“There’s a compulsive eater sleeping in my bed.”
I said this to my mother a couple of months ago. I had been sick. I caught some kind of flu that also affect my stomach. I did not eat for two days. When I could eat again, I tried saltines and chicken broth. The saltines turned out to be too heavy for my tummy, so I switched to Pringle’s. The Pringle’s did the trick. I could 5 or 6 of them to absorb whatever nastiness was going on in my stomach, and they were not too heavy.
I know Pringle’s are chips, therefore junk food, and therefore not good for you, but they worked and got me though the illness. I had no problem eating them in moderation, 5 or 6 chips at a time, and it was just enough. I have not gone back to Pringle’s since.
Through my illness, I left the saltines sitting on my bed table, where they remained untouched until I was feeling better. Big mistake.
Once I was feeling better, I actually started feeling hungry. I discovered that in the middle of the night I was waking up and stuffing saltines into my mouth without even thinking about it. It was second nature to roll over and reach for the crackers. Most of the time, I barely opened my eyes. I just reached over, grabbed a handful of crackers, and started stuffing them into my mouth one after the other until they were gone. I don’t even remember if I tasted them as they slid down my throat and into my tummy.
I awoke covered in crumbs, an empty cracker sleeve on the bed table, feeling guilty and ashamed.
I don’t keep food near my bed anymore. You would think that after the surgery, with such a small pouch, I wouldn’t be able to eat an entire sleeve of saltines, but apparently I can. It would seem that the conditioning that comes from decades of bad eating behavior trumps new eating restrictions nearly every time.
Now that I can eat more, nearly 1400 calories a day, including protein drinks and snacks, some of my old bad behaviors are trying to make a comeback.
I had a hard time through the holidays. All of the cookies and snacks were really hard for me to deal with. I did OK when I was in Pittsburgh visiting my mom. When I told her that the Christmas cookies were a huge temptation for me, she threw all of the ones she had away so that I would not be tempted.
New Year’s, however, I caved to temptation. I went to visit friends in Delaware, which was a lot of fun. I made my pumpkin brownies, which everyone loved. And I made Chicken Saag, which everyone also loved. My friends made Channa Masala. I had plenty to eat that was good for me and fit my eating plan. What did I do? I ate the good food and then went back and had the occasional cookie or chip. I did not have a lot of food, but I had enough of the junky type food that I did eventually get sick.
One of my friends kept telling me to be careful, but I just knew I would be OK. I did not get sick New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. I got sick on January 2. On my way to work. On the Metro. It was ugly.
I’ve talked in previous posts about dumping syndrome. Sometimes the symptoms hit me right away, sometimes it takes a few hours, sometimes a day. I’ve also described some of the symptoms I’ve suffered, including nausea, headaches, sweating, and instant diarrhea. I don’t get all symptoms each time I get dumping syndrome, but usually, a combo of some of them.
I will not describe all of the details of what happened that day, let’s just say, it was not pretty. The DC metro apparently does not have public restrooms either. All of the stations do have a bathroom, but you have to ask a metro employee if you can use it. Not all of them will allow you, apparently.
I started feeling sick at the Pentagon Metro station. I waited 10 minutes for the train. I only had to go three stops before I would be able to get off the train and find a bathroom. I only made it two. I was in the Rosslyn station begging for a bathroom when I got really sick. I ended up having to leave the station and go across the street to the mall, but by then, it was too late.
The metro employees were not very helpful outside of offering to call an ambulance, which would not have helped at all. A very nice woman noticed that I was not feeling well and offered me some water. I wish I would have had the sense to thank her properly for her kindness at the time, but it was all I could do to get to a bathroom.
After I got myself cleaned up and was feeling better, I walked around the corner to Starbucks and bought a bottle of water. I logged onto my work computer and sent out an email letting everyone know I would be working from home. I waited another 15 minutes to make sure I was well enough to head back out into the world. I then hailed a cab and went home. I did end up having to go into the office later that day, but I drove. I did not want to risk another metro episode.
What this taught me is that while the surgery solved a lot of my overeating problems, it did not solve all of them. The compulsion to eat junk food, for instance. That compulsion is strong. The surgery also did not solve some of my triggers, what causes the compulsion to eat to emerge. I am beginning to notice that I have a tendency to eat when I’m stressed-out, or when I’m upset about something. And the urge to eat at night is beginning to return.
The first year post-surgery, when I lost 127 pounds was the easy part of my weight loss journey. Now that I can eat a little more, and I’m struggling to manage my triggers and compulsive eating. The hard work seems to be just beginning. If I want to lose the additional 46 pounds I have to lose, I really need to assert some control over my eating problems before they ruin all of my hard work and undo all of my weight loss.
I have not had a really great start to the New Year. I guess it can only get better from here, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work on my part. The fight against compulsive eating is apparently going to be a lifetime battle for me, but I know it is one that I really want to win.
It took almost three days for my system to fully recover from the metro incident. My pride, however, suffered a bigger blow than my body did, and my take longer to heal. If allow my compulsive eating patterns to overtake my life again, my pride may never recover again.