Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Solid Promise: Fighting the Good Fight

The day finally arrived this past Sunday - the solid food stage!  Technically it's called "healthy solids," but my first opportunity to eat solid food happened to be at a very nice brunch buffet.  The cardinal rule of this new lifestyle is that I must get my protein in first, then my complex carbohydrates.  But everything was drenched in some kind of sauce or oil or gravy.  Since I wasn't even sure how much I'd be able to eat, I took a little of everything that looked good.  I ended up with a cracker, a cube of cheese, a sausage link, a piece of stuffed fillet of sole, a little Swedish meatball, and a slice of melon.

It's kind of a thing of beauty, no?

When I arrived back at the table, my sister got a worried look on her face.  "Are you going to be able to eat all that?"

I told her, "no, but I couldn't just hack off little pieces of this stuff at the buffet, so I'll see how far I get with this."

I think she was more worried about the richness of the foods, the spiciness of the sausage, et cetera.  Sausage is actually one of those "not recommended" foods on the list. But I didn't know that at the time.  Oops.  I took a little at a time and managed to get through the whole cracker, most of the cheese cube, most of the meatball, half the sausage, two bites of the sole, and a bite of the melon before I was full.  I ordered a decaf coffee and sipped it while everyone else continued to eat their brunches.  When my niece, who was seated next to me, decided she didn't want her bacon (something else I'm not supposed to have now that I look at the list of recommended foods for this stage), I took a small piece and took a little bite.  My sister's face showed obvious trepidation.

"I'm nervous for you," she said.

"It's just a small piece.  If it bothers me, then I'll know not to eat it again," I explained.

See, this stage is about trial and error.  This is unlike the previous stages where everything was liquid or near-liquid and just palatable enough to drink down and forget.  At this stage I'm more likely to get sick to my stomach, more likely to suffer heartburn and reflux, more likely to have reactions to certain foods, because suddenly the world is on my plate.  Well, most of it.  I'm just starting in this stage and there are many foods that are not recommended.  Not verboten, just not recommended - mostly because they are either unhealthy (like butter and donuts) or present texture issues despite being otherwise good for you (like peanut butter, nuts, and lettuce).

And here comes the real issue with this stage. I'm more likely to overeat because I haven't quite shut off that part of my brain that says, "Oooh!  Yummy food!  Eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat!!!!!" I didn't have this problem at brunch on Sunday.  I was full, but not uncomfortably so, and the food I'd chosen was sitting relatively well.  It has been the last two days that I've run into some real problems.  It's like my brain figured out sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning that I'm actually chewing food and automatically wants me to stuff as much down my throat as I can.  Except I can't.

Because I can't have bread ("gummy starches" are highly NOT recommended because of their tendency to, well, to gum up the works) I bought some pita chips.  I figured since I can have crackers, pita chips would be okay too.  Along with the pita chips I bought (of course) hummus.  This has proved to be a BIG problem.  Everything I've eaten since Sunday, while delicious, hasn't set off that trigger, but the two times I've attempted the pita chips and hummus?  Bad.  Bad bad bad bad bad.

The first problem is that they're so fucking delicious, I just want to eat a whole honkin' mess of them.  Even setting a pre-measured amount of five chips and a spoonful of hummus on a plate, I find myself wanting to gobble them down as quick as I can because they're just. so. damn. tasty.  The second problem is that they're salty.  Very, very salty.  And the hummus is spicy.  So it made me crazy thirsty, which made me want to guzzle my drink.  I'm not supposed to drink for 30 minutes on either side of a meal.  Small sips are okay, but because my stomach is so small I can't eat and drink at the same time.  However I was so absolutely parched from the salt, I grabbed my drink and chugged it.  Bad.  So this is the point at which the pita chips and the hummus and the iced tea all began fighting for the limited real estate in there, and it got pretty angry.  Then everything backed up and I was miserable.  After dealing with pain and finally digesting that mess, I got over it and went to bed, only to wake up choking two hours later.

Apparently that pain is like what some mothers claim childbirth is like - you forget easily.  And tonight, once again, I had my little plate of five pita chips.  Only this time for good measure, I had just a tiny scoop of hummus and then switched to cottage cheese thinking it would make a difference - less salty and spicy AND provide a little extra protein.  It didn't really.  I avoided drinking anything with them this time around, but I'm still too full and uncomfortable.  It must be the pita chips.  Maybe they expand when they get into my stomach?  I don't know, but I think I might have to give the rest of the bag to my rats or to the birds outside.  Oh well.  Trial and error.


But I'm worried now.  Maybe that's what drove part of my sister's worry, too.  Remember, my weight struggle comes from being a compulsive overeater and an emotional eater who has historically sought solace and comfort and companionship in food.  There's a control issue involved as well.  It's fundamentally no different than any other type of addict.  The difference, of course, is that food isn't something you can just take away.  There is a saying in Overeaters Anonymous, "when you are addicted to drugs you put the tiger in the cage to recover; when you are addicted to food you put the tiger in the cage, but take it out three times a day for a walk."

Now that my stomach only holds a half-cup of food, I'm supposed to learn better, more responsible and healthier habits.  The surgery is a tool to help me come to grips with the shit that goes on in my head, that little voice that says, "Oh, this feels good!  Do more of it!"  I need to be able to gauge proper amounts of food.  There's still a disconnect between my brain and my stomach; I'm full after two or three bites, but my brain thinks, "that's not a normal amount of food.  Come on!  More!"  It's the same part, I'm guessing, of my brain that for the past two days has said "you can eat aaaanything you want now, you know...." as I've walked past the candy aisle in the store or gazed longingly at the chocolate near the cash register.  

Brain, shut the fuck up.  Seriously.  Just knock it off.  

These battles will go on for the rest of my life.  Brain vs. Stomach.  Me vs. Food.  It's a hell of a war, but I know it's worth fighting.  Now if THAT part of my brain could just get the memo over to the part that wants to eat pita chips and hummus and chocolate...


  1. You can do it!

    My friend had the lap-band surgery and he didn't follow the pre-op or post-op diet and instead decided to just eat as much as he could and throw up the rest. Well now couple of years later he is not losing any more weight and his stomach is back to a big enough size that he can eat a whole fish fry meal without barfing. I don't think he ever got it in his head that this is a mental game and the stomach being made smaller doesn't change one bit of your brain.

    I congratulate you on recognizing that your brain never had surgery, only your stomach did. Anyone who can realize that is a long way to reaching their goals. Keep up the good work! I love reading about your journey.

  2. Wow, thank you! I don't know who you are, but your words are truly appreciated!!!