Tag Archives: eating

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!

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Way Too Easy…Effortless Even

I started the weekend off great.  I hit the gym early on Saturday.  Well, early as in noonish.  I walked the 1.7 miles to the gym and worked out for an hour and a half.  I then I walked to my friend’s art studio, which is ten minutes from the gym.  Another friend of ours showed up there, and the three of us walked the 1.4 miles back to my neighborhood.  We sat outside of Caribou Coffee for hours drinking fruffy coffee drinks and talked.  It was great.  Then I walked back up the monster hill to my place.

Yesterday started off great too.  I woke up and had a light breakfast and met my brother and niece in DC to do the Saturday am museum tour.  We walked around for about 2.5 hours.  I had my water and a protein snack, 1/3 cup of pistachios, while they ate at McDonald’s.

I went home and packed up some food to take to my sister’s house for a picnic.  She called me in a panic at one point asking me to give her instructions for making a particular chicken dish that I’ve made for her in the past.  She loves it and wanted to make it for the picnic.  I told her to hold off and I would make it when I arrived.

Cooking is easy for me, effortless in fact.  It almost seems to come naturally to me.  I walked into my sister’s kitchen and just took over.  I cleaned and dried the chicken breasts and began chopping them up while I gave my sister orders.  Before I knew it, the chicken was in the oven and I was reaching into my bag to begin prepping my next project.  I sliced and marinated zucchini while chatting it up with one of my sister’s friends without even thinking about it.  I handed the plate to my sister and ordered her to take it down to whichever male family member was manning the grill with specific cooking instructions.

I continued talking to a couple of people and reached into my bag and pulled out a couple of avocados and some spicy salsa.  As I cut the avocados in half, her friend said, “Now what are you making??”

“Guacamole,” I replied as I continued to cook without stopping.  I mixed the salsa and avocado together with a touch of olive oil and ordered someone take it down to the chip table.  Then I reached in my bag again and pulled out a can of Trader Joe’s Chili, grabbed a pot and began heating it up.  “For chili dogs,” I announced before another question could be asked.

That’s where my good behavior ended.

You know what else I can do effortlessly without even thinking about it?  Eat.

I chowed down as if I hadn’t eaten in months.  I ate a handful of corn chips with my yummy guacamole.  I ate random vegetables, potato salad, coleslaw, a little bit of the chicken dish, random other foods I cannot even remember.  Then I topped it off with a bunless hotdog with chili, relish, ketchup, and mustard.  Oh and let’s not for get the handfuls of M&Ms I tried hiding in my pockets thinking no one could see me eat them if I put them there.

WTF?

Obviously, I cannot be trusted at a food party.  I seriously thought I was going to throw up.  Granted, I didn’t eat it all at once, but I did go back to the food table over and over throughout the day.

After I got home last night, I took a walk through my neighborhood trying to walk some of the binge off.  I stopped at Caribou and drank some decaf tea hoping to push some of that food through my system with a warm drink.

Obviously, going to the gym is on the agenda today, as well as feeling horribly guilty about what I did to myself yesterday.  Yeah, I know there is no reason to really feel guilty.  Everyone falls off of the wagon sometimes.  What I should concentrate on is how I recover from this episode and move on.  I don’t know why I’m continually surprised every time I fall, but I am.  I am also very disappointed in myself.

I clearly need to watch my behavior more closely.  I had a somewhat prophetic conversation with my friend Sush on Saturday.  We were talking about yoga.  I kind of don’t like the yoga classes at the gym because of all of the movement.  The last time I took yoga classes, we concentrated on sitting in the positions and gently stretching, connecting mind and body.  The classes at the gym are more like yoga-exercise than a meditative stretching practice.

Sush agrees with my dislike for those kinds of yoga classes.  She grew up in India and they took yoga classes in school first thing in the morning.  What a fantastic way to start the day.

We talked a bit about “triangle pose” and she was talking about the importance of looking at your hands.  She said that yoga poses concentrate on looking at your hands because you mind should always know what your hands are doing.

