Healthier Plate

A Guide to a Healthier Thanksgiving for Weight Loss Surgery Patients

Nov 23, 2020

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! While your Thanksgiving may look a little bit different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no doubt food is still on the menu.

Weight loss surgery patients may feel anxious about the holiday season for fear of overeating and regaining weight. If you have some concerns about making it through Thanksgiving with no regrets, make note of these tips for a healthy Thanksgiving.

Fill up before the big meal. Eat a healthy breakfast, drink plenty of water, and have a healthy snack before it’s time for the big feast.


Eat smaller portions. It’s easy to overdo it on Thanksgiving. Use a smaller plate (or try a portion control plate) to help keep your portion sizes small.


Savor each bite. Put your fork down between each bite and take time to be grateful for the food in front of you. Eating slowly gives your brain time to send the signal that your stomach is full. Eat too quickly and you’ll likely miss that signal until it’s too late and you’re stuffed.


Stop when you’re full. Your turkey should be stuffed — not you. The purpose of Thanksgiving isn’t to gorge yourself; enjoy your meal, but remember, there will always be leftovers.


Add flavor with seasonings and broth, not fat. Use fat-free chicken broth to baste your turkey and make your gravy instead of butter.


Skip the skin. Eating the skin can double the fat content of your meat, and significantly increase calories. Remember, light meat has fewer calories, but less iron than dark meat.


Make healthy substitutions. If a recipe calls for sugar substitute it with pure honey instead. Honey is a natural sweetener that can be substituted 1:1 in most recipes. Fruit puree, such as applesauce, can be subbed for oil in baked goods, and plain yogurt is a healthy alternative to sour cream in dips, mashed potatoes and casseroles.


Eat your calories, don’t drink them. Stay hydrated with water or tea, and avoid alcohol or sodas that pack on what we call “empty calories.”


Stay active. Exercise first thing in the morning, and then after the big meal, get outside and play a game of flag football with the family, or go for a brisk walk before you veg out on the couch to watch the football game. If you’re up for a new challenge, register to participate in a virtual Turkey Trot!


Stick to your weight loss surgery diet phase. If you’re working through the pre-op or post-op diet during Thanksgiving, don’t let things slide. Remember the guidelines of your diet and stick to them.


Focus on weight maintenance, rather than weight loss. With the celebrations and the stress of the holidays, thinking too much about trying to lose weight during the holidays will only add stress, which can in turn lead to weight gain. Instead, simply focus on maintaining your weight by exercising and eating smart.

Remember, the holidays are more about relishing the time you have with loved ones, rather than the food. In a year that has forced us to slow down and appreciate what truly matters in life, keep an attitude of gratitude and savor the time you have to make new memories with those closest to you.