Eating Day-to-Day

My surgeon’s office likes to be very involved with their patients. They do a lot of great outreach things, including pre-op informational seminars and “Transformation Tuesdays”, which is a sharing of stories from their LAP-Band patients on Facebook. All of these activities are opt-in—they are, of course, very careful not to share anyone’s information without express consent. I’ve been to one seminar and I’ve sent blog posts along for Transformation Tuesdays twice. And I’ve asked what good topics to blog about might be, which is why this post was written.

When asked, the Transformation Tuesdays correspondent replied:

I think one of the biggest things that we get a lot is people think they will NEVER be able to eat again. Our goal is for people to eat a variety of items—only learning healthier options.

I was also talking to a perspective patient at the seminar I went to about post-op diets, and he expressed his concern that he would never be able to eat things like steak again. From what he said, I gathered that celebratory steaks are a family tradition for him, so it was understandably important to him that he be able to partake post-op. Steak is one of the foods they list that post-op patients might have difficulty with. Everyone’s body is different, but I thought it might be useful to examine some of my common food choices as a post-op LAP-Band patient. Note that not all of these are one hundred percent balanced, but even over a year later, I’m still working on that. I feel like I’m doing better, but it’s difficult to break the habits of a lifetime.

Breakfast
They encourage LAP-Band patients to eat a lot of protein. To that end, I typically start the day with this meal.

A breakfast idea

Mmm, pigmeats

This meal consists of one egg, scrambled, with ketchup (you’ll find ketchup to be a recurring theme); two ounces of Eckrich skinless smoked sausage; and two ounces of red seedless grapes. This is a goodly amount of food for this particular LAP-Band patient, and it’s all delicious. Together, these foods account for just over 300 calories and around 12 grams of protein.

I won’t lie, I’ve had to adjust to eating this sort of thing for breakfast. I grew up eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast every day, which, apart from not being a food that’s high in protein, also doesn’t take as much effort to prepare. I’ve begun cooking my eggs and sausage ahead of time so that it’s more difficult for me to be lazy and decide to eat something else in the mornings.

I find that the part of me that wants to just eat and eat and keep eating is actually pretty mollified by having a multitude of foods to eat at each meal. Even if I’m only having comparatively small portions, the variety helps to satiate my urge to look for more things to eat.

Lunch
Lunch is usually a bit simpler for me than breakfast. But not as far as flavor is concerned.

A lunch idea

This is what heaven would look like if it were food

This concoction is half a cup of cous cous, two more ounces of sausage (because I apparently really like that stuff), an ounce and a half of extra firm tofu, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Tofu is a wonderful way to add low-calorie, high-protein content to any food. It’s similar enough in texture to the sausage that, when cooked together, I can’t really tell the two apart when I’m eating them. Sautéing them in the same pan causes the tofu to pick up the flavor of the sausage. It also prevents me from having to use any oil or butter to sauté the tofu; the grease from the sausage is sufficient.

Mixing a tablespoon of brown sugar into the couscous/sausage/tofu combination satisfies that savory/sweet craving very nicely. And the entire concoction is overall incredibly satisfying in a lot of ways. It accounts for 420 calories, and an unknown quantity of protein, because I failed to mark that in my notes.

Dinner
For dinner, I usually aim to have a variety of foods on my plate. This particular meal was made for my husband’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, and so it contains some rare indulgences.

A dinner idea

Om nom

Hey look, steak! I haven’t had any difficulty with it post-op. The trick is to make sure you cut it into manageable bites and chew it until it’s no longer recognizable that it was ever a solid food. Sauces help, and my sauce of choice is, as you might have noticed, ketchup.

A bite of steak

This is a “manageable bite” for the size of my individual mouth

This meal is comprised of three ounces of cap top sirloin petite steak (180 calories) with the fat trimmed off, salad (which I never count because it’s salad) with half a tablespoon of low-fat ranch dressing (which is equivalent to a quarter of a serving, or 20 calories), and homemade French fries (which in this case was half a potato fried in olive oil—I’m honestly not sure of the calorie content of it, but I’m certain it’s up there).

All told, these three meals probably accounted for 1200 – 1600 calories for the day. I try to stay under 1500 calories, but birthdays are an allowable exception (within reason).

I have also successfully eaten many foods they recommend you avoid post-op. For example, my usual lunch involves a sandwich. It’s an open-faced half sandwich on toasted bread, but it is on bread. I’ve also eaten both soft and hard tacos, as well as popcorn and birthday cake. Carefully. As with all foods as a post-op LAP-Band patient, I eat slowly and chew my food thoroughly before swallowing. And if something isn’t sitting right with me that day—it might be my sandwich, or it might be my morning eggs, which are a soft food and therefore much less likely to ever cause a problem—I will stop eating it. Or I’ll slow down. Whatever my body is in the mood for at that particular point in time.

So will there be a lot of changes to your diet if you decide to have any for of bariatric surgery? Yes. But I look at it like this:

I was miserable before I had surgery because of my weight. I felt terrible both emotionally and physically. Now I actually like the way that I look, and I feel much better overall. So yes, on the one hand, I could have opted not to have surgery, and continued to enjoy afternoon-long ice cream and chocolate-covered pretzel binges. That would have made part of me happy. The sick part, quite frankly. Now that I’m post-op, I might not be able to demolish half or more of a large pizza all by myself anymore, but I like myself as a person much better. And I consider that a more than worthwhile trade.

Besides, as I’ve said, I can still enjoy those indulgent foods. I just can’t have as much of them as I used to, and frankly, should not have been eating to begin with. On the pre-op side, the potential changes are frightening. But trust me, on the post-op side, they’re worth it.

(For one thing, I’ve discovered just how much I love fruit. The amount of enjoyment I get from fresh fruit is probably illegal in some parts of the world. Holy shit is fresh fruit delicious.)

So if you’re a prospective LAP-Band patient and you’re worried about post-op changes in your diet, I hope this post has helped to illustrate what a post-op diet can actually be like. I know it can be really unnerving to go to a seminar or do research online and hear that, once you have the surgery, you won’t be able to eat this, that, or the other thing anymore. Maybe you won’t, or maybe you will. But either way, at the end of the day, isn’t your own health and comfort level more important than food? (Remember, this is coming from an admitted addict and compulsive over-eater.)

I will finish this rather length entry with this video. There’s some interesting information in here. Give it a watch, and if nothing else, at least try to be mindful. Even general mindfulness is something our culture is pretty bad at.

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