I never thought of that before.  That made me think back to the endless number of times in my life where I just ate and ate without thinking.  The number of times I bought a giant bag of chips and ate through the whole thing and barely had any memory of how I ate that much.  If my mind had really been aware of what my hands, (and mouth quite frankly), were doing, would I have mindlessly eaten the whole bag?  Would I have slowed down?

I don’t know.  Maybe not.  All I know is that my mind was not paying attention to my hands yesterday.  Not while I was cooking, and especially not while I was eating.

I did manage to track all of the food.  I went home and made myself remember everything that I ate and logged it in “My Fitness Pal.”  Even with all of the eating I did, I still managed to stay below my allotted calories for the day. Not that I feel any better about what I did, but I guess that’s something.

Moving forward I am going to have to make sure that I stop and think before I eat.  Pay attention to what my hands are doing and be more mindful of what not just what I eat, but how I eat.  Maybe, eventually, I will be able to understand why.

Eating On The Road Post Bariatric Surgery

This week has really been a struggle for me while I was in Texas for training.  Nothing wrong with Texas, mind you, but apparently with my lack of planning. I thought I had planned out my protein/food/vitamin regime pretty well.  I was wrong.

I also failed to take into account how eating out for every meal would affect me.  I have eaten out several times since the surgery, but generally, I cook or have many options that fit well into my new diet. The ginormous buffet breakfast offered by the hotel was more difficult for me to deal with than I thought it would be.  They had so many bad food options and very little good food options.  The buffet was laden with bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, freshly made omelets, muffins, rolls, bread, cereals, etc as far as the eye could see.  No hard-boiled eggs.  No fat-free, plain Greek yogurt.  They did have lots of fruit, though.

I did the buffet the first day and made a bad choice.  Bacon. That’s all I’m saying. The last two days, I opted for oatmeal and fruit.  The only problem with that option is that there was no protein.  If they would have offered a plain Greek yogurt option, that would have been golden.  They did not.  I think I am going to send them a message and make a suggestion.  The hotel seemed open to recommendations, so that’s what I’ll do.

My first night there, I had wings.  Probably the best wings I’ve had in years.  I did limit myself to 5 wings and ate the carrots and celery.  That was too terribly bad.  The second night, our sales rep took a group of us out to dinner.  I ended up having steak medallions encrusted with artichokes and roasted vegetables.  I think I wrote about this earlier this week, but I really cannot remember.  Still, the steak sat heavy on my tummy.

I ran out of protein bars and bought some at the hotel.  They made me sick.  They said they had zero grams of sugar, but after a more careful reading, I noticed that it actually had 16 grams of sugar alcohol.  The worst part is, I got sick during my training class and nobody understood what was wrong.  I experienced dumping syndrome.  It really sucks.

So, I have been without protein bars and have had to find other ways to get my protein.  I ended up eating cheese or tuna salad.  The cheese was fine, even though it was a big calorie hit.  The tuna salad made me nauseous.  The tuna was fine, but the mayo may have been too fatty or something.  I have had that reaction from tuna salad in the past.

Last night I went out to dinner with a friend and we went to a Mexican restaurant.  Everyone says you have to do Tex-Mex at least once while you’re in Texas.  I agree.  I’ve had Tex-Mex in Dallas before and it is really good.  Well, I had refried beans, one taco, guacamole, and some corn chips.  I had the worst stomach ache after I got back to the hotel.  The chips may have been a bit much.

I do not eat chips anymore.  I did have a couple of corn chips one time since the surgery when I had some chili, so I thought I was good to have some more.  I guess not.  Live and learn.  I do not eat potato chips, junk food, pretzels, Doritos, cheesy-poofs, etc any more, but a good corn chip is tough for me to pass up.  I guess I’m going to have to do just that in the future though.

I was pretty good with lunch all three days.  I had small salads with balsamic vinegar dressing every day.  I had one small chef salad and two small apple, walnut, blue cheese salads over the course of three days.  So, not too bad there. Fortunately, the hotel had an exercise room and I did use it.  I rode the stationary bike every day while I was there.  I had to work off all those bad food choices.  I felt really good after I exercised too.  It really helped.

