There it is, stretched out before you like an oasis in the desert.  Spread out on that table is probably a good chunk of the reason you needed gastric bypass surgery in the first place.

I myself have waddled away from the table after having multiple helpings of my mom’s bread stuffing.  And my stepfather always knows where to go to get the best Thanksgiving pies – and he usually gets several, even if there aren’t going to be too many people for dinner.  And God bless my dad – he married into an Italian family.  Who  knew there was a pasta course with Thanksgiving dinner?

But now that you’ve had your surgery, Thanksgiving dinner is like a table full of land mines, waiting to take you out.  Stick with a few simple rules, and together, we’ll get you through so you can be up at the crack of dawn to do your Black Friday shopping.

RULE NUMBER ONE – Protein, baby, protein!  And lucky you!  There’s 20 pounds of it sitting right there, center stage.  If you’re cooking, make sure you’re extra careful to keep the turkey moist.  Baste often, cover with foil for the early stages of cooking, and start checking the temperature at the earliest point in your “done” window.  Dry turkey can be a beast to get down into a gastrically altered tummy, and stuck bird will ruin your whole day.

RULE NUMBER TWO – Vegetables are not covered in cheese, bread crumbs, or marshmallows.  And if they are at your table, move to a different table.  For some of you, vegetables are hard to eat, especially raw.  But plan to have something your pouch can tolerate.

Those candied yams might go down nice and easy, but you dumpers will regret it when you’re laying on the bathroom floor, bargaining with God that if he lets you live through that delicious praline topping on the sweet potatoes, you won’t allow a sugar into the house for Christmas.  And even if you don’t dump, should you really be eating a vegetable with a marshmallow topping after gastric bypass surgery?  Probably not.  And believe me, I’ve got so much sugar on top of my sweet potato casserole, it crunches when you dig the serving spoon into it.  If you want something sweet, bake some sweet potatoes, top them with a little cinnamon and some butter (don’t overdo the butter); or have some steamed baby carrots.  Even some sweet baby peas will add a bit of sugar to your holiday meal.

RULE NUMBER THREE – Starches are your mortal enemy.  Voldemort.  The Joker.  Lex Luther.  Ban them from the table, or at least ban them from your end of the table.  Potatoes are a pariah.  Stuffing is a sin.  Casseroles are criminal.

Load your end of the table with a delicious salad.  Throw in some chopped pecans and a handful of dried cranberries so you’ll have the taste and texture of some of the things you think you’re missing.  Make mock mashed potatoes with cauliflower, or if your family has a pasta course, make your course with spaghetti squash.  You can probably eat way more starches than you should, they aren’t of any real nutritional value to you, and you can’t convince me that throwing sausage or oysters into your dressing qualifies it as a protein.  Skip the starches.

THE CARDINAL RULE – I know it’s the cardinal rule because it’s red 😉

Anyway – the cardinal rule of Thanksgiving is to make yourself a sugar free dessert.  It’s just not going to be Thanksgiving if you don’t have something indulgent.  A beautiful low carb pumpkin cheesecake on the table will give you something to really look forward to that you can enjoy relatively guilt free (don’t eat the whole thing, but have a slice!).  Put a fruit salad on the table – you’ll be surprised at how many people will reach for seconds on fresh fruit, or take a smaller piece of pecan pie, and use the fruit as an accompaniment.  And if you finish your piece of cheesecake, the fruit will be there for you to pick at instead of nibbling your way through a second piece of dessert.

Keep in mind the real meaning of Thanksgiving.  It’s not a holiday meant to celebrate food.  Thanksgiving is a holiday to cherish the meaning of family, friends, and the wonderful blessings you’ve been given.  It’s nice to gather around a bountiful table, but spend at least a little time, when the table is clear, to appreciate the REAL things you have to be thankful for – wonderful family, good friends, and a thinner, healthier you!

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