Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
This time of year brings all the feels of fall. Ahhh, can't you just taste and smell all things pumpkin spiced? But what also comes to mind are all the events that seem to pop up at the first sign of crisp air, from fall festivals to social gatherings, community events, and more. This also means our habits and routines can quickly derail before we know it. For those who have spent years trying to develop better habits (especially if you've had weight loss surgery), it can be a little intimidating to attend all the events while making the right decisions. And then there's the guilt... You know what I'm talking about, right? The pies, the charcuterie boards, the yummy bread, name your poison. Temptation seems to be at every corner, and it's so easy to give in. It's okay to give in! But if you give in multiple times per week for weeks on end, that can present a problem and be a slippery slope. But it's not all about the food.
Adding all these fun fall-themed events can interrupt your self-care routine. Maybe you start missing a few weekly workouts or stop your daily meditation. Or perhaps you're not prioritizing meal planning and prep as you once were, and now you're getting takeout more often. See where I'm going with this? All of these interruptions are just a part of life. It will be up to you to create a lifestyle you know you can quickly return to when times get chaotic. But don't fret! Check out these tips on how to make in-the-moment decisions and to help keep you on the right track with your weight loss after surgery.
When faced with food decisions, ask yourself these questions:
1) Is it worth eating/drinking? In other words, how bad do you want it? Use this simple scale method. Gauge how much you want the treat on a scale of 1-10. If you want it at a 10, go for it. Have a couple of bites, eat it slowly, enjoy it, and think about it as you chew. Are you satisfied, or do you really want more? Be mindful. If you want another bite, go for it if you can do so responsibly. Know when to hit the brakes. Put the treat back if you want the given food/drink at a 1 out of 10. It's not worth it.
2) Is it the food I want, or is it the experience? Personally, I have been faced with this thought many times. I've noticed that I tie many nostalgic foods to my childhood. Sometimes I feel obligated to have it as an adult just because of the past. But when I actually think about it, I enjoy its memory. I like to know that it's there and available. But maybe it just doesn't align with my goals or tastebuds anymore. In other words, it's the past experience of the food or beverage rather than the actual consumption of it that I enjoy. Interesting, right?! Food for thought!
3) Will this decision set me into poor patterns over the next few days, weeks, or months? If you can have a little pow-wow with yourself and think something through before making your decision, odds are you can talk yourself out of many choices you may regret. Will this one little decision result in a domino effect? Will it determine your subsequent decisions over the next few days, weeks, or even months? Play it out in your mind. If you feel confident that food decisions won't totally dictate the future, go for it. If you know yourself well and your answer is yes, tread carefully. This is what we call mindfulness and being intentional.
Other useful tips:
Know before you go. What food will be offered at the event? If you know what options will be available, great! You can map out what you will be able to eat. If you don't know, it would be a good idea to eat something substantial before you go so you're not left to willpower to make the in-the-moment decisions for you.
Practice self-care before the event. Sure, the day might be hectic, but find time to get at least a 10-minute exercise. Do anything, really! Check it off your list! Say you've done it! Eat healthfully, and hit your protein and hydration goals. You do it every day anyway. No other day should be any different.
Don't beat yourself up. Have fun. Enjoy whatever you want (if you want it at a 10/10), and move on. The post-surgery lifestyle isn't about avoiding all "bad" things; nothing is 100% off limits. Tomorrow is a new day, and you get to start over again. Reset, move on, and stay focused.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.