I am determined to join a gym when I get back home.  There is one very close to where I live.  It is time.  I have lost enough weight that I can breathe and I’m not in so much pain.  Time to rebuild my muscles and tone some of this up. The best part of the trip was the bed.  I love pillows.  I keep like 5 on my bed at home.  I can never have too many.  Someone must have warned the hotel because check this out!

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Best part of the trip, let me tell you!

Well, I am on my way back home now.  I sure will be happy to get back on my normal food schedule/plan.  I cannot take too many messed up weeks like this.  I learned a lot about what to do next time though.

Here are some thing I plan on trying:

  • Get hotel room with refrigerator and an exercise room.
  • Bring protein powder.
  • Buy non-fat Greek yogurt to put in refrigerator.
  • Make better food choices when eating out; stick to salads, chicken, vegetarian options when possible.

Taking those steps will certainly go a long way to making eating while traveling much better.

Eating On The Road

Eating when away on a business trip is crazy.  It has been years since I have had to do this.  I had forgotten just what a difficult experience it could be for someone who is trying to eat healthier.

First, I stressed out about the flight and airport/airline food and water, not to mention my potential lack of protein/vitamin supplements. That actually ended up being OK.  I was able to take vitamins and protein bars through security and onto the plane.  I also had a few supplemental protein bars and my standard vitamin supply packed in my checked bag for my stay in Dallas.  I was able to get a bottle of water and lunch just near my gate.  I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare so that I could have lunch before my flight boarded.

As an aside, I just have to insert here what a joy it was to fit in the airline seat like a normal person and not need a buckle extender.  I was even able to cross my legs.  Of course, I’m 5’1″ and I have short lets, so I’m sure that helped.  I also managed to scam a seat in the third row of coach due to my upgraded “gold” status.  I have to somehow manage to get that every year because it made the whole airline experience much more pleasant.

Once I arrived at the hotel, the whole diet thing fell apart.  I got some chicken wings at the hotel restaurant.  They were the best wings I have had in a very long times, and I’ve had wings a couple of times since the surgery.  They give you ten of them, I could only eat 4 1/2 with the celery and carrots.  And the sauce that came on the side was phenomenal.  I ordered the sweet and spicy Thai wings, but I think they just brought me the regular buffalo, which was fine by me because they was scrumptious.

Then there was the breakfast buffet.  I did OK at first, I had a tiny bit of scrambled eggs with some spicy salsa on them and mixed fruit.  Then I had two pieces of bacon.  OMG!  What was I thinking!  Well, I came to my senses by lunch and got a small salad with cranberries, blue cheese, and chicken.  Then a side of cheese for my protein snack in the afternoon.

The sales rep took us out to dinner to this very nice Italian restaurant.  Of course I cannot have pasta, so I ordered the artichoke encrusted steak medallions with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.  I can’t have the mashed potatoes either.  I mean, I guess I could have a little bit of them now, but because they are starchy, they have been on the restricted list.  I ate most of the vegetables and one of the steak medallions.  They were 1 1/2 or maybe 2 inches around, but man they just seemed huge to me.  Then the server packed them up for me to take back to the hotel, but really, I’m not sure what I am going to do with them.  (yes, I have a refrigerator in the room)  I’m not sure I want to have red meat two days in a row.  That might be a bit much.  Plus, I’m going out to dinner tomorrow with a writer’s group friend who recently moved back to Texas for some Tex-Mex food.

Don’t even get me started on all of the decaf cappuccinos I’ve had today.  Well, OK one of them had caffeine!

I had to hit the exercise room after dinner tonight.  I rode the bike for 30 minutes and did another 5 minutes of cool down.

I am just not used to eating out this much.  OK, maybe once or twice a week I will got to the buffet place near my office for lunch.  But still, I usually get salmon and vegetables or the chicken with broccoli.  I stick to the plan, though.  Low fat foods.  Protein and veggies.  After my emotional binge eating last week, I have been very strict with myself about the food I eat.  The last thing I want to do after everything I have been through since October is go back to where I was before the surgery.

