Tis the season to gather with loved ones over a bountiful holiday spread. But these gatherings can tempt with endless snacks and drinks that aren’t in your diet plan.
It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for those who have struggled with their weight or have undergone weight loss surgery, it’s the most stressful time of the year. Holiday itineraries can cause sleepless nights worrying about what to wear, not gaining weight and not seeing adverse effects from the unhealthy options that are available between November and January.
As a gastroenterologist, I see more patients suffering during the holidays from symptoms caused by overeating, including heartburn and indigestion. Those effects are intensified with weight loss patients. While individuals who struggle with or have overcome weight issues can still enjoy seasonal treats without the stress of overindulgence, it’s more complicated than simple portion control.
Planning ahead is the first step in easing holiday anxiety. List your activities on a printed calendar and keep it in plain sight. Write in pencil so you can easily shift your schedule as needed.
Be selective about which gatherings you attend, choosing the ones where you will feel most at ease, and be cautious not to overbook. It’s also important to plan some time for yourself. Proper sleep plays a big part in weight loss and overall well-being.
Having a plan isn’t limited to your schedule. Have a few appropriate holiday outfits that you have already tried on ready in your closet. This alone can alleviate the psychological stressors many patients encounter when heading out to a special event. Knowing you look good will boost your self-confidence so you can have a better time.
All weight loss patients know to exercise portion control, but it’s not so easy when the temptations are endless and you’re feeling nervous and self-conscious. Try the following tricks to avoid going overboard.
1. Survey all your options before filling your plate. At least half of your plate should include fruits, vegetables and low-calorie foods. Focus on filling up first and indulging your cravings second. Just be smart about your choices. Weight loss patients deserve to enjoy all the holidays have to offer, too.
2. Don’t drink your calories. Keep in mind that many drinks, including those candy cane martinis, have over 350 calories per serving. Opt for water, tea or other low or no-calorie beverages, but if you do choose an alcoholic drink, wine is your best bet calorie wise. Just remember to have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.
3. Never go to a party hungry. Skipping meals in anticipation of calorie-laden food can cause headaches, dizziness and additional stress. Eat sensibly before a special event and know that it’s fine to eat things that may not be on your meal plan.
As a weight loss patient, you can have a happy and healthy holiday season if you exercise the most important thing of all: common sense.