Category Archives: holidays

The Compulsive Eater Sleeping In My Bed

“There’s a compulsive eater sleeping in my bed.”

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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.

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Holiday Foods: Planning vs. Reality

So, a few weeks back, I wrote a post about being prepared for the holidays food-wise.  I thought I was ready to deal with the holiday eating season.  Honestly, for the most part, I have been very disciplined.  I have allowed myself some cheats, but all in all, this has been much harder than I originally thought it would be.

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There are three things that have really put me in jeopardy this Christmas season.  Well, five now that I think about it.  They are as follows:

  • The return of hunger pains – Not with a vengeance, but at meal time and snack time, I do get hungry.  And if I skip any part of my diet plan, I definitely feel it.  So, I have had to learn to manage hunger pains, which I really did not need to worry about for at least 8 months post-op.  Plus, I can eat more now that I could last year.  Those two things combined has made dealing with food this holiday season difficult to say the least.
  • Office party #1 – My work has had two Christmas parties.  The first one was at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in DC.  This was so much fun.  Trays and trays and trays of food everywhere.  And if that wasn’t enough, waiters walked around with more trays passing out more food.  I was very good all day.  Light meals and snacks, sticking to the bariatric food diet plan.  Then the party hit.  I still tried to stay on schedule, protein and veggies only.  I just ate too much, which let’s face it, is probably just a normal sized meal for non-bariatric surgery peeps.  But for me, it is way too much.  I did have a tummy ache and get a little nauseated, but I survived mostly intact, I think.
  • Office party #2 – My department had its own office party.  That was a 2 1/2 hour eating feat I have not really done at all since the surgery.  I had appetizers, fried zucchini shoe strings, cheese, a slice of some kind of meat, and assorted veggies.  Then we sat down to dinner.  Salad.  Not bad. I had a small spoonful.  Then the pasta course started. Two different kinds of pasta.  I had four tiny pieces of pasta.  I really cannot have starchy food, but I wanted a taste.  Now, keep in mind, I was pretty much full after the appetizers.  They served the food slowly, so there was a lot of time between courses, but I am already in forbidden territory and the food just kept coming.  Then they brought out eggplant parm, which I hate, so I did not eat.  Then rosemary chicken and roasted broccoli.  I had about three bites of chicken and 2-4 bites of broccoli and I really just had to stop.  I thought I was going to explode.  Then they brought out dessert.  Tiramisu and chocolate mousse.  I did not even look at the Tiramisu.  I knew if I did it would be all over.  I took my spoon and sliced off the teeniest bite of mousse I could manage and just a spot of whipped cream.  It was just heaven.  I thought I was going to pop.  I had to get up and walk away from the table before I was tempted to try another bite.  My stomach hurt so much, and I was very nauseated.  It stayed in the bathroom for about 10 minutes.  Then when everyone else was done eating dessert, I ordered a cup of coffee hoping the warm liquid would start moving some of the feast through my system.  When I got home, I dutifully logged every bite into My Fitness Pal, chocolate mousse bite and all.  I ate over 500 calories in one meal that took me over 2 hours to eat.  For me, that’s twice what I normally have.
  • Writer’s Group Party – OK, this one was not so bad, but still, a little bad.  This was held at a bar.  I did not actually order any food. I just ate what other people were sharing.  I had three wings, carrots, celery, humus, and some nachos over the course of about an hour and a half.  Not the greatest meal, but not too bad.  Once I was done nibbling, I just drank water for the rest of the night.
  • Office treats and other junk – This has been the hardest for me to deal with.  So many yummy things.  Tons of cookies, truffles, peppermint bark, candy, etc.  I got tired of seeing cookies, so after having one cookie, I was done.  I managed to stay away from the cranberry-orange bread, which was tempting.  But the chocolate truffles just killed me.  Someone sent French truffles filled with caramel.  I love, love, love, love, love caramel filled chocolate.  I decided that I would give in and allow myself one French caramel filled truffle.  I took it back to my desk and took one small bite.  It was heaven.  The caramel just melted in my mouth.  Before I could stop myself or change my mind, I quickly threw the rest of the truffle into the trash.  I knew if I finished it, it would be all over.  I would have to go back and just scarf up the rest of them. My co-worker could not believe I did that.  She was like, “Wow, you have incredible will-power.”  I replied, “No, I do not.  If I didn’t get rid of this now, you might as well check me into French caramel truffle rehab!”  It was tempting to reach into the trash and retrieve the truffle, but my pride just would not let me.

