Changing the Relationship

By definition, to eat “is to put food into the mouth and chew and swallow it.”

Hmm, really?

I thought it meant that I tamed the beast who was growling from the depths of my stomach and in my head telling me I was hungry and to feed it NOW!

No, that’s not it?

You could have fooled me, it sure made me feel better and it tamed that horrific beast. I, like many of you, have correlated food and eating to my body’s autonomic response and my emotional state. Is that wrong or innate? I’m not too sure, but I do know that it can result in some pretty unhealthy habits that become very difficult to master and create healthier habits later on. The relationships we develop with food is like many we develop over our lifetime. They serve a purpose for a reason and/or a season. It’s important to remember that over time all relationships can evolve if we are willing to dig deep and do the hard work.

Eating food and the relationship we have with it can dictate our lives to the point that we choose partners, spouses, friends and events that fit our personal food preferences. Really think about how eating and food effects your life. Write it down; it’s for you to figure out. Because the reality is, if we are to be 100% honest with ourselves, we will realize we’ve done this to our bodies on our own. I understand that I am getting a little deep here, and it may be painful. But, if you are willing to undergo MAJOR surgery to correct a patterned habit, you must consider all the reasons regarding why you got here and how to design your journey to success so that you do not arrive here ever again.

It starts with your pre-op journey, point A. By now you have either contacted your ideal bariatric weight loss team or you are considering it. If you are considering it, TAKE THAT LEAP!!! Make that call, do it for you, your future self and commit to a pre-op meeting. Most of the time the meetings are free if you are exploring your medical intervention weight loss options. I have participated in four separate informational meetings in multiple states (Washington, Oregon, and Arizona) due to changing insurance providers, personal preference based off of research, and even entering a contest at one time. There is something so empowering about taking that first step, knowing it cost you nothing but a few hours and seeing other people who are experiencing a similar journey to your own.

At these meetings they discuss the history of their surgical group, the history of obesity in our country, the science behind weight gain/weight loss, what the restrictions and meal plans will look life pre/post operatively…. then followed by their spokesperson who has utilized their particular service or program. Typically, people seem most drawn to the restrictions. I think it’s because eating food is one of our most prized relationships and the fear that surrounds the loss of that relationship is a real struggle for most. In total transparency, I was not as much worried or fearful of my food restrictions as I understood they would be temporary (six months to a year). But financially speaking, this girl was going to save $200 a month by kicking my unhealthy relationship to the curb and cutting my food budget in half! [Side note: one of my biggest stressors is finances. As a single person with expensive taste and an ungodly amount of student loan debt, money talked and if I could save $200 a month and allot that somewhere else to pay down my debt, I’d commit to just about anything!]

Back to the meeting and the food restrictions. Pre-operatively speaking, almost every bariatric surgical team designs their own specific program. The pre-op food plan is designed to continue losing weight to reduce the size of your liver, train your brain to the new relationship you will have with eating food and develop new habits. Failure on your part to do any combination of these objectives can delay your surgery or even cancel it. Don’t take that risk – it’s not worth it! With that being said, by no means are these suggestions exhaustive nor am I a professional of any kind with regard to nutrition. ALWAYS consult your physician/surgical team and follow their program to a T!

Depending on your bariatric teams approach about 8 weeks prior to surgery the pre-op diet could include the following elements:

  • Protein shakes or meal replacement shakes will be the diet’s primary component.
  • Only sugar-free beverages are allowed (sugar substitutes are okay). THIS WAS NOT ALLOWED by my bariatric team!
  • No caffeinated or carbonated beverages are permitted. Plain black decaffeinated coffee was allowed under my program. But, being a coffee addict, I quit cold turkey. FYI, that SUCKED!
  • Soup broth with no solid pieces of food may be consumed. The low sodium version was my preference.
  • V8 and vegetable juice are acceptable. I was very careful to avoid fruit based V8 blends because of sugar!
  • Extremely thin cream of wheat or cream of rice may also be eaten. I did not eat this either.
  • One or two daily servings of lean meat and/or vegetables might be okay, but only if they are approved by your surgeon or registered dietician.
  • All beverages and liquids should be sipped very slowly without a straw. Beverages should not be consumed with meals, and you should wait at least 30 minutes before and after a meal before consuming any type of liquid. This will be very important post-operatively so your new stomach does not stretch.

Hey, I am here for you. I know many of you are not single or living alone. Many of us have family members who live with and depend upon us to make their meals too. Have a family conversation prior to you committing to any part of your bariatric weight loss program. Support is crucial, and you will rely on people and you will even remove people who are barriers to your success. I personally feel that if we are honest with ourselves, communicate with people in our lives, over time we find the right path to success. Remember, you’re not only investing your resources but they are investing in you too. Do your part to be a successful patient.

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