Monk Fruit In the Raw #InTheRawParty

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As a “recovering” diabetic, thanks to gastric bypass surgery, I am always looking for a sugar substitute that tastes good and isn’t loaded with bad for you chemicals.  I was so thrilled to be offered the opportunity to host a Monk Fruit in the Raw party!

Monk Fruit in the Raw

What is Monk Fruit?  Grown on a vine called luo han guo in China and Thailand, the fruit kind of looks like a melon, but the flavor is said to be 500 times sweeter than sugar.  It is used in Eastern cultures to boost immunity and stave off cravings for sugary snacks.  The fruit is the basis for Monk Fruit in the Raw, a new zero calorie sweetener.

Monk Fruit in the Raw gift package

I figured the best way to really test out the Monk Fruit in the Raw was to invite friends and family over for a cookie tasting event.  Desserts are a huge thing for me, and we try in our house to make our desserts healthier choices or options that have lower amounts of sugar.  The kids get a little frustrated with the frequent offer of a fresh fruit bowl or sugar free popsicle or pudding for dessert, but I’ve had hit or miss success with baked good and artificial sweeteners.

Baking using Monk Fruit in the Raw

Fear no more, my sugar deprived children!  My homemade with Monk Fruit in the Raw cookies were a HUGE hit!  I did three kinds of cookies – white chocolate macadamia nut, oatmeal raisin, and chocolate chip – and there wasn’t a cookie left in the house at the end of the party.
Cookies made with Monk Fruit in the RawThanks to a pre-party taste test, I had the courage to try the Monk Fruit in the Raw in a handed down family recipe for Irish soda bread.  Because the sweetener is much sweeter than sugar, I was worried about measuring the right amount for the bread, which is a barely sweet bread, but it turned out positively perfect!

Irish Soda Bread made with Monk Fruit in the Raw

 

Guests were delighted with all of the treats, and we then broke open a box of the sweetener packets to use i coffee and tea.  Reviews were somewhat mixed.  The “fruity” taste some people noticed in their drinks didn’t seem to be prevalent in the baked goods, but some guests conceded that the fruity taste might have been a result of a flavored coffee.

Guests with their Monk Fruit in the Raw tote bags

Overall, the sweetener was well received.  Not a crumb was left of any of the desserts, and no one complained of an aftertaste or chemical taste that they said they often find obvious with other artificial sweeteners.  Many have said this is now going to be their new on the table sweetener!

Monk Fruit in the Raw in coffee and tea

You can learn more about Monk Fruit in the Raw by visiting http://www.intheraw.com/products/monk-fruit-in-the-raw.

*Disclosure – I was offered free samples of Monk Fruit in the Raw products for the purposes of hosting this party.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

 

The Demons That Haunt Me

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Obesity is such an ugly word.  I’ve hated being fat my entire life – which is about how long I’ve been fat.  And the weight causes me to hide myself from so many things.  I’m uncomfortable in my own skin most of the time – even when I leave the house feeling like I don’t look too bad.  But maybe I need to be that uncomfortable.

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Me just prior to my gastric bypass (on the right, weighing just over 300 pounds) and about a year ago, weighing about 20 pounds less than I do right now.

The two times in my life I can honestly say I wasn’t overweight were the result of drastic measures.  In high school, I stopped eating.  No, seriously – just stopped.  I drank iced tea all day long, and then for dinner, had small portions of whatever my mother was cooking.  Nothing to eat, all day long, took me from a size XL teenager to a size medium teenager.

The other time, I had gastric bypass surgery.  The surgery took me from a size 3XL woman to a size medium/large.  From a size 26 to a size 10.  And aside from the grey pallor, I thought I looked damn good.  I didn’t – and I had friends and family telling me I didn’t – but I was convinced.

Then I had a couple of surgeries, followed by complications, and with each instruction to rest and recuperate, I ate.  I learned that my surgically altered pouch could hold way more than I thought it could – especially if I ate stuff that was bad for me.

Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I've let myself go!

Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I’ve let myself go!

I’ve started and restarted diets more times than I care to count since my surgery.  It really is like an albatross around my neck – and every time I feel like I can lift my head up and move forward, it drags me back down.  We’ve started cooking all of our meals at home, so there are no fast food temptations, but I find myself grabbing a bag of chips or package of cookies every time I hit the supermarket.

And guess what?  I’m about to turn 50 years old.

This last surgery, combined with the realization that I am now only 6 years younger than my grandfather was when he died, and only 16 years younger than my dad was when he died, has issued yet another wake up call.  I don’t know how many of those calls I’ll need before I finally “get it”, but my kids leave for camp on Monday, and Jim and I are going to head back into the gym.  We have no running around or excuses to prevent us from getting there.  And the cookies and chips that I buy because I think my kids need them?  No need to have them in the house for two full weeks.  Maybe by then, I’ll have cured my own need for them.

My most recent blood work came back excellent – and my sugar level (I was full blown diabetic before my gastric bypass surgery) was 85 – which is great.  But the rest of me is a hot mess.  I’m going to see what I can do about that.  Maybe I’ll celebrate turning 50 with a little less of me.

 

What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered – Dumping Syndrome, The Fun Never Ends!

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While the common term for what we’re going to talk about today is Dumping Syndrome, I much prefer the alternative term – rapid gastric emptying.  As a fat chick, it sounds like the closest thing to exercise I’m going to get.

So here is essentially the deal of why dumping happens.  You’re happily eating away, ignoring the Eating Commandments of the Gastrically Altered (that’s another post for next time), and the food decides to completely bypass that whole annoying stomach thing ya got going and heads straight for the duodenum (which is that hard to pronounce funny thing also known as your upper small intestine).  The duodenum expands very quickly to accommodate the food, and, well my good gastrically altered friends, that’s when all hell breaks loose.

And now you want to know WHAT happens when this happens.  I know you do – you’re just curious little buggers!

Basically, the duodenum declares mutiny.  It recognizes that you’ve done something completely unacceptable and it’s pissed the hell off!  It rounds up its friends – the pancreas, the stomach, the lower intestine – and the revolution begins!

Sometimes, the symptoms begin mildly, with some nausea and maybe some dizziness.  Gradually, the Bodacious Bowel Brothers join the madness – you’ll recognize them when they arrive – cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.  Somewhere between all this nonsense, I end up laying on the bathroom floor, because accompanying all this happiness going on, you get so tired, so quickly, you can barely pick your head up in the most extreme cases.

But wait, there’s more!

There’s something called “Late Dumping”, which happens usually an hour or more after you’ve eaten (whereas plain old regular dumping is a fairly quick process – within a few minutes).  Late dumping is usually accompanied by just a complete body weakness, sweating, and oh yeah, more dizziness.  Remember that bathroom floor I spoke of?  It becomes your very best friend.

And as if you haven’t had enough fun yet, order your Dumping Syndrome now and we’ll include at no extra cost a hypoglycemic reaction!  (shipping and handling charges apply)

Now that you know what it is, how do you NOT get it?

You’re gonna hate this answer.  You have to watch your diet.  Bummer, right?

The main triggers for dumping syndrome are fats and carbohydrates.  Early dumping (the nausea, cramping, bloating, etc.) is generally associated with eating fats.  Because you are gastrically altered, fats don’t digest the same way they used to, and it can cause dumping.  Late dumping is often a carb related event.

If you are a frequent dumper – or if you have concerns that you might be – the solution is easy.  Skip the simple sugars and limit carbs and fats.  Spread your meals out over the course of the day into six smaller meals.  Oh, and don’t drink with your meal.  Taking some big swigs of water or tea or whatever your drink of choice may be can actually facilitate the rapid gastric emptying.  Drink after your meal has had time to digest or drink before (although I don’t recommend that, because you will fill your pouch with non-nutritive liquid as opposed to food).

