Make Thanksgiving Great: Bariatric-Friendly Meal Kits

Article By: Maria Tucker, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES

Maria Tucker is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 20 years of experience assisting patients with diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related conditions.

Thanksgiving is almost here, and there is no doubt that most of us are already planning our Thanksgiving meals. Having a beautiful golden-brown roasted turkey or glistening spiral ham is something to look forward to. However, it can be a daunting, overwhelming task since there are sides, appetizers, and desserts to prepare and serve as well. It can take all day prepping and cooking, leaving you with less time to spend with your guests.

Nowadays, it’s easy to skip all that prepping and cooking but still have a delicious meal to serve your guests. How, you ask? Well, there are online meal delivery services and local grocery stores offering various options for your holiday meal. When you’ve had bariatric surgery, it is important to choose your meal components wisely to ensure not only that you tolerate them well but that they taste good.

Here are some tips to help you find which holiday meal kit is best for you to purchase:

  • A protein source is a must have, whether it be turkey, ham, prime rib, or a vegetarian option.
  • Healthy options for sides should be offered such as salad, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, and steamed or sautéed veggies (just not casseroles).
  • Smaller meal kits should be available such as meals for two so there won’t be as many leftovers.
  • A la carte options should be offered (in addition to full meal kits) with several sides included so you can select more or less food depending on the number of servings needed.
  • An option to purchase just the roasted turkey or baked ham should be available, and you can make your own healthy side dishes.

The Good Housekeeping website (goodhousekeeping.com) lists twenty-two places where you can order your holiday meal kits. Prices of these kits can be anywhere from $119 - $550 depending on the number of servings and how many sides are included in the kit. Try out one of these meal kits on Good Housekeeping’s list that offer some healthier sides for your Thanksgiving meal:

1) Harry and David. This online food delivery service offers meal kits with oven-roasted turkey, fully cooked, by itself or as part of a complete meal. They offer healthier sides such as sautéed almond green beans and apple sausage stuffing.

2) Cracker Barrel. This restaurant offers small meal kits for 4-6 people and large meal kits for 8-10 people. Their meal kits come with sides including cranberry relish, simmered green beans, or baby carrots for healthier options.

3) Bob Evans. This country style restaurant offers several options for their holiday meal kits with cold-packed, heat and eat options, as well as hot meal options. Their Farmhouse Feast options serve 4, 8, or 10 people and includes a choice of slow-roasted turkey or hickory-smoked ham. They also offer a Pot Roast Farmhouse Feast for 10 people. Sides include some healthier options like green beans with ham, corn, and mashed potatoes. Their hot meal kit serves 6 people and requires no prep time. It can be purchased with either slow-roasted turkey or hickory-smoked ham and the same side options as the Farmhouse cold-packed meal kits.

4) Whole Foods. Your local Whole Foods offers holiday meal kits with the number of servings per kit ranging from 4, 8, or 12 people. The kits are cold-packed and require heating prior to serving. Sides include sea salt and cracked pepper green beans, creamed spinach, and roasted butternut squash among others. Their premium Thanksgiving Feast and Thanksgiving Extravaganza Meal Kits for 12 include both ham and roasted turkey, and a few more sides in addition to what comes with their Classic Whole Turkey meal kit. Whole Foods also offers meal kits with ham, beef, lamb, salmon, and even vegan options.

5) Williams Sonoma. This popular kitchen and home goods store offers a holiday meal kit for 8 with free-range roasted turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes. They also offer a Deluxe Sides Bundle that serves 10 and includes Brussels sprouts, gruyere custard, corn pudding, and asparagus gratin among others.

The holidays should not be a time to focus on losing weight as it can add more stress to what can be an already stressful time. The high stress level during the holidays can lead to frustration and even giving up on your goals.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays guilt-free:

  • Focus on maintaining weight and enjoying the holidays and time with family and friends. “Maintain don’t gain” is a good motto for the holiday season!
  • Eat normally the day of the event to prevent being too hungry by the time you get to your dinner party. Skipping meals and snacks during the day and saving your calories for the special holiday meal can lead to overeating.
  • Hydrate well and stick to non-calorie beverages to prevent consuming excess calories from sugary drinks or alcohol.
  • Remember to put a protein food on your plate first, then a non-starchy vegetable side.
  • Leave off starches and bread that you can eat any time such as mashed potatoes or dinner rolls, and save the carbs for a small piece of a special dish (even dessert) you only get to eat during the holidays, if you are able to tolerate it and have room to indulge.
  • Include some ways to be physically active during the holidays — play a little football toss in the backyard after dinner, have a karaoke night, play danceable music, or simply take a stroll in the neighborhood to burn off calories.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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