Season 2 of The Big Ward, oh how I waited…
Just because we all affectionately call the end of the year the silly season doesn’t mean you need to let everything go out the window. If this is your first year post bariatric surgery, it’s going to be different and navigating that can be tough but you will get through! Wherever you’re at in your WLS journey having some perspective and going in prepared will make a world of difference for you.
One of the first things you will come to realise after weight loss surgery and losing your focus on food is just how much our social events and festive times like Christmas revolve around food and drinking. Christmas parties, shared lunches, catching up with clients for an end of year thank you lunch, some wines with the girls on Friday night all suddenly seem hard to navigate when you’re following a very structured way of eating.
To be honest I avoided as much social stuff as I could, especially if it was focused on food for about the first six months after my gastric bypass. It helped me greatly that I wasn’t working at the time and I had my surgery in February. Retreating was an easy option for me. If it’s not an option and you still want to be able to participate in the fun events around this time of year then I have some tips to make it easier for you.
Prepare yourself beforehand. If you need to have a specific meal to get your protein in and don’t want to leave it to chance make sure you eat before the event. This kills two birds with one stone. Firstly, you’ve had your protein and you’re looking after your needs and what’s important. Secondly, if you’re full and not on the lookout for something yummy you will be far less tempted by whatever is on offer at the event.
I used to pack my own little lunchbox for ages after my surgery and if I was going to someone’s house and there was nothing suitable for me I would have my packed food. If you’re able to be open about your surgery with others this is an easy option but if not you could always use the, I ate earlier and I’m still full excuse, to get through if you need to. Even now I always have protein bars in my handbag and car just in case. If you are going to eat when you’re out and you’re in the first six months after surgery proceed with caution and stick to things you know work well. Trying something new may not go well and it will add a hiccup you don’t need when you’re out having fun.
It’s not just the food that’s going to present a bit of difficulty for you this silly season. The people are going to throw fun, new challenges your way too. If you’re at the point where people are noticing that you’re shrinking at a remarkable rate it’s inevitable that you are going to be asked nosy questions about what’s going on. If you’re happy to talk about your weight loss surgery, that’s fantastic, go forth and educate the masses. If you’re not telling people or wanting to talk about it, you better get your thinking cap on and come up with some vague responses that will get people to back off. One great thing to remember is that people love to talk about themselves. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or not really wanting to talk about it just ask them questions about themselves, deflect the attention away from you and get them onto a different topic.
It’s crucial to remember what’s important for you, follow the directions your team have given you and listen to your body. Don’t get swept away in the silliness of the season, seriously you can live without the chocolate or whatever it is that you are tempted to try. Find the joy that is to be had in drinking a protein shake and having puree for Christmas dinner, sometimes the greatest joy can be found in the strangest of places. Stay mindful of what’s most important for you now and what your body needs, if this is your first Christmas after surgery it’s going to be the most difficult one. In one, two or three years’ time things will be different again and it won’t be such a huge deal. Take the time to reflect on what’s truly important to you about Christmas. When it all boils down the food, while a central focus, is usually not the most important thing about our festivities.
Christmas is coming. Be prepared, focus on what’s important and be creative with your ideas on how to manage your needs and the expectations placed upon you by the season. What’s your favourite (non-food) thing about the festive season? I really enjoy the magic of the season and my ridiculous, over the top Christmas themed jewellery. I may have already got my Christmas jewellery out in anticipation for December 1st! Comment below and let me know what you’re looking forward to, I’d love to hear from you!