In extreme cases, you may be required to take medication or worse – there are some sufferers who eventually require surgical intervention.

So there, in a nutshell, is Dumping.  You don’t want it.  Avoid it at all costs.

Oh, and learn what it feels like in your body at least once.  I mistakenly thought I was dumping when I actually had a life threatening bowel obstruction that required emergency surgery by the time I got to the hospital!

What Happens When You Are Gastrically Altered? A Slightly Off Track Story

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There are reasons we want to lose weight and put ourselves through the surgery and the side effects.  I’d like to say I wanted to feel better, decrease my chances of heart disease and other obesity related illnesses, have more energy.

Honestly, when I weighed over 300 pounds, I didn’t know I lacked energy.  I still functioned and got everything done I needed to do.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I wanted to look better.  I wanted to look in the mirror and find a body that I was happy with looking back at me.  There were no delusions that I would suddenly be 5’10” tall and 120 pounds with gorgeous flowing blonde hair.  But I didn’t want the body I had glancing in my direction.

So now it’s Award season out in Hollywood, and all the celebrities I used to curse as I sat eating my bag of Cheese Curls in bed are dressing up and strutting their stuff on the red carpet.  They’re all glammed out, wearing designer gowns, thousands of dollars of borrowed jewelry, and looking, well, looking…..

REAL!!  Oh my feckin’ God!

I cannot tell you how exciting it is for a girl who grew up in the era of Twiggy to see some of the celebs walking the red carpet!  These are bodies I want my daughters to see!  These are the women who are truly breaking ground in Hollywood.  Forget it if you think it’s awesome that a black woman winning an Oscar is big news.  It’s a whole ‘nother level of freakin’ fantabulous to see a big girl walk up on that stage!  And they are GORGEOUS!

Not only are they strutting their stuff, the gowns have been really and truly beautiful!

They’re not all dressed in black, trying to camouflage their bigness – they are showing pride in their bodies, pride in themselves, and honoring all of us big girls by doing it up right.

And I gotta tell you, I get much more excited to see these big, beautiful women than I ever could looking at this:

You know those people that always say things to fat chicks like, “She’s got such a pretty face…”?  Yeah, well, so does she – give the bitch a sandwich.

Skinny is one thing – I don’t mean to dis you if you’re trim and fit and beautiful.  But for someone who grew up thinking I might not ever be good enough because I wasn’t tiny, I think I’ve FINALLY reached a new level of liking myself after comparing this

to this:

You go, girls.  I’m so proud to be big.

What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered? The Scoop on Vitamins

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Ahhhh, let’s wax nostalgic, shall we?

Remember, back in the day, when you could eat like a human being and then take a Flintstones Chewable to supplement  any nutrition deficit caused by a diet high in Twinkies and diet Coke?

Even if you didn’t eat as badly as I did, you’ve probably never realized a time when you had to take more than one multivitamin daily to ensure you were getting all the things in your diet that you needed.  As women, sometimes we add iron and often calcium, but for the most part, you’re probably thinking you’re pretty well covered with a gummy vitamin.

Well, my gastrically twisted brothers and sisters, lets think back to our Lays days.  Remember those Lays commercials?  Betcha can’t eat just one?  Yeah, well, now instead of potato chips, I’m talking about vitamins.  There are so many things that you aren’t absorbing properly, and there’s no way you can get what you need between your diet and one multivitamin a day.  Here are some recommendations on what should be in your pill box on a daily basis.

Multivitamins – Honestly, it doesn’t matter what kind you take.  You want chewables?  They have them in all shapes and flavors.  Are you brave enough for liquid vitamins?  Ewwww, you’re gross!  But you’ll find them at most nutrition shops.  Your average one a day vitamins are perfect for you, with one HUGE exception.  In order to get the value from the vitamins that you need, instead of taking one a day, you’ll probably need three.  As with any medication, check with your doctor, but to make up for the vitamins you aren’t properly absorbing, you’ll need three multivitamins daily.  Yum.

