Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blending Up Something Delicious . . .

It was just about a year ago today that I looked at Joy, sullen, and declared to her that if I had to drink one more Carnation, No Sugar Added, Instant Breakfast - I was going to die. Likely from suspicious causes that involved a rope, a thick knot and a rafter in the garage.

NOT that the Carnation Instant Breakfast is not delicious (it is - I still drink one every now and again to remind myself of how far my iddy-biddy pouch has come in the last year) but it just gets soooooooooooo boring after three or four straight days of sipping the cursed stuff . . . forget WEEKS of it.

Anywho, I was thinking about my early post-surgery eating "habits" and some very nice e-mails from Jen and Jess (two recent GBers from Danbury Hospital) asking me to share my early eating experiences prompted me to revisit my old food logs and to try to share some surgery experiences I had long before this blog became my outlet.

First, let me be honest, while it seems like a LIFETIME ago that I was on a liquid-and-puree-only diet (I don't miss it), I remember it being a very important stage/phase for me post surgery. I also had the rare treat of having a baby at the time of my surgery who had one tooth and a very small appetite so I didn't so much feel "alone" in drinking all my meals and/or wondering how they got a solid food to be so gross in liquid form. Yet, I digress.

The point . . . as I've said many times in the past - if we were GOOD about eating, we would have never gotten to the weight we were at to need the surgery so a medical team telling us to put down the fork, paper drive-thru bag and ice cream sandwich for a few weeks is probably necessary and, like with Ava, we all have to LEARN to eat (again) with our new hardware (teeth for her, pouch for me). That being said, I thought an ABC-inspired primer about eating after surgery would be entertaining. Let's see how that plays out . . .

A - ALWAYS get your protein and fluids. 30, then 45, then 60 grams of protein. Ramp it up. Make it a priority. Make it happen. You can get protein from a ton of sources following surgery but I suggest ordering a variety pack of protein shakes/suppliments (I love for ordering stuff and I miss trips to Choose2Lose for shopping in person) and trying them all out. Some will tickle your fancy, others will taste like they were actually taken from a septic tank BUT having a variety of tastes and protein concentrations (there is one that comes in a test-tube that has like 6,000,000 grams of power and actually tastes pretty good) is a good thing. IF you are prepping for surgery, order one now (or if you know someone who's about to have it - they variety kits make great gifts (I'm not kidding) and if you've just had surgery, get online and order one up.

B - BE DELICATE with your consumption. Just taste stuff. A little here. A little there. Don't sit down and say "okay, I'm going to drink four ounces of this right now and not worry about f0od for a few hours." INSTEAD - think, okay, if I have to get 60 grams of protein today and I'm going to be sleeping for eight hours tonight, that leaves 16 hours to get my protein . . . about four grams an hour. If you don't try to put pressure on yourself, you will have a better shot at getting through the shake/puree phase.

C - CREATIVITY is not all that it is cracked up to be. Let's just cut to the chase. Mary Lou (God love her) will tell you that you can throw a steak in the blender and drink it up. She'll tell you that you can blend together a chicken breast, a tomato and some low-fat mayo for a delicious treat. She'll tell you to check out baby food for delicious, pre-pureed fun. She's not lying. You CAN do all that stuff but you don't want to. TRUST me on this. Just get three or four things that you can eat and that you want to eat. You have the rest of your life to be brave and have fun with foods again. Now is not the time. You have to focus. I suggest protein shakes, fat-free milk, low-fat mozerella cheese sticks (not the deep-fried kind (to be clear)) and Stew Leonar's Chicken Chili. Sound boring? Yep. It was. And I loved it.

D - DECIDE that you are in charge now. You've struggled with food for your whole life (likely) and now you have had this surgery. Struggle no longer, my brothers and sisters. If you don't want to throw Chinese food in the blender (and why WOULD you), don't. If you want to not eat bread even though you CAN eat it now, don't. I, for the record, went six months without a single bite of actual BREAD following my surgery (low fat Triscuits, whole-wheat wraps and no-sugar-added Thomas, multi-grain English Muffins (1/2 of one muffin a day) are not actually "bread." If you want to take advantage of this new life to eat Sushi or switch to tofu as new forms of getting your nutrtiotion, go for it.