I have to do better tomorrow.  I sure will be glad to go home!

Food Addicts R US

Normally, I am not a fan of the show Morning Joe.  I think he’s kind of a jerk and I’m not a fan.  I do watch it some mornings as I get ready for work because there is rarely anything else on that is any good.  I like some of the people he has on his show and I am starting to really like Mika Brzezinski.

This week, however, I am totally glued to MJ as Mika has just come out with a new book:  Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction – And My Own.

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Mika co-wrote this book with a friend of hers.  I have not read the book yet, but I am putting it on my wish-list!  She and her friend have been discussing very honestly about their different addictions with food and the effect body image, food addiction, and eating disorders have had on their lives.  Mika has talked about her bulimia and her friend was obese.  Her friend has lost 75 pounds and Mika has gained about 14.

For the record, they are both beautiful women who need to change nothing.

Part of what motiviated yesterdays post about my own food addiction, apart from my mini meltdown on Sunday, was listening to Mika talk about her own addiction.  She tells, and retells a story about how one night, she woke up and began eating an entire jar of Nutella. Her husband found her in the kitchen when he woke up with an empty jar and her hands covered in Nutella.  Although I’ve never eaten and entire jar of the stuff myself, I completely understand and can identify with the feelings that compelled her to do this.  I have certainly found myself in the kitchen gorging myself on whatever it whatever it took for me to satisfy that urge.  Watching her on TV was like looking in a mirror, but a mirror where I am 5’10”, blonde, and totally hot.

I love the conversation she’s had about the shame of having an eating disorder.  I can totally relate.  And she talked about how she felt as if she had no right to come out about her own eating problems and her opinions about food and weight because she is thin and not fat.  Which, I can kind of understand what she means.  I have often listened to skinny girls who complained about their weight and thought, “yeah right, what do you know about being fat.”  But what I have come to realize is that it’s not the fat that’s the problem.  Whether one is fat or thin is immaterial, it is our own self-image that is messed up…that’s the real issue.

She has also talked a lot about how foods are designed to be addictive.  She had the author of another book that I am adding to my wish-list, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

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Michael Moss specifically talks about how the food companies spend a ton of money to make sure that we crave their foods.  It is easy to see how we have a huge obesity problem here in the US if the food we eat is made to be addictive.

It’s this combination of a destructive obsession with body image, fat, and self loathing and addictive foods that really seems to be at the heart of the problem.  When 2 out of three Americans are obese or have some kind of eating disorder, we have a problem.  People like Mika and her friend talking about their issues, is how we start to address it.

I cannot wait to read these books and I’m really looking forward to see what Mika has in store for tomorrow’s show!

My Changing Diet

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So, as part of prep for the Gastric By-Pass surgery I’m planning, I have to start changing my diet now.  Some of that change is an actual shift in the kinds of food I eat.  No more fast food.  No more junk food.  More fruits and vegetables.  Reducing fat and processed food intake. More whole grains, less simple carbohydrates.  I do not drink soda or sugary drinks, so that’s not a problem for me.

Most of the time I am good with this.  It is hard though.  I have to make sure that I have good food in my house at all times.  Then I actually have to cook this food.  I am a good cook and I like to cook.  But working from home, I am cooking 3 meals a day and whew that’s a lot.  I do not know how stay-at-home moms do it.  Well, actually, I regularly cook 2 meals a day.  Pouring soy milk over a bowl of Great Grains, slicing a nectarine, and nuking two turkey sausage patties is hardly cooking.  

To make sure I had enough healthy food for a couple of weeks, I ordered my groceries online from Peapod.com.  At 8:00am Monday morning, they were at my door with bags and bags of food.  I love it.  I know it is super lazy, but I live in a big city and I do not have a car at present.  Paying the delivery fee and tipping the driver is cheaper than renting a car or paying cab fare.  And I do not have to carry heavy bags of groceries up a flight of stairs.  

