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Tips to Enjoy the Holidays After Bariatric Surgery


By Dr. Dieter Pohl

The holiday season is right around the corner, which can be a challenging time after bariatric surgery. With all the family gatherings, holiday parties and treats, it can be a bit overwhelming for people trying to stay on track with their weight loss plan. Luckily, there are ways you can still enjoy this time with family and friends. By planning ahead and enjoying in moderation, the holiday season can still be the time of year you look forward to. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays while still maintaining your weight loss journey.

Don’t Save Your Calories

It may be tempting to skip meals to save your calories for holiday food and treats, however, it’s best to stick to your regular eating patterns. By skipping a meal, you’re more likely to overindulge later on.

Stick to the Basics

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t maintain the same healthy eating habits. Keep the basics in mind, such as portion size, eating slowly and tracking your intake. Be sure to have enough protein in each meal as well. By not diverging from your basic eating pattern, you can avoid overeating.

Stay Hydrated

The holidays usually involve quite a few alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate you, and are full of empty calories as well. It's important to be aware that alcohol can affect you differently after bariatric surgery, so be sure to drink enough water and be mindful of your alcohol intake.


The holidays can be a busy time, and it’s easy to fall off an exercise routine. Consider scheduling a time for exercise, rather than get into the habit of pushing it off until the holidays are over. Additionally, it’s important to keep a routine during the wintertime in general. If you live in a colder area and don’t want to weather the colder temperatures for your daily walks or outdoor exercise, be sure to have a plan for at-home routines for exercise or schedule the time to make it to the gym.

Choose Healthier Options

If you plan on making some of your favorite holiday dishes, consider looking for alternative ingredients that cut down on fat and calories. Some examples include:

  • Using skim milk instead of whole milk for mashed potatoes
  • Consider substitutes for sugar such as unsweetened applesauce or noncaloric sweeteners
  • Kick up the flavor with garlic, spices, and herbs rather than with fats such as butter and gravy
  • Choose evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream for baking

Be Kind to Yourself

All is not lost if you overindulge a bit during the holidays. It is okay to allow yourself to an occasional treat, just be sure to recommit to healthy patterns. Keeping the above tips in mind can ensure you enjoy this special time of year while maintaining your weight loss journey.

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