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Tips for Bariatric Patients Traveling This Summer

Woman on vacation looking out onto ocean with open arms

You’ve probably seen the throngs of people flocking to far-flung destinations and getting their full complement of Instagram-worthy pictures. Travel within the US and worldwide is at levels we haven’t seen before. You may even be one of those people planning or even going to an exciting destination. If you’ve had bariatric surgery and lost a significant amount of weight, your trip may come with particular excitement, especially if you don’t have to worry about many things that once made travel upsetting, like the size of the airplane seat or getting the seatbelt extender.

However, any travel comes with some trepidation since one of the enjoyments many of us derive from new and exotic places is trying the food. In certain places, the food might be the focal point of the trip. But what does that mean for a bariatric patient on a limited diet? Well, it’s not as bad as you may think. Still, for the sake of this article, we need to assume that you are at least a year out of surgery, meaning you are currently in the long-term maintenance phase of your diet – you may still be losing weight each month, but not so early that, we risk complications from eating the wrong foods.

Diet and Exercise

First and foremost, seeing a new place, food-centric or not, comes with lots of unique and exciting sightseeing. Try to double up by walking rather than always taking public transportation or cabs. By walking most places, you will likely get tens of thousands of steps to help you burn off some of the calories you eat while also getting your requisite exercise.

Does this mean that you can eat huge meals three times a day? The short answer is no, and even if you didn’t have bariatric surgery, you shouldn’t be overindulging like that anyway. While there are several reasons why you shouldn’t overeat at any single meal, even if you have been highly active, the main one is that your stomach can’t handle it. You will feel miserable.

Instead, take advantage of your new eating habits. You are likely eating several small meals throughout the day rather than three large meals. This can be particularly good in a food-centric town. After all, what’s better than eating three meals a day? Eating five! The difference is that with some self-control and moderation, each of those five meals can be smaller and fit nicely into your overall diet plan.

What About the Bad Stuff?

The beauty of most food-centric countries outside the US is that their foods typically contain natural ingredients and are generally low in sugar. That said, it’s always important to investigate the components of the foods you are eating and make good choices just like he would at home. Whether you are on vacation for a few days or even a week, making these commonsense choices, and keeping an eye on the calories and composition of the food you eat, will usually yield surprisingly little weight gain, if any. If you’re diligent, you can continue your weight loss while on vacation and all the while enjoying the local food.

What if I Overindulge?

Fortunately, your stomach and your body are adaptable, so if you have a bad day and overindulge, don’t beat yourself up over it, and certainly don’t worry to the point where you can’t enjoy your vacation. Remember that while you may feel ill or have significant discomfort after a bad eating day, you are very unlikely to have done any real damage to your stomach. Your stomach stretches after a big meal, but as the food passes from the stomach into the small intestine, your stomach will shrink back to normal size. If you are consistently overeating, that is a more significant issue that must be discussed with your bariatric surgeon, but at that point, you are risking some permanent stretching.

Just Enjoy

One of the biggest diet busters is stress, and if you are constantly worried about whether you have overeaten and if you have blown your diet, you will not be able to enjoy your trip. All that worry may make you eat even more. Instead, make common sense choices, and don’t beat yourself up. If you get it wrong one day, bounce back as soon as possible, and have a great trip!

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment and discussing your great vacation and fantastic results.