Holiday Eating Anxieties For Bariatric Patients

Holiday Eating Anxieties For Bariatric Patients



Most Bariatric Surgery Patients experience a​ wide range of​ Holiday eating anxieties which can actually ruin a​ perfectly good Holiday around friends and family.

Prior to​ surgery, Holidays meant family, friends, and lots of​ food to​ indulge in​ and enjoy – often at​ a​ glutinous rate simply because Holiday foods are “special” because they are only provided during the season and they are prepared so carefully which adds guilt if​ you don’t partake of​ it.

How many times do you hear these phrases said at​ a​ Holiday gathering?

“That’s ALL you’re going to​ have? I worked so hard on that dish…”
“You better eat this now, because it​ won’t be here for another year….”
“It will hurt my feelings if​ you don’t eat this…..”
“These are very special ingredients I ordered specifically for this dish…”
“You can’t be NOT HUNGRY… it’s a​ Holiday!”
“Just ONE LITTLE BITE, PLEEEEEZEEEEZ…..”
“Have more, there’s plenty…”
“Take some of​ this home with you if​ you’re not going to​ eat it​ now…”
“Oh nonsense! You’re allowed to​ eat a​ lot today!”
“You should have worn your FAT PANTS to​ gorge yourself like the rest of​ us…”

OH, how this list could fill a​ book, right? Such comments add enough stress to​ non-surgery individuals who carefully watch their weight, let alone those who have had the Bariatric surgery and have to​ be careful what they eat, how much they eat, and how often they eat. So you are NOT ALONE in​ feeling some anxiety about being around all of​ the special food at​ gatherings this season.

I’d like to​ offer some suggestions that have worked for me and others during this most stressful time when Holidays equates to​ special foods and the pressure to​ partake in​ them is​ way too much out of​ hand at​ times.

1. Prepare you mind for the event: Reflect on past Holiday experiences and evaluate what lies ahead this year for you. Have it​ in​ your mind what you will say and do when those food-pushers taunt you or​ down-right threaten you to​ eat during the “special occasion.

2. Anticipate the food: Reflect on past Holiday foods that are always provided to​ you within your social circle. Predetermine what you WILL eat and what you WON’T eat. Making a​ decision ahead of​ time will curb your gut-reaction to​ “cave in” to​ the urgings by others to​ eat what you shouldn’t eat.

3. Never try anything new at​ the party: Not knowing how you will react to​ the food carries the high risk of​ making you ill and calling for you quick retreat to​ the bathroom or​ feeling sick for an​ hour or​ so. This will draw attention to​ you, which is​ something you don’t’ want. The host and guest will feel badly for you, so don’t put them or​ you in​ such a​ situation. Only eat things that you are absolutely certain that you can tolerate.

4. Take baby-bites of​ the “special” foods: Literally, take a​ baby-bite if​ you absolutely must partake of​ foods strictly for the social expectations. if​ it’s too much for a​ baby’s mouth, then you’re putting too much on the spoon or​ fork.

5. No-Guilt in​ Tossing it: in​ a​ social event where you don’t’ want attention drawn to​ how little you are eating, take a​ small plate with small portions of​ food, then take small bites of​ each item, then TOSS the rest away when no one is​ looking. This gives the appearance that you’re “normal” and all will assume you have gotten your fill. This spares hurting the feelings of​ Great Aunt Gerdie who truly does cry if​ you refuse her special 60%-sugar/90%-fat/carb-loaded/stroke-on-a-plate pie. Tossing out the unwanted uneaten portions is​ just a​ “different” way of​ consuming… so don’t’ feel guilty about it. All that matters is​ that Great Aunt Gerdie delights in​ seeing her pie disappearing.

6. Eat healthy before you go and bring your own essentials: Never go to​ a​ Holiday party hungry… NEVER! This is​ self-sabotage in​ the worst way! Enough said? Take along your own treats and drinks that are RNY-Friendly to​ you. Don’t request an​ extra effort on your host. You know what you need, so take it​ with you. While they are eating pies and cakes, you can have the sugar-free fudge sickles you brought along or​ those sugar-free pudding cups. And if​ they are serving only sodas or​ alcohol and you cant’ do them, bring your own herbal teas or​ no-sugar-added hot chocolate packets. This will make you, the host, and the guests feel comfortable and nobody will feel that you are “suffering” as​ they eat your NO-NO’s.

7. Talk more than you eat: The Holidays should be about PEOPLE, not food. So be social. Focus on the people; laugh with them, tell stories, listen to​ their tall tales, play games, etc. if​ you do these things, you’ll be amazed at​ how well the gathering will go for you simply because you didn’t focus on food. And when the food-pushers come along, just glance by them off into the distance and make your exit because you “want to​ talk to​ so-n-so or​ your cell phone is​ vibrating and you’ve got to​ excuse yourself for the call…. Perfectly acceptable to​ have a​ pre-planned “way out” when you need one.

8. Change the food-subject: Others may want to​ cry boo-hoo with you if​ you keep telling them of​ all the foods you’re missing out on this year. Don’t do that! Rather than mourn the loss of​ your favorite Holiday treats, brag on the fact that you’re feeling so much healthier, your clothes are getting baggier, and you’re dreaming again of​ all the great things that are in​ store for you now that you are slimming down. Don’t’ allow anyone to​ pity you for not eating like you used to​ eat.

9. Wear a​ “knock-out” outfit: WOW them all this Holiday season by wearing a​ special outfit that you feel very proud to​ be seen in. The food isn’t special to​ you anymore… you’ve swapped that for the special outfits you can now wear! Let people whisper to​ each other how great you look rather than how little you are eating. The stress of​ not eating so much will be far away to​ you when you feel good about yourself and look good too.

10. Make your visit brief: if​ you are getting too much pressure from others or​ are experiencing too many anxieties, let leave the gathering earlier than you originally planned. Maybe you’re tired, the roads are getting bad, you realized you need to​ do something… remember that “pre-planned” escape should be there for you if​ you need it.

I can attest that these are tactics that I’ve used and STILL use in​ social gatherings when it​ is​ expected to​ eat special foods during special times. Granted, I am three years post-op, so my anxieties are not as​ high as​ they once were… but they certainly threatened my Holiday happiness not too long ago!

Remember this most of​ all…. The more prepared you are ahead of​ time, the less you’ll feel nervous about those awful Holiday Eating Anxieties. Now go have fun!




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