You’ve probably heard of the freshman fifteen. But you’re most likely not familiar with the Holiday five to ten. According to a study, this is the average amount of weight an overweight or obese person gains during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. People that fall within a normal weight range and BMI tend only to gain a pound during this same period. But how do the Holidays and all the food impact people that have undergone bariatric surgery?
It’s no surprise that many people gain weight during the Holidays. A study done by the Calorie Control Council found that the average American consumes upwards of 4,500 calories during Thanksgiving. And if you thought that number was high, you haven’t seen anything yet because Christmas eating racks up to 6000 calories during the day! If you were following the 2,000 calories a day diet that the Food and Drug Administration uses on nutrition labels, that means you were eating two to three times more calories on these days.
Although surgical procedures like the sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass limit how much a person can eat at a time, weight gain can still be a real concern for many. Paula Wolfe, a nutritionist who works with bariatric patients, offers some simple tips to help post-op patients stay on track. “It’s important to go back to the basics of how you ate in the two months after your surgery,” she says. Before surgery, all patients go through nutritional counseling explaining how their eating habits will change after their procedure. Wolfe says “it’s important to eat your lean proteins first before filling up on all the casseroles and sides.” Most of these items are full of carbs, fat, and calories and can add up to 400 calories per one cup serving. “It’s important to eat every few hours and not wait until you are starving because this is when you are most likely to overindulge,” she adds.
The main course and sides are only part of the holiday battle. Alcoholic drinks and the many desserts are also responsible for people going over their normal daily calorie intake. Kay Williams, 60, had her gastric bypass procedure in 2010. “It’s been years since my surgery so I can definitely eat more than I initially could post-op. I write everything I eat or drink down so I can keep myself accountable,” she said. People that have had gastric bypass typically cannot eat foods that are high in sugar because they will experience dumping syndrome, an adverse reaction that results in sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting. Williams admits that she does indulge a bit and will enjoy a very small slice of pie or a cookie every so often. Nutritionist Paula Wolfe “agrees that it’s best not to deprive yourself, but to be mindful of your portions. If you want to try a piece of pumpkin pie, go for it. Depriving yourself completely can lead to binge eating and making yourself physically sick.”