Navigating my food traditions

This past week I vacationed at my family’s favorite beach destination, Hilton Head Island. I personally had taken a 10 year hiatus from the island choosing to explore other beaches. As I planned this trip, my mind was full of traditions my family had set over the past 35 years.  The majority of these traditions were related to food and dining.

This past week was my sixth post-WLS week with me transitioning to a normal bariatric diet. This change in diet was further complicated by my family food traditions that were not heart or bariatric friendly. Food was taking center stage as I plotted a survival strategy for the week.

I had to plan on being vigilant on eating properly while enduring memories of restaurants and local specialties of years gone by that did not fit my current dietary needs and restrictions.  Vacations are particularly trying for me diet-wise. My normal home routine is turned upside down with dining out frequently, exposure to peer pressure, and temptations on the menu and on the shelves.

Luckily I had developed a pretty good vacation eating strategy over my five years of living with my Lapband. In the short time I have lived with my RNY surgery, I have seen enough differences to warrant my concern. Most significantly is the fact that I have become very intolerant of sugar.

The good news is that the week went quite well. I ate pretty healthy while enjoying many of the restaurants and food that brought back the good memories of family vacations of years gone by. I did learn some interesting lessons from this vacation.

  1. hhi3Food traditions are something not to fear. I was able to eat at my favorite island restaurants and enjoy many of the local specialties. I used my knowledge of food and nutrition to order appropriate menu items that were delicious and healthy. Often I only had to alter the quantity of the food to a smaller portion.
  2. It’s OK to say goodbye to a food tradition. There were definitely no-no’s on my vacation favorites (pralines in Savannah). I disciplined myself to avoid them. I realized that changing these vacation traditions was no different than changing my diet at home to avoid those bad-for-my-health foods.
  3.  It’s OK to set a new food tradition. There is a whole world of food choices out there. I found myself ordering menu items I had never considered ordering before that fit my diet and were just as memorable.
  4. I focused more on traditions that were not food related. This past week I found myself running at sunrise on the beach and cycling miles along the waves. These have become traditions I will cherish and return to in the years to come.

We are entering the time of year when food traditions are especially prevalent. Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions are heavily based on the food our mothers and grandmothers placed on the holiday table. As with my vacation food traditions, I am approaching the meals, parties and social gatherings knowing that some traditions can stay, others need to go while some just need a little tweaking.

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