Now I am in Pittsburgh visiting with my mother for the holidays.  She’s kind of a food nazi. All my life, I have hated her fixation on limiting what I eat.  Now all I have to say is, “Thank goodness.”  She does not keep junk in her house.  OK, she keeps popcorn in her house, but I dare not touch her stash.  It has been a relief not to have all those temptations so close at hand.  I need to refocus.  I need to become more disciplined in the New Year if I want to lose the remaining 46 pounds.

I will be glad when the holidays are over, and the pressure is off.  It will be a relief to return to normal eating patterns.  This holiday season has been very tough for me to deal with.  Last year was not as difficult because I could barely eat.  But now that I actually feel hungry and can eat almost 1400 calories per day, (including protein drinks), the temptation to over-indulge has been very stressful.

My next biggest hurdle is New Year’s Eve.  I am spending that time with friends.  I am making chicken saag and my pumpkin brownies for everyone.  And I know that there will be a lot of other foods.  I think I’ll be OK because I will have many good options to choose from.  And my one friend is kind of worried about food herself so I know she will not have a lot of junk on hand.

Wish me luck!

Where The Heck Have I Been?

No, I have not abandoned this blog, although it may seem that way.  I have just been super busy.  Some good things have happened recently, and I just wanted to take a moment to share.

1. Work has suddenly become much more manageable.  I have been through an extremely busy period for the last few months, but with the holidays comes the traditional slow-down.  I have also been permitted to actually hire someone, so when the busy season hits again in January, I won’t be so overwhelmed…hopefully!

2.  I took vacation Thanksgiving week.  I was also very busy that week.  I had a friend visit me, and we spent that time running around visiting family and friends.  I had a blast.  We saw some friends that I haven’t seen since the surgery and a couple of friends who I have not seen since January.

As a funny aside, my friend Marianne’s son told me he did not recognize me with my glasses.  Everyone thought that was funny.  Not that he didn’t recognize me because the last time he saw me I weighed 298 pounds…it was the glasses that threw him off.  I told him it’s because I’m secretly a super-hero and with glasses I’m like Clark Kent.  Did I say he’s 10?

3.  I finally dumped the tea party guy.  Oh I know…I said I was dumping him a month ago.  I tried to.  But we still went out a couple more times.  Then things just got weird.  Not that him being a tea partier wasn’t weird enough.

He stopped calling and said work was crazy busy.  I thought it was pretty much over.  Then the texts and phone calls started again.  “I miss you.” “I need to see you.”  So, we planned a couple more dates, all of which he cancelled, promising to reschedule “soon.”  Finally, I just sent him an email and ended it.  I told him that I want someone who is excited to see me and makes me a priority in his life and I didn’t feel I was getting that from him.

A friend of mine told me that maybe I scared him off by telling him this.  I thought that was a nutty response.  Maybe I did scare him off by telling him that, but if being honest is enough to make him run, then it’s better that he goes.  That’s not the kind of relationship I want.  I want to be able to be honest with someone, and I want them to be honest with me.  Tell me what you want.  I’ll tell you what I want.  We can build from there.  Anything short of that is a lie and won’t work.

Here’s the thing.  When I weighed 300 pounds I didn’t put up with that kind of crap.  Granted, I had fewer options, but I still did not settle for less than what I wanted just to have a guy in my life.  So, when I have more options why on earth would I start to settle for less?

I was disappointed to see it end.  We actually did have a good time when we were together.  We had a lot in common, apart from politics.  He also had the gastric by-pass surgery and had lost a lot of weight.  We had many great conversations.  But, he was never going to be anyone I would be terribly serious about.

