Festive 'eating' after weight loss surgery

Christmas and New Year celebrations will be very different this year if your weight loss surgery is scheduled for the festive season and Christmas-New Year holiday break.

Your surgery limits whether you can eat and what you can eat.

Pushing the boundaries with festive food is not worth the risk after surgery to the stomach area.

If you have a gastric band, there’s a risk you could move it out of position. After gastric sleeve and roux-en-y gastric bypass, there’s a risk of tearing the cut stomach along the staple line.

Because food cannot be the focus of your celebrations this year, prepare your brain for something completely different.

After all, it’s only for one year. Christmas and New Year, like birthdays come around every year – there are plenty more around the corner.

If you are going to celebrations at someone else’s place, you need to be upfront and tell them.

Tell your hosts ahead of time that a) you won’t be eating but you’d love to enjoy their company over a drink, and b) please don’t be offended if you pick you way around the meal, but your doctor/dentist has advised you to eat very slowly and not to eat foods that need chewing.

If they don’t know you have had weight loss surgery and you don’t intend on telling them, fudge an excuse such as ‘you have had emergency tooth repairs and the dentist has said no chewing at all’ or ‘you’ve had a bug and don’t feel like much’.

Because friends know you are usually a good eater, they will notice if you don’t tell them ahead.

If you’ve booked to go out to dinner, cancel it if you can or send someone in your place! There is no way that you’ll enjoy the event and the temptation to eat will be too strong.

If the celebrations are at your place, then relax. You are in control and can develop a menu to suit your needs.

Volume control.

How much you can manage at a single time depends on the surgery you have had and is best discussed with your own dietitian and surgeon.

  • Use the same style of crockery and glassware as you use for guests to avoid drawing unwanted attention to your intake.
  • Manage the volume with daintier bowls for everyone or child-size bowls for the kids and yourself set inside or atop a plate.
  • Arrange food creatively on the plate to create an illusion of more.
  • Some people want to go to extremes to disguise their small serves. If that’s you, try placing an upturned smaller plate inside a bowl, before you add the food, to create an illusion of fullness.

Fluid phase.

Make a special effort with festive liquids to suit both you and your guests. Take the focus off eating and put more energy into conversation and having fun.

Ideas to get you started:

  • Lassi shakes – a delicious blend of sweet yoghurt, milk, soft fruits and ice.
  • Frappes – essentially frozen or fresh fruit pureed with extra juice and ice.
  • Chilled or hot summer soups – if it has lumps, then simply strain yours when serving up in the kitchen. If you feel embarrassed about not sitting down with a main course, then plate a tiny serve and play with your meal but do not eat it! Or better still, fudge the excuse about not being allowed to chew – the doctor/dentist said so.
  • Thin sweet custard sauce with a pureed berry sauce. Your guests won’t know that your bowl doesn’t contain plum pudding!

Be cautious with alcohol because you may drop your guard and attempt to consume something unwise.

Pureed phase.

Don’t gamble that you’ll be safe to chew! This is a dangerous move that could cause band slippage or a torn staple line.

Remember to pace your meal out and serve only tiny amounts. You are sampling not gulping. 

Rethink the menu and serve variety platters or tapas to keep that sampling feeling strong for all guests.

If anyone notices that you are eating small and you feel you must respond but don’t want them to know about the surgery, just say you’ve been picking all afternoon and have had your fill already!

Ideas to get you started:

  • For a low-key event, hunt through the supermarket and deli for a savoury mousse, smoked salmon or trout, smooth dips, pate, sorbet, gourmet yoghurts, plum pudding and custard.
  • If you enjoy cooking, then whip up something for all guests to share. Search your own recipe books for something smooth and very soft. Try:
    • Savoury salmon mousse, turkey terrine or crab soufflé.
    • Smooth dips such as cannelloni, beetroot and baba ganosh – don’t eat the dipping stick (discretely throw it away).
    • A smooth bread sauce or stuffing served with creamy mash.
    • Mush your plum pudding down with custard.
    • Create a soft or crumbled meringue stack with gourmet yoghurt and berry or mango sauce.
    • Serve a homemade crème caramel or panna cotta.
    • Enjoy a traditional trifle that you mash and squish before eating.

Christmas food hampers and edible gifts!

A creative (not really) friend or relative knows how much you love food and always selects edible gifts.

It happens every year, but this year you don’t want the food so drop some hints loud and clear, right now. Plant a stack of non-edible gift ideas into their brain.

Check out my gift and wish list for starting ideas and a template to work with.

