Holiday eating after bariatric (weight loss) surgery: 10 tips to enjoy the festive season

The festive season can be quite challenging after weight loss surgery but remember surgery is a tool that you will work with long-term. You can still enjoy this time with family and friends. The key is to plan ahead and don’t fight your new stomach and food restrictions. Instead, work alongside it and embrace it. Here are some tips to keep you on track:


festive season


  1. Don’t forget the basics – protein first

Don’t let all the good habits you’ve learnt around eating, fly out the window. Make sure at least half the plate is protein and focus on eating this first. Roast chicken, turkey or lamb and fresh seafood are great options. Next, load up on vegetables.


  1. Watch your portion sizes

Watching your portion size is one of the most important steps in guarding yourself from the over-eating trap this Christmas. Use a bread and butter plate and fill it up with the right amount of food for you. 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. Try to eat slowly and track your intake.  Importantly don’t go back for seconds.

It is unrealistic to say that we are not going to have any dessert on Christmas Day. Stick to a small amount -have 3 bites and savour it – enjoy it! No guilt!


  1. Bring a dish to share

If you worry about holiday parties being awash with calorific foods, always take something you can eat (never nominate to take a dessert). This way you will always have a food that you know you can tolerate.


  1. Be mindful and enjoy your food

Try to pace yourself while you eat. Savour the taste, chew mindfully, and listen to how your body feels.

Eating this way slows down your eating, encourages you to enjoy the tastes and allows you to feel satisfied with a smaller portion.


  1. Keep an eye on your snacks

Everyone loves a good snack, but it can be easy to lose track of how many snacks you’ve eaten throughout the day. Everything adds up, so keeping a close eye on your snacking can help you avoid eating too much.

Your surgery has provided you with an incredible tool to restrict the amount of food eaten in a sitting. It doesn’t however necessarily prevent grazing, of which the festive season can often encourage.


  1. Think about your drinks and keep hydrated

It can be very easy to drink your calories during Christmas and New Year celebrations. Watch out for juices, wines, and fizzy drinks.

Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories. In addition to adding calories, alcohol actually can dehydrate you. You also should be aware that alcohol can affect you differently after bariatric surgery. You may feel the effects much sooner with less alcohol. You are also more likely to overindulge at the buffet table after a couple drinks. Enjoy 1 glass, and sip away at it over a long period of time. Then go back to water.


  1. Separate your food and drinks

Eating and drinking at the same time after bariatric surgery interferes 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.


  1. Don’t skip meals

Although it may be tempting to skip meals to save your calories for holiday treats, it’s better to focus on having regular meals. Have a small amount of something high protein and nutritious before you head off. You are more likely to overindulge if you arrive at the party hungry.


  1. Exercise

The festive season can be a busy time, and it’s easy to let exercise routines fall by the wayside. It’s much easier to get out of the habit of exercising than it is to get back into it once the holidays are over. Consider scheduling a time for exercise or organising family activities that get everyone moving. Walking off your Christmas lunch is a lovely way to end the day.


  1. Be kind to yourself

It is normal to feel a little self-conscious and anxious about festive celebrations after bariatric surgery. So you overindulged a bit. That doesn’t mean all is lost. Forgive yourself, recommit to healthy patterns and move on. It is just one day – you won’t put on weight if you have more balance in your diet every other day.

Health goes a lot deeper than your weight so consider your mental health above all else. Enjoy yourself and have fun!


Dr Mohgah Elsheikh