Ordering groceries online is kind of fun, but you really have to know what you are doing.  It helps to have a general idea of quantity and size.  It also helps to read clearly the description of the food you are ordering.  One time, I thought I was getting a good deal by ordering 42oz of oatmeal.  Unless you can think spatially, it is hard to gauge how much 42oz is.  Most oatmeal containers are 16oz-20oz.  The containers are a little bit bigger than a 64oz soda.  Here’s the thing though, oatmeal is lighter than liquid.  So, if 16oz-20oz is about he size of a 64oz soda, how big a container do you think it takes to hold 42oz of oatmeal?  Pretty darn big.  I pulled it out of bag and exclaimed “holy cow!”  Needless to say, I ate a lot of oatmeal for about two months.  

This week, I checked out all of the specials and they had a lot of buy-one/get-one specials.  One of bogo specials was mini seedless cucumbers.  I thought I read the special clearly.  I thought if I bought one cucumber, I would get another free.  What they were selling was a pack of 5 mini cucumbers.  If you bought one, you got one free.  So, now I have 10 mini cucumbers.  I have to make sure I eat at least one of them a day or they will go bad.  I did same with chicken breasts.  I thought I was buying two breasts and what I bought was two packs of two, so now I have four chicken breasts.  Thank goodness for freezers.  I did good with everything else.  I did not buy any super large sizes I wasn’t prepared for.  I made sure that I compared the sizes or ounces to what I already had and was about to run out of.  

I’ve gotten better at ordering my groceries online.  I have fewer OMG instances.  But it is still an adventure.  I find it fun to compare what I thought I was buying to what actually shows up on my doorstep.  So, eating healthier food…I’m getting better.

The second thing I have to do to change my diet is change how I eat my food.  I am not supposed to drink 30 minutes before I eat, while I’m eating, or 30 minutes after I eat.  This is to help me prepare for how I will have to eat after the surgery.  I also have to chew my food to the consistency of apple sauce.  This is very hard.  So much harder than I thought it would be.  It is easy to get you food and just start chowing down, especially if you wait too long to eat, which I often do.  Sometimes, I am a couple of minutes into my meal before I remember to slow down and chew, chew, chew, and then chew some more.  And I often forget not to drink until I take a drink.  

This is OK for now because I am practicing for later, but I need to get better and be more mindful of what I am doing.  I will not have much leeway with slip-ups after surgery.  

Here are a list of things that tire me out while chewing:

  • Some bread
  • Sandwiches
  • Hot dogs on a bun
  • Steak
  • Most meat
  • breaded foods
  • rice
  • large bites of any kind of food
  • complex foods

What do I mean by complex foods?  Great Grains cereal with chopped up fruit.  Chinese foods like Kung Pao Chicken or fried rice.  Food with many small parts that want to quickly fly to the back of my mouth to be swallowed or hide behind my teeth. That makes it tough to chew fully.

I have found that to be successful with the chewing, I have to take small bites.  If I take a big bite of anything, it takes me a long time to chew and it is very difficult.  Even with small bites, I find it hard to make sure that I chew the entire bite of food before I swallow.  Your mouth is programmed to start swallowing almost as soon as you start chewing.  Overriding that urge to swallow immediately is tough.  I was not aware of this until I started trying to be more mindful of how I eat.

It has been a challenge to make sure that I have enough of right kinds of foods in the house, shopping better, and cooking nearly every meal, forgoing junk food and fast food, and practicing proper eating techniques, but I have learned a lot this past month.

I know I may have grossed some people out with my talk about chewing, but I felt compelled to talk about it.  And if anyone who reads this post may be considering making the same choice that I have made, I think it is important that I am frank about some of the things they may face.  This is a big decision and not be taken on by everyone.  I feel that it is the right choice for me, but people need to make their own decisions.  If anything I say can help someone either prepare for what they may face, or motivate them make a different decision about their own health and diet, I think it is important that I am honest.