If the culprit person lives with you, place a wish list of must-haves on the fridge door or as pop-up on the computer screen.

Make a decision today about how you will deal with any edible gifts that come your way. Choose to a) don’t break the seal and re-wrap them to gift on to someone else or b) remove them from the house by taking them down to a homeless people’s shelter or c) take them into your workplace for others to devour when you return to work

Some fluid and puree-soft recipe ideas to get you thinking….

You’re bound to find other recipes that are suitable within your own collection of recipe books and clippings.

There is no need to buy a special cookbook.


Some fluid and puree-soft recipe ideas to get you thinking ….

You’re bound to find other recipes that are suitable within your own collection of recipe books and clippings.

There is no need to buy a special cookbook.

Mango and coconut lassi (1)

Make sure all ingredients are really cold to start with. Combine 1 cup low fat plain yoghurt, 1 cup low fat milk, ¾ cup fresh or frozen mango, 1 tsp castor sugar, and 1-2 drops of coconut essence. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately in chilled glasses.

Banana and coconut lassi (1)

Replace the mango with 1 banana in the recipe above.

Raspberry and rosewater lassi (1)

Replace the mango and coconut essence with 100 g frozen raspberries and 1 to 2 drops of rosewater

Berry frappe (2) – serves 6-8

  1. Blend 250g strawberries, 120g raspberries, 150g blueberries until smooth.
  2. Pass through a fine sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Rinse the blender and return the berry juice and add 2 trays of ice cubes. Blend until ice is crushed.
  4. Pour about 50 ml berry crush into a glass and top up with chilled cranberry juice.
  5. Stir and serve.


  • Berry yoghurt pots (3) - serves 4
  • Ingredients:

    • 2 tbs gelatine
    • 2 tbs water
    • 2 egg whites
    • 75 g (1/3 cup castor sugar)
    • 400g low fat berry yoghurt
    • 150g mixed fresh or frozen berries – pureed and chilled (or serve whole for your guests)


    1. Sprinkle gelatine over the water in a small heatproof bowl. Place bowl in simmering water and stir until the gelatine dissolves or microwave on high for about 20-45 seconds. Cool slightly.
    2. With an electric mixer or hand whisk, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar dissolves.
    3. Place yoghurt in a medium bowl. Stir in gelatine and then gently fold in whisked egg whites until evenly distributed. Take care not to over-mix as the air will disappear out of the egg whites and the mousse will be heavy.
    4. Spoon into individual serving bowls – make yours a half serve!
    5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until set. Top with pureed berries.


    Chocolate mocha cremes (1) - serves 4


    • 2 x 375 ml cans of light evaporated milk
    • 2 tbs cocoa powder
    • 2 tsp instant coffee powder (optional)
    • ¼ cup castor sugar
    • 1 ½ tbs gelatine
    • ¼ cup water


    1. Combine evaporated milk, cocoa, coffee and castor sugar in a saucepan. Whisk over heat until just below boiling point – do not boil.
    2. Combine gelatine and water in a bowl and stir over boiling water until dissolved or microwave on high for about 20-45 seconds. Cool slightly.
    3. Stir gelatine into mixture and spoon into individual serving bowls – make yours a half serve!
    4. Refrigerate until set.

    Chilled salmon mousse (4) - serves 4


    • 2 tsp gelatine
    • 1 tbs water
    • 1 cup Greek-style plain yoghurt
    • 210 g canned salmon (remove bones)
    • 1 tbs fresh herb (dill, parsley or coriander)
    • 2 tbs lemon juice
    • 1 egg white
    • Cracked pepper or finely chopped capers or horseradish
    • Tabasco or chilli sauce optional
    • Optional smoked salmon strips


    1. Briefly blend salmon, herbs and lemon juice until finely chopped or mashed.
    2. Whisk egg white until stiff.
    3. Combine gelatine and water in a bowl and stir over boiling water until dissolved or microwave on high for about 20-45 seconds. Cool slightly.
    4. Stir and combine gelatine with yoghurt and salmon mixture. Add cracked pepper, capers, Tabasco or chili sauce if desired.
    5. Fold egg white into the salmon mix. Pour into individual serving dishes. If you are planning to turn these out, then line pots with plastic wrap and optional smoked salmon strips before spooning mixture in.
    6. Refrigerate for several hours until set.


    These recipes are from the following popular sources –

    1. from dairyaustralia.com.au

    2. from family circle December 2005

    3. from www – un-named source

    4. adapted from abc.net.au by Kim Dennison 

    This information is general in nature and does not replace that of your own health professional.