4.  I also posted a new recipe.  This is one that I created myself.  I wanted a yummy pumpkin flavored dessert that was not too sugary.  I think I came up with a pretty good option.  Click on this picture to get to the recipe:

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5.  I also “finished” my children’s novel.  I say “finished” because I did get all of the major plot points down on paper, and I have written about 55K words, but it is quite a mess.  I still have a lot more writing ahead of me in the form of re-writes.  I’m not going to look at it until January, however.

That is pretty much it.  I have not lost any more weight.  I have also not gained any weight.  I am not going to weigh myself until after the holidays.  I am watching what I eat, definitely.  I still log my food on myfitnesspal.com.  I have had a few bad days, but overall, I’m sticking to the plan.  I want to get back to the gym now that things have kind of slowed down in my life.  I’m hoping that will kickstart the weight loss again.

I promise to keep up on this blog more often.  I have a lot planned for the holidays, but I will have time to get a few more posts in.  And in January, I will post my weight to let you know how I fared through the crazy holiday feasting season!

An Open Letter to Fat-Shaming ND Woman

Dear Fat-Shaming ND Woman,

I understand your concern about the health of American children and childhood obesity.  I understand that you feel you need to take a stand on a holiday that is all about the candy.  Having struggled with obesity all of my life, I really wish that I had learned and appreciated the benefits of healthy eating and the dangers of fat, sugar, and salt earlier in my life.  I disagree, however, with your fat-shaming tactic.

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Handing out candy to some children, the thinner, and in your estimation, more deserving children while handing out fat-shaming letters to children you alone determine are carrying a bit too much weight, is absolutely disgraceful.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Does it make you feel better about yourself to pick on children you view as moderately obese?   What have they done to earn your ire?  I have to wonder what is wrong with a person who has to make themselves feel superior by picking on children?

I think it would be one thing if you refused to hand out candy to all of the children, but by choosing to hand it out to some and not to others because they are what you view as moderately obese, is wrong.  Are you a medical professional?  Are you a nutritionist?

It is people like you who have gone out of their way to make me feel bad about myself my entire life.  Don’t you think that overweight children feel badly enough about themselves without being singled out by you?

You do not know a particular child’s situation.  Maybe the child you view as obese has another medical problem and candy has nothing to do with it. Maybe they will simply grow out of it.  Maybe that child has recently lost weight and their parents are trying to teach them to be responsible about candy and other treats.  Having the treats around and learning eat them sparingly and in moderation is a good lesson to learn.  Who are you to try to supersede a decision a parent might make about their child?

There are many ways to attack childhood obesity without attacking the child or their family.  I will give you some positive suggestions that can encourage good food behavior instead of attacking children with your divisive fat-shaming letter.

  • Do not hand out candy at all.  Keep your door shut and do not give candy to any kids.
  • Work with a local farmers market to hand out a coupon for a piece of fruit.  You pay for the coupons and hand them out to kids in lieu of candy.
  • Hand out silly, cheap toys instead.  Buy a big bag of plastic spiders or something.
  • Hand out tiny boxes of raisins.
  • Hand out pencils.
  • Hand out erasers in fun shapes.
  • Hand out Playdoh.
  • Hand out glow in the dark sticks – kids love these!
  • Hand out balloons.
  • Hand out fun cards with puzzles or pictures that they can color in.
  • Hand out crayons.

You can do any number of things that does not involve handing out candy laden with sugar and fat, and does not include a fat-shaming letter.  You can then feel secure that you are doing your part to combat childhood obesity by not handing out fattening treats.  You will also have the added benefit of not being viewed as an evil, horrible, judgemental, self-righteous witch that the village now wants to burn at the stake.

Happy Halloween!

Sincerely,

The Skinny Girl Inside.

Surviving The Holiday Eating Season – Plan Ahead!

It’s that time of year again.  The holiday season is quickly bearing down on us.  Halloween. Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  Hanukkah.  New Year’s.  These are the big winter celebrations we all love to eat and/or drink our way through.

