easy to drink your calories during Christmas and New Year celebrations. Watch out for juices, wines, and soda and stay away from them. Try water, low-sugar and low-calorie drinks instead.
3. Pace yourself while you eat
Sit-down meals can cause you to eat quickly, especially if everyone seems to be doing so. No one wants to stand out like a sore thumb at the meal table. However, you need to pace yourself while you eat, else you may get dumping syndrome symptoms.
While everyone is quickly scoffing through their meal, drop your cutlery between bites. Savour the taste, chew mindfully, and listen to how your body feels. If possible, make conversation with the people near you. That way, no one will notice if you’re eating slowly or not eating at all.
4. Take your leftovers home
Who doesn’t love taking Christmas and New Year leftovers home? We know we do!
If you don’t finish your meal, see if you can take your leftovers home. When choosing food to take home, make sure you go for healthy options that are rich in fibre, protein, and nutrients. Pavlovas and Christmas fruit mince pies don’t count.
5. Keep an eye on your snacks
Everyone loves a good snack, so it can be easy to lose track of how many snacks you’ve eaten throughout the day. Many of our bariatric patients find that snacks are lighter and ‘easier’ to eat without feeling full and heavy afterwards.
Snacks contain lots of calories that can be easy to forget about. Keep a close eye on your snacking during festive celebrations. Your waistline will thank you for it.
6. Watch your alcohol intake and keep hydrated
Everyone reacts differently to alcohol after bariatric surgery. Some people can get intoxicated quickly while some people may feel ill after drinking.
Don’t drink alcohol in the first six months after your surgery. Secondly, after bariatric surgery small amounts of alcohol can cause low blood sugar and intoxication.
Never drink and drive, even after consuming a minimal amount of alcohol.
7. Separate your food and drinks
Eating and drinking at the same time after bariatric surgery interfere with the digestion of your food. While it may seem tempting to do it over Christmas and New Year celebrations, it can lead to vomiting, cramps and abdominal pain. We recommend you drink 30 to 60 minutes after your meal.
8. Be confident
It’s normal to feel a little self-conscious and anxious about festive celebrations after bariatric surgery. Our biggest tip out of our list is to be confident in yourself. Enjoy yourself and have fun!
Are you in the soft foods stage? Enjoy your mashed potato and soft foods with pride.
Are you in the liquids phase of your diet? Don’t feel conscious about having broth and liquids at festive celebrations.
So, here’s to the silly season. Enjoy yourself and keep safe!