Being Bariatric and the Holidays – How to Survive

“I’m surrounded by temptation.”

The holidays can ramp up anxiety for a number of reasons.

brown acorn near clear long stem wine glass

And that can be especially true for folks trying to eat healthier and lose weight.

This time of year can feel like a cruel obstacle course, designed to make you fall face first into a vat of shortbread cookies, homemade pies, and pumpkin-spice everything.

It’s so defeating that many people say “to heck with it all” until after January 1st (which often turns into March something).

But there’s another, more flexible approach.

One that allows you to embrace the joy – and the treats – of the season and still sustain your healthy eating habits.

Practice eating to “80 percent full” (instead of “stuffed”). Eating to 80 percent full means you no longer feel hungry anymore – you feel “satisfied” – but there’s a still a little room left over.

Compare that to stuffed, which makes you feel more like you need to lay down for a while…or change into spandex. Sounds easy, but it can be trick to do. To notice the subtle differences between “still a bit hungry,” “satisfied,” and “full,” requires paying attention to physical sensations while eating. (That’s something you may not be accustomed to doing.

Instead of eating mindlessly, it requires a person to eat more mindfully – a heightened awareness that involves tuning into the flavors, textures, and overall experience of food.

Research shows eating mindfully is a highly effective way to feel satisfied with less – but without having to rely on willpower.

The idea here isn’t to be perfect.

It’s to practice eating more mindfully at every opportunity you get, noting how you feel before, during, and after you eat. 

And the holidays are a fantastic time to start. 

That’s because you can get in lots of practice mindfully eating foods you love and that are easy to overeat.

The upshot: You still get to enjoy Nonna’s famous amarettis and Uncle Bert’s bacon-wrapped turkey, but at the same time, you’ll be building a skill that’ll help yourself eat better all year (and for the rest of your life).

close up photo of bacon

Along with eating mindfully to 80 percent full, you can also…

Catch that all-or-nothing thinking.

Many have perfectionistic ideals: You feel like if you can’t execute your nutrition habits 100 percent, you won’t make progress. 

I encourage you to not only lean into the discomfort of doing things imperfectly but also the best that feels possible.

Maybe—for the next few weeks—you’re going to have more pie and cookies than usual. 

But maybe that doesn’t have to mean completely throwing in the towel and then feeling disgusted by the time 2023 comes around.

You can USE the holidays to make progress with your behavior, even though you’re not likely to eat “perfectly.” (That shouldn’t be the goal anyway…)

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