One challenge some post op bariatric patients face is how to socialize in a world that stayed the same when yours feels totally different. Parties, for example, are fun, exciting, and notorious for featuring delicious, decadent, and over the top food. While at one time you may have thought of the food with eager anticipation, you might now be thinking of it with some apprehension. With the Super Bowl just days away and birthdays and holidays always just around the corner, it is vital to have a plan before joining in on the celebration.
One thing I’ve found to be really helpful when it comes to staying on track at parties is to be the one throwing it! When I am in charge of the menu it is much easier to include good-for-me appetizers, sides, and snacks. A dish of mixed nuts here, crustless baby quiches there, some sugar free treats that easily pass for the “real thing” tossed in for good measure and voila - healthy options that everyone enjoys!
When attending a get together where the menu isn’t within your control, there are a few of hints that can help.
First: Eat something healthy in advance that will keep you full and make it easier to pass up the umpteen courses in front of you. Showing up hungry is inviting the munchies (or grumbling stomach) to take over.
Second: Keep a glass of a zero or low calorie beverage in hand. Knowing that eating and drinking at the same time is never a good idea can keep you away from the appetizer table where excess calories abound.
Third: It’s never bad form to bring a dish to share and you can be sure it is something delicious and healthy. Knowing that you have at least one good for you option can prevent you from falling completely off the wagon!
Here are some healthy party dishes that I've made:
It also helps to prepare yourself for the questions you might get if you are fairly early out from surgery. People may ask about what you can or can’t have, how much (or more likely how little) you can eat, or even try to get you to try something they’ve made out of habit. Be patient and remember that just a few months ago you might have been at the front of the buffet line or the first to get seconds (I am speaking of myself here) so your new lifestyle is different to them. Be prepared to say things like, “Oh thank you, but I’m full.” or “No thank you, but that looks wonderful.” You can be polite and still hold firm to the decision you’ve made to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Finally, keep in mind that most parties are not just about the food. There is usually a game, a bride, a birthday boy, or something else to focus on. Enjoy yourself, make good choices, and remember how wonderful it feels to be in control!
- Written by Bettina M. Straight, Employee Engagement & Communications Consultant, LifeBridge Health, Human Resources
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