Vitamin B-12 – I’ve met some gastric bypass patients who do weekly B-12 injections.  I do fine with one sub-lingual a day – and it doesn’t taste half bad (which means it DOES taste half bad, but mixed with the half that doesn’t taste bad, I can get it down without incident).  If you just can’t seem to do the under the tongue thing, you may want to ask your doctor about a monthly injection.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Calcium – First tip – if you are taking iron, don’t take your Calcium with your iron.  When Calcium and Iron get together, they have a bit of a smack-down over which one is actually going to be absorbed.  Give your Calcium a fighting chance and space out the Calcium and Iron doses.  Second tip – I know it tastes WAY better when you take your Calcium in those little chewy bits of chocolatey goodness, but guess what?  That’s not the best kind of Calcium for you.  Our bodies absorb Calcium Citrate much better than Calcium Carbonate.  Yeah, see if you can find that in a chocolatey delicious flavor.  It doesn’t matter – you’re going to need at least 1000 mg daily.  And if you can find Calcium Citrate that contains Vitamin D, you’re golden!  Vitamin D helps you to absorb the Calcium.  Good for you!!  You’re looking at taking two to three doses a day.  Are you full yet?

Iron – Do you know there are bypass patients who need blood transfusions?  They become anemic and have all sorts of clotting issues.  Back in August, when I was busy dying, my blood was busy plotting a mutiny.  Iron tablets saved me from a transfusion, but it took three pills daily to do it.  Have your doctor take a look at your labs and see what he recommends for you.  And women, yeah, we tend to need this more than our bulge battling brothers.  Remember what I told you about Calcium before?  Iron and Calcium are like the Hatfields and the McCoys.  You don’t want them in the same tummy together.

Vitamin C – We all love Vitamin C – it’s everybody’s friend.  It is especially Iron’s friend.  You can – and should – take Vitamin C with iron to aid in absorption.  You can usually get away with a regular dose of this one – but you’ll want to accompany your iron dose with a Vitamin C dose, so that means you’ll be taking it more frequently.

Zinc – This is a touchy one, because generally, we all need to take extra zinc.  It promotes healing and can help boost your immune system.  Is your hair falling out?  Of course it is.  That may mean you need more Zinc.  But here’s where things get touchy.  Zinc likes to mess up your absorption.  I know, right?  That sucks.  Because you’re taking practically a vitamin buffet, and you’d hate for it all to be wasted because Zinc stepped in, kicked ass, and took names.  10 mg a day should be enough without causing too much interference, but if your doctor indicates you need more, remember to take this one all by itself.  Cue the Eric Carmen music.  Does anyone even remember Eric Carmen?  Geez, I AM old.

I like to call Biotin the bonus in the box.  It’s the pill I always had in my pill box because, quite frankly, my hair fell out in clumps.  Biotin helps grow strong hair and nails, and many of us find that after gastric bypass surgery, our hair and nails are the first things to show signs of vitamin deficiency.  My nails were so soft for a while, I was afraid to even go get a manicure.  And my hair even today tends to be on the crunchy side.  Biotin can help get you over the hump in those early days when you’re eating virtually nothing – at least where you’re hair and nails are concerned.

And girls, Folic Acid – add it.  I know, your plate is already full.  But it helps avoid anemia and is great for growing new cells.

You may find your doctor suggests more or less when it comes to vitamins, but the most important thing is regular blood work.  And it’s not enough to make sure your levels are “within normal limits”.  Make sure they check constantly what they were last time or the time before that.  You may be considered “normal”, but your body can be depleting what you’ve got stored up in there.  You need to see if you’re trending downward.

So, once you take all these vitamins, you realize you have no room for real food!  I know – pain in the flippin’ arse 🙁  But take them anyway.  They’re going to mean way more to your body than the little bits of food you’re able to get in – especially in the beginning.  So just take them.  You’ll heal better and feel better.

 

What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered – Clothing Challenges

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Oh yeah, I went there.