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Health Magazine has an article of 50 holiday foods you should not eat.  I don’t think avoiding all holiday food is a good idea.  I mean, yeah, you probably should not eat everything, and any wlser who cannot have sugar should probably avoid the sweet treats anyway, but, it’s the holidays for crying out loud.  What is the point of a celebration if you cannot celebrate?  I think the key to surviving the holidays is to have  a solid plan and stick with it.

For example, I am not a big sweet eater, but the pumpkin everything is really making me kind of crazy this year, especially because I cannot eat it.  I mean, I guess I could if I did not mind getting horribly ill, risking instant diarrhea or vomiting, and laying in bed for an hour or so, but really, would it be worth all of that?  (Once you have had instant diarrhea and had to throw away your underwear in a McDonald’s bathroom while on a road trip, I can tell you the answer to that question is a resounding no.)   Instead, I purchased a can of raw pumpkin that I can turn into some kind of delicious, healthy treat that fits into the wls diet.  I have some ideas I’m kicking around, and if it works, I’ll post the recipe with pictures.

I had my by-pass just before Halloween last year.  I could not even stand to look at candy let alone risk eating it.  Last Thanksgiving, was only one month after my surgery.  I was still eating pureed food.  I did have pureed turkey and sweet potatoes for dinner, but not much else.  By Christmas, I was eating some solid food, but still, not a lot.

This year will be different for me.  I can eat somewhere between 1100-1400 calories per day.  Granted, about 300 calories per day is protein supplements, so actual food intake is more like 900-1100 calories per day.  Still, that is a lot more than 400-800 calories I was eating last year at this time.  Also, my hunger has returned, which means I feel like eating more often than I did last year.  Not as often as I did pre-surgery, but still, it’s there.  And I have introduced quite a few new foods into my diet, which means I can eat a wider variety of foods than I could last year.

All of this could spell potential trouble for the upcoming holiday food season.  And I have to admit that I am a little worried.

So, I have developed a plan to make sure I stay on track this year.  So, here it is:

  • Allow myself some treats – I’m not saying I will go for the pumpkin bread that will make me vomit, but I will come up with some kind of alternative.
  • Make a plan for holiday meals – I did this last year.  I went to my sister-in-law’s parents for Thanksgiving.  I took my blender with me so that I could puree turkey.  I won’t be pureeing my food this year, but I can still plan ahead.  I will carry the protein snacks that I need with me.  I will make sure I only eat the healthy foods, protein, veggies, the way I’m supposed to.  I do not know if I will cook, go out to a restaurant, or visit family for the holidays, but there is no reason the holiday meal cannot be a healthy one that fits into the wls plan.
  • Go to the gym – I have to stay focused on my exercise plan.  The last few months have been difficult with work, but now that things are slowing down, I have to get back on the wagon and exercise!  This will be crucial in maintaining any diet plan through the holidays.
  • Avoid alcohol – I have not had any alcohol since the surgery.  I do miss a nice glass of wine, but I’ll live.  The surgeon’s office told me to avoid alcohol for the first year after surgery.  The nurse in his office thinks it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol altogether forever.  I do not know if I will avoid it forever.  I probably will because my liver was not in fantastic shape before the surgery.  But, for now at least, I am not done losing weight and alcohol, even the occasional nice glass of red wine, is simply empty calories that I cannot afford.
  • Continue to track my food intake and exercise – I use MyFitnessPal.com.  I have the app on my phone.  I log everything.  All of my calories, walking, and exercise.  I can say I eat 1200-1400 calories per day and know that number is pretty close to accurate.  Tracking my food keeps me honest and focused.  For anyone who wants to join me on My Fitness Pal, my name is morgaine84.  I have also found that if I look up the calories for something I want to eat before I eat it, sometimes I decide the calories are not worth it.  Other times, I may adjust my diet so that I can fit it in. But most of the time, I just don’t eat it.

That is my plan.  I may add to it as the holidays get closer.  I encourage anyone who is dieting for the holidays to set a realistic plan and revisit it often to make sure you’re staying on track.  Even people who have had wls need to be prepared.  The surgery is a tool and can help a lot, but it won’t work if we don’t stay focused!

Happy Holiday Eating!