This photo shows appropriate serving size, from top clockwise: 1/2 tangerine; 1 tablespoon Crasins, 1 hard-cooked egg, 12 pecan halves (1 ounce); 21 almonds (1 ounce) and center, 1 ounce mixed nuts.
For my first two holiday seasons post-op I was extremely compliant with what I ate - no snacking, protein first, lots of water. You know the drill - I was a stellar WLS patient.
The third year, I was feeling comfortable in my new body, confident with maintenance and a bit careless. Add to that scientific news promoting the health benefits of nuts and I found myself dipping a hand into the nut bowl frequently. I work in an office where this season brings a plethora of goodies: chocolates, cookies, cakes and nuts. The light dawned on me that nuts were a healthy holiday staple I could enjoy and feel good about feeding my body.
Imagine my surprise at the end of the holiday season when the scale bore the ugly truth - I had gained 7 pounds! Seven pounds in one month! Impossible!
Here is the nutty truth about the holiday nuts:
On average, one ounce of roasted mixed nuts contains 175 calories and 14 grams of fat, 5 grams protein and 8 grams carbohydrate. That's one ounce. On average one ounce of mixed nuts is 16-20 nuts. For WLS patients who tolerate nuts (and many do not) one ounce is not enough to fill the pouch. Furthermore, we all know that one taste of something salty leads to yet another taste and another taste. My holiday consumption of nuts became an ugly cycle: nibbles of nuts followed by sips of water to quench the thirst followed by more nibbles of nuts.
So we must ask ourselves, are nuts a healthy option for holiday noshing? It is well known that almonds contain the same monounsaturated fat as olive oil, which is associated with, reduced risk of heart disease. In addition, the flavonoids in almond skin work as a powerful antioxidant. Almonds are best consumed raw and unblanched (with skins). It is unlike that kind of almond will be found on the holiday nut platter.
If nuts are served raw without roasting (dry or oil) and without high-sodium seasoning they can be a healthy holiday snack when eaten in small portions (1 ounce). For the WLS patient extreme caution must be used to chew nuts completely to avoid a stomach blockage. In addition, there are probably lower fat, higher protein choices available to enjoy and help us stay on track with our weight goals during holiday season.