Thursday, October 14, 2010

Living in a Non-Op World

Just because you had WLS, doesn't mean everyone else did too. How can you make good choices about living a healthy life when all those around you don't follow the same rules? Cookies in the breakroom at work --- dinner with friends who choose a buffet restaurant --- a family tradition of a lazy Sunday afternoon gathered around the TV. How can you remain a part of their lives, not grow resentful or angry, but still make good choices for your weight loss surgery lifestyle?

Here's a list of ideas the support group members came up with in response to various situations we'll find ourselves in after WLS. The goal is to still participate in things going on around you in life, but to do it in a way that you don't expect others to change their own behavior for your lifestyle choices.

My family only serves unhealthy food at gatherings so it's impossible to eat right around them!
  • I don't have to eat the food they make.
  • I can bring a healthy dish to pass to add to the meal.
  • I can choose to eat smaller portions.
  • Suggest a new recipe for the meal - a healthier option that's delicious too.
  • Talk to family members about boundaries or guilt-trips about not eating all their prepared dishes.
  • Suggest other types of family gatherings that don't focus on food.

During the holiday my Grandma slaves over the stove to bake cookies and other delicious treats. It'd be rude not to have one!
  • Thank Grandma for her hard work, but explain that eating sugary treats makes you sick and you can't indulge.
  • Ask if you can take some treats home for other family members instead.
  • Have one bite or taste only. (There's no need to eat the whole cookie!)
  • Share new healthier recipe options with Grandma and ask if you can make the treats together.

My spouse doesn't like to walk and I don't like to walk alone, so I don't get a lot of exercise.
  • Walk with a neighbor.
  • Get a dog.
  • Go to the mall and walk with the other mall walkers - and window shop!
  • Use a treadmill, stationary bike or video aerobics instead.
  • Park in the far corner of the parking lot to get extra walking in while doing errands.
  • Join a walking club or races.
  • The hard suggestion --- learn that walking by yourself is OK and can be a great way to meditate, clear your mind and get a great workout. Don't rely on someone else to get the exercise you need.
I have to buy chips and treats! My kids need them for their lunches. But I can't keep my hands out of them! (This applies to spouse's treats too)
  • Childhood obesity is approaching epic proportions. Kids don't need chips or sugary treats for lunch! Buy healthier options that you can eat too. Apples, soy crisps, veggie sticks, etc.
  • Set limits with children or spouses about which foods are allowed in the house. Your home is your safe domain and you have the rights to set the rules.
  • Keep treats for other family members in inconvenient places - outside the normal food storage spots. For instance, Lori's husband can have his potato chips, but they must be stored in his work truck, not in the house.
  • If there is no way around having unhealthy food in the house - then employ the techniques you've learned here: Managing Emotional Eating

There are always bagels, muffins and cake in the break room at work and bowls of candy on co-workers desks. I have no control over these daily temptations!
  • Stay away from the break room.
  • Keep healthy meals/snacks in your desk drawer that are "legal" for you.
  • Keep a dish of sugar free candies at your desk.
  • Be sure to eat breakfast and snacks according to your schedule so hunger does not become an added temptation.

When my friends go out to eat, they always choose a buffet restaurant. So I just sit at home and don't socialize with them anymore. ...Or... there's never anything healthy on restaurant menus, so I just order whatever I want and try not to feel guilt about eating bad food.
  • Prepare yourself before arriving at a restaurant. Most businesses have their menu published on their website along with nutrition information. Otherwise, use Diet Facts website to look up nutrition labels for menu items. Know what you'll order before you arrive.
  • Buffets are not evil. Have a plan of action before you decide what to eat. Browse the entire buffet first, then decide which foods meet your eating plan criteria. Use a small salad plate instead of a dinner plate. There are always several high-protein, lean meat choices - choose these first, then go for the veggies and healthy salad options. Load up your plate with the same amount of food as you'd serve yourself at home for a normal meal. Stop thinking of a buffet as "all you can eat" and start thinking of it as "eat what is right for me."
  • There's ALWAYS something you can order at a restaurant. It might take a bit of work and creativitiy to find those healthy options, but it's entirely possible. Don't be afraid of the restaurant menu!
  • Ask your server for help in choosing the healthiest options.
  • When ordering from a menu - anything is fair game. Ask for substitutions or order ala carte.
  • Understand cooking terms so you can order the healthiest prepared options.  Here's an online Food Dictionary that can help.
  • Request fat-free or low-sugar dressings for salads. Order dressing on the side and dip your fork in for each bite, rather than drowning your salad with too much dressing.
  • Replace unhealthy carbs (potatoes / rice) with healthy veggie option.
  • Request no oil or butter.
  • Avoid the bread basket - ask your server to take it away when other diners are done with their serving.
  • When your meal arrives, immediately ask your server for a to-go box. Divide your meal and decide what your allowed portion is, then box up the rest to take home. This will discourage over-eating.
  • If all else fails, order a mug of hot tea and just socialize with your friends/family. You can eat later when you get home. (This is NOT recommended though, the whole point of this exercise is to be part of the non-op world.)

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