I’m a total foodie. I love food. I love the smells. I love the tastes. I love the presentation. I love experimenting with new recipes. I love cooking in general. I tolerate baking – which is kind of funny since I went to culinary school to be a professional baker. I am a passingly good baker, but it’s not my passion.
I’ll be honest – one of the reasons that I wanted the DS (there were many) was because of the quality of life in relation to food and eating as a post-op. It’s not such a rosy picture for post-ops of other forms of WLS in terms of food and eating. I knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t/couldn’t be successful with the modifications necessary to be a successful post-op of those procedures.
Hence, I love my DS.
There’s a lot of talk in the DS post-op world about things you should and shouldn’t do in order to be successful. People make blanket statements about this is good, this is bad, etc. That drives me nuts a little bit because a lot of post-ops forget one very important factor when making these blanket statements: different surgeons have different surgical protocols, and every single one of us has a unique physiology. Yes, there are some things that hold true for all of us – but there are a lot of things that don’t! That’s why it’s SO important to know your surgical specs (sleeve capacity, alimentary limb length, common channel length) so that you can weigh these things in an informed manner.
So – all of that said, I should tell you that I have a pretty aggressive DS. My sleeve capacity is about 60 cc’s, 185 cm alimentary limb, and 65 cm common channel. That means I have a lot of restriction and a lot of malabsorption. It means I have a lot to be responsible about (eating enough, taking my vitamins, keeping a close eye on my labs), but it also means I have a lot of liberty as well.
It’s all about balance, people!
I have a really unique approach to eating, probably. I know I’m not the only one, but some folks might think me a little out on left field. There are a number of reasons for my philosophy of eating – they would include:
- Allergies – I’m allergic to a TON of stuff.
- Sensitivities – not true allergies, but stuff that gives me hives, or blisters, or migraines, or makes me throw up – I don’t like any of those things, so I avoid the items that cause them.
- Core values
- A concern and sense of responsibility to be doing the best for my family and myself
So, just to get started, I’ll tell you some of the stuff (foods – meds are a whole additional ball of wax!) I’m allergic to and you’ll see how that impacts my DS post-op diet:
- Egg whites
- Artificial sweeteners
Stuff I avoid in foods altogether:
- HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
- Foods that have chemicals in them
For the most part, that means that I avoid pre-packaged foods. That means I read a LOT of labels on food items. It means I make most of my food from scratch – which, honestly, tastes so much better than the store bought stuff, it just doesn’t break my heart at all. And it’s also convinced John and I that having a place to live where we can have a large organic garden and a flock of our own chickens is a big priority for us – and so we do. We grow as much of our own produce as we possibly can, freezing and canning and preserving otherwise to make the harvest last throughout the year. I guess you could say we’re kinda granola. But that’s okay – I don’t mind that.
So how does this all mesh with being a DS post-op?
It definitely affects some of the preconceived ideas that newer post-ops are bantying about.
- I don’t do any protein shakes, powders, bars, products – any of them – at all. Why? Because they make me hurl. I hate throwing up, so I’m not going there. On top of that, they’re just a big old huge pile of chemicals – I don’t want those in my body!
- I avoid anything that says low fat or low carb. I’m a DS’er I don’t need those things! If you haven’t read it yet, do read Dr. Hess’ patient instruction manual!
- I don’t count carbs. Carbs are not evil. Consuming too many simple carbs will not do you any favors, but not all carbs are the same. In fact, I want lots of complex carbs in my diet – they’re good for me!
- I don’t do any HFCS or carbonation any more. I did for a long time, but then I learned that they both block calcium absorption, and no DS’er in their right mind should be doing anything to block calcium absorption!
That being said, I do have daily goals in terms of nutrition. These are my basics:
- 90 to 120 grams of protein daily
- 30 to 35 grams of dietary fiber daily
- 50 to 60% of my calories from fat
- 120 ounces of non-sweetened (artificially or otherwise) fluids daily
- All of my vitamins
- Move – walk a little more each day
It’s pretty basic stuff. It’s doable. It might take a little more effort. But it’s doable.
I should add that I also try and spot check my actual intake about once a month on www.fitday.com– to make sure I’m hitting my protein goals specifically. As we become older post-ops we often overestimate how much we’re actually consuming – we tend to judge things on what we’ve served ourselves as opposed to what was actually ingested. For instance, I made myself a deli sandwich. Did I eat the whole thing? Nope, only half, the other half is in the fridge for later. On Fitday, a lot of us would put down one sandwich, instead of half a sandwich. It’s important to record specifically if you want a true snapshot of what’s going on.
So – the above are the things I don’t do. Here are the things that I do embrace!
- Whole milk (raw is best)
- Heavy whipping cream
- The best cheeses
- The best cuts of meat – avoiding the lean stuff
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruit
- Whole grains
- Foods that I know what every single ingredient on the label is
I really believe in sustainable, local, organic, whole foods. I’m a big time fan of New Season’s Markets – they’re here in the NW and put Whole Foods to shame. They adhere to the same philosophy and carry wonderful products (and a lot of DS-friendly vitamins, too!). Having a resource like that has been wonderful, too.
So – just in case you’re worried I’m throwing a bunch of wheat germ in my chocolate chip cookie recipe, I’m not. My Grammy used to do that – yuck! I’m not opposed to dessert. In fact, I love dessert! Cake is my absolute favorite – but I don’t want the cheap plasticky stuff – I want the good – made from scratch the good old fashioned way stuff. Why waste the space in my tiny little tummy with crap? I don’t avoid dessert! If I want a cookie, I have a cookie. If I want a slice of German Chocolate Cake, then I have a slice of German Chocolate Cake. If I want a bowl of ice cream, I have a bowl of ice cream.
The big thing here is that it’s all about balance. I KNOW that my body needs certain types of FUEL for it to run optimally. That means I’ve got to get the basics in – they’re non-negotiable. It’s gotta happen. When I accomplish that, then why not have a treat?
I should say that everyone ought to exercise some. Our society has become so sedentary – it’s not good for anyone. And for a DS post-op it’s really not good – we have to fight malabsorption on the calcium front, and we want healthy bones! That means you gotta move to keep them – well, and take your vitamins. For those of us – like me – who have big orthopedic issues, that means you gotta find what works for you. I carry a pedometer in my pocket all the time. My goal is to do more steps today than I did yesterday.
The DS is all about real life. Yes, there’s tons of responsibility. But the liberty is amazing. As are the results. I’m thrilled with my quality of life and wouldn’t trade it for anything!