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BF Survival Guide: Holiday Parties

~~by Nikki

Happy Holidays!

If you’re anything like me, you have a whole troth of parties to attend this holiday season. Everybody seems to have one: your job, your friends, your family, your neighbors, even your support group!

You all know I’m all for moderation, but once you get to the seventh party…moderation has sort of abandoned you four parties ago! So what do you do? How do you survive without totally back tracking???

We’ll address these questions and more in this BF Survival Guide!

First and foremost…Get Organized!



House of Doolittle Three-Month Calendar 14 Months December 2010 to January 2011, 12.25 x 26.5 Inch, Large Numbered Days, Recycled (HOD3640)

Sit down with a calendar and mark all the holiday parties to which you’ve been invited. If you don’t have all your invites, also make a list of all parties to which you anticipate being invited. You might also develop a rating system of some sort based on how much you really want to go to that party. Because, in reality, it’s ok to say no. It’s ok to say that you’re really busy and you’re so sorry you can’t make it and that you hope they have a great holiday just the same. It’s ok.

But aside from that, some prioritization is necessary. You might rate parties based on the host’s willingness or habit of having healthy offerings. You might place special emphasis on potlucks, to which YOU can bring a weight loss surgery friendly treat.

Once you are all organized, you have some decisions to make

Decide in advance which parties you’ll attend and which ones you’ll skip. You have your own unique prioritization methods, so I’m not going to micromanage your process. It might be that you can’t skip the office party but you can skip the neighborhood shindig.

For the ones you decline, be polite but firm in refusing. But do hold steady to your refusal. This step may seem oversimplified, but I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten tripped up by conflicting invitations.

And many times there is more behind an invitation than the invitation. If you sit down, look at it all, think it out, you know what forces are working in your holiday invites and how you’d like to respond to them. That way you aren’t caught in any office-political, familial, clique tugs of war that wreak havoc on your emotional well-being.

For the parties where the hosts tend to have healthy offerings…

Those are the easy parties. Choose the best of what’s there to offer, use a small plate (and I am not above bringing one of my own), mingle a LOT (if no one person is with you too long, they can’t contemplate what you are and are not eating and how much), laugh, sing Christmas carols.

A word of caution, however. Especially for newer folks. Holiday parties tend to involve alcohol. You should always refer to your surgeon’s advice about alcohol.

My program allows it in moderation. However, with my rearranged guts, one glass of wine would have me dancing on a table with a lampshade over my head. That’s not a good look.

If you do choose to do alcohol…TINY SIPS…seriously. Trust me on this one. My very first post-op drink (some wine about a year post-op), I shared with someone. That worked well.

For the parties where the hosts do NOT tend to have healthy offerings…

See here’s the deal. I have this belief. It reads sort of like a scientific hypothesis. In order to avoid a complete meltdown, every bad food choice has to be accompanied by an equally or more yummy good food choice. If this is the case, you’ll go for the healthy yummies and won’t feel the least bit resentful about what anybody else is eating.

To that effect, be empowered to bring something to the party. Here are some do’s and don’ts in that regard:

  • DO let the host know you’re bringing a dish. If you haven’t told them about the surgery, you might say “oh I have this fabulous holiday dish I just love to share. Do you mind if I bring it?” That usually works for me. See the end of this post for some good suggestions on what to bring.
  • DO prepare something you don’t mind going back home with. It might be the best thing ever to you, but it may not be a non-op’s cup of tea.
  • DON’T tell anyone it is particularly healthy. Just put it on the damn table and walk away! Everyone feels like there should be a “healthy food” disclaimer. You’re giving them something that is GOOD for their bodies. In reality, they should be warning people about the simple carb, sugar and fat-fest THEY are laying out.
  • DON’T let your dish be the only dish you try. Remember…moderation is key. Chances are there are some foods you can try besides the one you brought. It kind of looks snooty if you don’t at least put something else on your plate! Just sayin.

In addition, here is a no-fail one liner that gets me through parties where people don’t know about my surgery.

Host: You don’t seem to be eating much…(or some variation)

Me: What…you didn’t see that huge helping of X I had on my plate a minute ago? You are really a great cook! Can I get that recipe…?

(The above is nice because you don’t technically have to be lying. You could have had what seems, to you, to be a huge helping of said food on your plate. It doesn’t mean you ate it. And by complimenting them and asking for the recipe, you get the conversation away from you quickly!)

The White Elephant in the Room…dessert!

Yes, yes…we get it. Dessert is the crown jewel of a Christmas party. In years past it was a goose or a duck. Now it’s some sweet confection that’s been decorated to look like who knows what. And you want some, don’t you?

We’re not going to tell you not to eat it. You are a grown person and can do whatever you choose. Some points to consider though:

  • If you don’t know if you dump, this is NOT the time to find out. Trust us on that one.
  • This surgery and lifestyle is about making healthy choices. Having a small portion of something you really want is not an unhealthy choice. So many times we set ourselves up with a “pass/fail” mentality. Eating the cookie, knowing that you told yourself you’re only going to have one and really only having one, is not a fail. It’s a win. You set a limit for yourself. YOU took control. So if you want to have the cookie, and you don’t think it’ll make you sick, have the cookie. It won’t kill you. If it makes you feel better, go an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill the next day.
  • However, if you have dessert, you might want to go lighter on some of your other indulgent choices. This process is about trade-offs. Perhaps, for your plan, it comes down to either the drool worthy spinach dip or a bite of the yule log.
  • If you choose NOT to have any of the offered desserts, I usually defer to my hypothesis above and bring a WLS friendly dessert. Again, I don’t share that it’s healthy. I sit it down, take my portion and walk away…

Now…to make absolutely sure you have SOMETHING you can eat, here are some suggestions:

Holiday parties are like a dietary battlefield! We hope we’ve armed you well enough to get through them unscathed. If you want to report in on how YOU get through all the festivities, hit us up! We’d love to post your tip!

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One comment

  1. Everybody knows about my surgery. lol I always just say "I'll bring a SF dessert" I'm locally famous for my sf desserts.