E - EAT for you. Let your family work around it. It is sooooooo much fun to be the circus-freak following surgery. "Can you eat THIS?," they ask. "Are you full yet?," they inquire. "What does it feel like?," they wonder. "What's for dinner?," they whine. Let's be blunt again. Your family and friends - for all the love they have for you - have not ever really, as a whole, been good for your diet. If you are the "provider" in your house (I do almost all of the grocery shopping and cooking in our home, for in stance) than you should just sit your family down NOW and tell them that they are on their own for food for a while. They can drink a protein shake or eat a pureed chicken breast or they can just mind their business and take over cooking duties until you are ready to be around food again. I remember in one of my support group meetings last spring there was a woman who had lap-band surgery and she was eating some CRAP because her family liked it and she needed to still cook for them and their tastes . . . what the hell sort of logic is THAT? Make them come to YOU or make them make their own dinner. NOW - in our house - I will make variations on the same dish for Joy and I. Last night, for instance, Joy had a chicken sandwich with two slices of cheese, some lettuce and some sauce on a wheat bun. I had chicken with one slice of cheese and mustard on a wrap. We had very different plates with the same basic meal. For now though . . . take care of you. They won't starve to death while you try to establish good eating habits for the rest of your life.

F - FORGET about "just a taste." Don't rush yourself through the stages of eating. Only your medical pros can tell you if you are ready for the next step and for the next food challenges. More over, don't think that if you just have a "bite" of something that you know you should not have that you aren't playing with fire. We go to Red Robin every now and again with the Terry family. We go to Sonic for lunch when we're running errands. Ava loves gummy worms. I'm not even sampling the goods because, frankly, I don't like to screw around with food anymore. I waited to advance the stages (I still remember that first BITE of food after my surgery) and I am glad I did. 53 weeks later - I try to avoid any and all temptation and or indulgence. It's not worth it. Sugar free pudding with reduced sugar Cool Whip is my vice now. 85 calories. As close to the fire as I'm willing to get.

G - GIVE yourself a chance. It is HARD to go back to eating. It sucks, frankly. Nothing really tastes good. Your pouch feels tight with every bite. You feel like you are under these very tight controls on what you can eat and what you HAVE to eat. You feel like everyone is watching you. Just relax. Take it one day and one bite at a time. I would take FIVE or SIX different things to eat with me to work every day my first month or so back from surgery. Some hummus. Some cheese. Some turkey. Some reduced fat Triscuits. Some yogurt. Some milke. I would pick at the stuff throughout the day (mindful of calories and protein) and I wouldn't ever think twice about taking a morning with no food or nibbling for an hour straight in the afternoon.

H - HAVE fun. I never used to like red meat. Ground beef. That was it. I eat steak now. I LOVE steak. I eat Lamb (fatty little bastard meat that it is). I eat pork now. I ate Sushi . . . twice. It is a whole new chance for me to reconnect with food. I always used to like to cook . . . now I LOVE it. I made a six-course dinner for Joy, Ava, my parents and Joy's parents on Christmas day. I could eat next to none of it. It felt WONDERFUL to see them ohing and ahing over the courses and the tastes and to know that I did that for them while taking care of me. It was FUN to cook and FUN to sit at the table with smaller, altered versions of what they were eating. FUN. FUN. FUN. FUN!

Anywho, that is enough of this for now. I have NO idea what I would use for the letter I so I'll bail out. Tomorrow I'll share some of the foods that I really did enjoy after surgery and some tricks I learned on how to prepare stuff and have it be delicious and "unique" while it was still the same old stuff on a different day.

Hope I've helped a little with my ABCs and I hope the advice is helpful to those, like Jen and Jess, who are just starting out!


♥ Trisha ♥ said...

I've read your blog for sometime... it's very inspiring.

I'm on my 3rd year post surgery, I remember coming off the liquid phase and going to the puree phase and thinking... pureed cheeseburger? You gotta be kidding me! But the recipe that I had was healthy and delicious.

For me, you inspire me to 'hop back on what I'm supposed to be doing' For that. Thank you.

Sean C. Amore said...

Hey, Trisha. THANKS for reading and for taking the time to comment. I'm not going to lie . . . I'm a weeee curious about this blended cheeseburger recipe you have. Would you share it with me? Also, I would be curious if you wanted to write something about your three years of experience for me to share with the world. Let me know . . . CONGRATS on three years and for getting back on the "what I'm supposed to be doing" wagon. Glad I could help (smile).