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.
The summer heat is being replaced by sunny days and cool nights, kids are getting settled in school, and hints of the holidays can be seen in stores. Fall is here! You may not think of preparing yourself for the holidays when summer is just winding down, but now is the perfect time to take a step back and think about how you are doing with your lifestyle and habits. It can be overwhelming, but when you break it down into small steps, IT IS DOABLE! Let’s take it one step at a time. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, let’s reset. Think about which part of the day you tend to be off track with your habits the most and work on that area first. Give yourself at least a month to fully get back on track.
First, determine if you do need a reset of your eating habits. If you are not sure you do, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I eating enough calories and protein to meet my needs, or have I been eating too much?
- Am I drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated? Am I drinking mostly non-calorie, decaffeinated, non-carbonated, and sugar-free beverages? How much alcohol am I drinking?
- Am I still taking bariatric multivitamins and other recommended supplements daily?
- Am I engaging in physical activity at least 3 days a week?
If you answered no to at least two of the above questions, you DO need a reset! Read on and try the tips below to help you get back on track before the hustle and bustle of the holidays sets in.
1) Wake up time. If you’ve been finding yourself jumping out of bed and hurrying to get things done — getting kids ready for school, preparing lunch boxes for everyone, getting yourself ready for work, etc, and you're already stressed out even before you get out of the house, whoa! Try this... Take deep breaths, inhaling through your nose for 5 seconds and exhaling through your mouth for 7 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Think about one thing you are grateful for. Make your bed. Doing this allows you to start the day on a positive note and gives you a sense of accomplishment as you begin your day.
2) Breakfast time. No time for breakfast? Try making a few batches of egg muffins once a week and freezing them in single serve containers for a quick reheat in the morning. Ready-to-drink protein shakes make great substitutes for a breakfast meal. There is no excuse for skipping breakfast!
3) Mid-morning. Feeling that mid-morning stress at work? Instead of grabbing chips, popcorn, and cookies and/or eating mindlessly, step away from your desk and take a 5-minute walking break indoors or out, even if you work from home.
4) Lunch time. If you find yourself ordering out or driving to the nearest restaurant to grab lunch, consider stocking your freezer with healthy frozen meals that have about 300 calories and 15-30 grams protein and 600 mg. sodium or less per serving. Plan to make big batches of meals you can freeze in single serve portions once a week or so. If you do order out, choose lower calorie, higher protein options from the menu.
5) Mid-afternoon. Having that afternoon energy crash? Re-boot your energy not by drinking a caffeinated beverage but by eating a small protein-containing snack. A protein snack will provide you with energy that lasts and will prevent cravings or nibbling before dinner. Trail mix made with a mix of nuts, dried fruit, and a little bit of dark chocolate mini morsels are crunchy, sweet, and a little salty — what most of us tend to crave at this time of the day to combat sleepiness.
6) Dinner time. What’s for dinner? You probably ask yourself this question many times in your head as you finish your workday or hear your kids asking you this same question. If you struggle with what to have for dinner or feel you do not have a lot of time to cook, consider a meal kit delivery service. Most of these services have customizable menus and can be delivered as kits with prepped ingredients you put together or ready-to-eat meals. The time and effort you save can be worth the cost.
7) Bed time. Ready for bed but finding yourself having cravings? Try sipping water and waiting to see if you still have the craving. Ask yourself, “Why am I wanting to eat this cookie now?” or do something to distract yourself from wanting to eat late at night. Try meditation, play some relaxing music, pray — just some things you can try. Journaling helps some people express their feelings on paper (or iPad). Write about how your day went, what went well, and what you are thankful for... Think about one or two goals you can work on and your action plan to help you achieve them.
How does working on these habits prepare you for the holidays? If you get yourself back on track now with the healthy habits you were so good at initially after your bariatric surgery, it will be easier to navigate the holidays and deal with the additional stress you may find yourself in during the holidays.
PS - Unfortunately, fall also marks the beginning of cold and flu season. Be sure to check out the BariMelts Immunity Bundle to stay one step ahead of those nasty germs.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.