Keeping on top of a bariatric diet during the six-week span of holiday celebrations may seem daunting, especially when the kickoff is an event designed solely around eating as much as possible - Thanksgiving. It's a rough holiday for everyone, with the average American gaining 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As this time of year presents an even more unique meal-planning challenge if you've had weight loss surgery, we've put together some easy-to-follow ideas and recipes to help put your mind at ease about the meal. You can spend more time enjoying friends and family and less time worrying about everything else.
Things to Remember
Whether you relax your doctor's rules or strictly adhere, after bariatric surgery one of the most important things to do is at least take the right approach to the big meal using these simple guidelines:
- Protein first! Be sure to focus on eating the protein-rich foods available and eat them before others, with vegetables being 2nd and starches coming last. Consider pre-gaming with a protein/nutrition shake before the meal to start out ahead.
- Pass on the booze. It is highly recommended to avoid consuming alcoholic beverages with your meal, but be sure to get plenty of water/liquids.
- Keep it moving. Add some type of movement or exercise as part of the day. Many gatherings include a flag football game or a walk. Or, start a new Thanksgiving tradition with others and have a walk before and after the big meal!
- Small plates, slowly. Try to make small plates and take a little time to slowly enjoy your meal. See our guide on creating balanced, portion-controlled plates here. Also, be careful with the leftovers and encourage other guests to take them home.
Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes
If you're dedicated to preparing a strict, bariatric feast on Thanksgiving (and it's not necessarily the most friendly holiday to your diet), we've put together some delicious recipes you can try.
Low-carb Cheesy Tuna Casserole: This recipe eliminates the noodles and adds green peas to offer a more fiber-rich, but lower carbohydrate option. View the recipe here.
Roasted Turkey Breast: This recipe is simple to put together and make, plus gives you all the Turkey Day feels (plus the protein) with less of the fats. View the recipe here.
Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Dressing and Low-fat Gravy and more: This mega-list has some great, healthier recipes for some of the most traditional holiday meal sides, including Pumpkin Pie Ramekins! See the recipes here.
Faux Carb Cheesy Mashed Potatoes: Get the creamy experience of a baked potato with sour cream in an easy-to-digest puree version of the Turkey Day side favorite using cauliflower and yogurt. View the recipe here.
Pumpkin Mousse: Craving that devilish, after-meal Thanksgiving dessert, but didn't think it was possible? Never fear, with this Pumpkin Pie replacement recipe, you can get your holiday fix for freshly baked pumpkin pie without the empty calories. Check out the recipe here.
Reboot Traditional Thanksgiving Foods
Sometimes, your holiday reality is that you may end up going a little against doctor's orders and cheating some on Thanksgiving. It's important to stick as close as possible to your prescribed diet on Thanksgiving, but if you end up cutting a few corners, you can get lighter healthier results if you are able to make some adjustments to your menu.
Turkey: Fortunately, this holiday staple is a great lean protein source. If you can enjoy it without the skin, it helps remove the saturated fat. You can further reduce calories by avoiding the excess butter, oil and sugar that is often added. Instead, use herbs and citrus fruit juice to liven it up.
Stuffing: Living up to its name, stuffing can often leave you stuffed in a bad way. Try using whole wheat breadcrumbs, brown rice or couscous-based stuffing to add filling fiber. Bring back the lost flavor with herbs, spices and vegetables.
Mashed Potatoes: It's fairly easy to eliminate some of the worst offenders in this side dish by taking out the loads of butter, salt and cream. Even better, you can make replacements with a mixed potato or root mash, then roast/boil mashed vegetables and add yogurt or roasted garlic with some fat-free soft cheese.
Get more tips like these for healthier Thanksgiving gravy, cranberry sauce and green beans here at Bariatric Cookery.