The Holidays--More Than a Meal
By Tina, professional, wife, mom, and bariatric patient
Ready or not, here they come! The holidays are right around the corner.
When we gather with friends or family, we eat. When we celebrate, we eat. When we’re happy, we eat. When we’re sad, we eat. The list goes on and on. But as a bariatric patient, I’ve learned that there’s more to life than eating.
Why do we make everything in life about food? And what can we do about it? One thing I’ve really worked on is changing HOW I think about food. I need it for nourishment--not for comfort, celebration, reward, or punishment. It shouldn’t feed me emotionally or control my happiness.
'Tis the Season Though, Right?
The changes after bariatric surgery don’t have to be scary, and the more you dwell on feeling or perceiving yourself as “different”, the harder this time of year can be because of all the gatherings and events involving food. Don’t let yourself feel left out--being a bariatric patient is not a lifetime sentence of being different, but your choices should be.
Since my support group friends are chock-full of wisdom and experience, I asked them to offer up their tips for surviving the holidays:
- Enjoy what you can. If you can alter it, do it. ~ Amanda (the friend who can make ANY recipe bari-friendly!)
- Don’t stress about it. It’s about spending time with family and friends. I take 1 tsp. full of each item so I can enjoy everything. Also, stay hydrated. ~ Tonya
- Focus on enjoying the company of your family and friends and the joy that it brings instead of depending on food to fill you with (empty) happiness. ~ Kelly
- Plan ahead. If you know that you are going to be tempted by dessert, come prepared with something you can eat. Same thing with any other food types. ~ Meredith
- If you can’t control “what” you eat, then control “how much” you eat. ~ Stephy
- Don’t try to control what you eat. That’s what got us where we were. Use and listen to the tool we have been given and enjoy the small amount you can eat. ~ Maribeth
The Joy of Support
This is just one of the benefits of connecting with a support group. You’ll build great relationships with people who understand what you’re going through and share your journey. They’ll offer encouragement, support, and often friendship.
If you’re not in a bariatric support group, what are you waiting for? Contact the Genesis Center for Weight Management to learn more about joining their bariatric support group.
For some the holidays can also be a time of sadness due to loneliness or missing loved ones, and it’s easy to turn to food for comfort. If you’re struggling in this area, look for other positive and productive ways to fill that void. Talk to a counselor or person you trust. Explore a new hobby or volunteer. There are endless opportunities out there to “plug in” or pay it forward.
Food is not our enemy, but unfortunately the way we think about it sometimes is. It doesn’t have to be this way--I still get to enjoy time with my family, holiday dinners, and even a few holiday parties. My goal for the holidays is moderation and maintenance--of my weight AND healthy habits. The holidays are DAYS, not weeks. So do enjoy them, but commit to staying on track.