NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's challenging for most people to eat healthy during the holidays, but it can be even more difficult after weight-loss surgery.
A patient and a dietitian offer helpful guidance for keeping the season fun.
"I've been walking 2 to 3 miles a day. And I do water aerobics in the summer in the pool," says Lorrie Cook of North Philadelphia.
Cook is on the go every day.
In the year since gastric sleeve surgery, Cook's lost more than 100 pounds and gained new energy for her school job.
"It's up and down the steps all day with my kids," she says with a smile, recalling the days when just getting up to walk to the restroom was a chore.
Cook works hard every day on her new approach to food.
"There are a lot of very small portions," she notes, adding, "I do find myself eating a lot of vegetables. Spinach - top of the line. I could really eat a pot of spinach by itself."
But there are rough spots.
"My eating habits, some days, are really in the hole," Lorrie admits.
Still, she's determined not to backslide, even amidst tempting holiday treats.
Registered dietitian Alexis Newman of Temple Health says success takes a fresh mindset.
"Just focusing on what they can have versus what they can't," says Newman, who works full-time with bariatric patients.
"The main focus needs to be protein first, vegetable second, and then carbohydrates last," she emphasizes.
Newman says foods with excess sugars, fat, or carbs can literally make bariatric patients sick in the stomach.
Carbs can also cause blood sugar to spike, and then drop too low.
"Always eat it with another protein or fiber-containing food," says Newman.
She urges her patients to tell family & friends of their new diet BEFORE holiday events. Don't wait till the event itself.
Also, bring a healthy dish everyone can eat.
Don't skip meals to save calories for treats.
Know your limits.
"I get these hiccups. And when that hiccup comes, I know I'm done," says Cook.
And don't deny yourself every treat.
"I'm gonna eat a little bit of it. I'm not going to eat the whole piece," Cook says.
She says staying in touch with the Temple dietitians helps her move forward. Alexis says patients in the support groups often have great coping tips.
For more tips on navigating the holiday, CLICK HERE.