That is a picture of my “Before” underpants and my “After” underpants.  I took that picture because I was so tired of seeing people post-op sticking both legs into one leg of a pair of jeans.  I thought my post-op clothing picture needed to be jazzier.  So yeah, drawers are jazzy.

But guess what?  You’re gonna need new undies!!

And pants.  And skirts.  And eventually tops.

Which all sounds like a good thing.  But here’s where it’s a bad thing.  It’s frustrating to go into the store, buy a new pair of smaller sized jeans, then two weeks later find out that you can step right outta them bad boys!  I’m not kidding!  When I hit size 16, I bought two brand new pairs of jeans, and was so excited to see my new smaller self in them.  But two weeks later, they kept falling off, they looked awful, and I had wasted the $100 bucks I spent.

There’s only so much a tailor can do when you’re dropping weight this rapidly, so as tempted as you are, you want to try and curb your urge to shop for the time being.  So what are you supposed to do when your clothes start falling off?  I mean, you don’t want to risk having the fashion police called (or the real ones, as indecent exposure could become an issue – for real!!).

If you belong to any type of Weight Loss Surgery support group, check and see if they do a clothing exchange.  Many groups – especially ones with a good number of members – will have a once a month clothing exchange.  You bring in all of your old sizes that are falling on the floor, and you can swap with members who are getting rid of the next smaller size. It saves everyone a lot of money, because there are almost always people moving from one size to the next.

Check out the thrift stores.  You may not typically be a thrift store shopper.  I am not, and believe me when I tell you I get a bit skeeved out when I think of used clothing from people with whom I am not personally acquainted.  Now’s the time to get over this skeeve factor.  Buy a good bottle of bleach and hit the Goodwill store.  I went from a size 24 to a size 10 in less than a year.  There is no way possible to purchase the amount of clothing you are going to go through unless you are exceptionally wealthy.  If you work at a job that requires a uniform or a particular type of clothing, then you need clothes for your days off, you really can sink a TON of money into replacing things every month.  Goodwill and other thrift stores will save you a small fortune, and you can think of the good deed you’ll be doing when you donate it all back as you continue to shrink.

Use Freecycle, Craig’s List, and yard sales.  I know, again with the used clothing, but trust me – you aren’t going to have to wear them very long, and just think of all the brand new things you’ll be able to afford when you’re weight stabilizes if you keep it cheap now!  Some Freecycle rules indicate that you have to offer something before you can take something – it’s a great way to get rid of the clothes you no longer need.

And lastly, buy stretch things.  I know, it’s finally a time in your life when you don’t NEED stretch pants – you can fit into jeans and slacks and nice thing.  But, stretch pants will take you further.  You can buy stretch pants in a size or two smaller and still wear them today.  That means that instead of getting two weeks out of a pair of pants before they are falling off, you may get two months out of them.  I know my size 24 arse was still squeezing into size 18 stretch pants (thank goodness for strong seams!), so coming down from the size 24 back to an 18 was a fairly easy adjustment on me in terms of clothing.  So, if you’re a size 18 now, buy 14 stretch pants – or better yet, a size Large, which really could take you down to a size 12.  And you all know you can dress the stretch pants up or down and make them work in lots of settings.

So, what have we learned?  We don’t want to spend our annual wardrobe budget on clothes we won’t be able to wear next week.  No one will believe you have joined a gangsta rap group and you INTENDED to wear your pants that way.  We have to get over our skeeved out selves and wear used clothing.  And all the money you save can be put into a fund for either a banging wardrobe at the end of your weight loss journey, or it can go towards some of the plastic surgery you might ultimately want to have!

What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered – Protein and You, Perfect Together!

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There are really only two words you need to know right now if you are recently post-op.  Pro. Tein.  Yeah, okay, so it’s only one word, but doesn’t it look much easier to swallow broken up that way?  Good, because for some of us, protein is not easy to swallow at all, and we spend a good bit of time in those early post-op days trying to find creative ways to get it in.

Your surgeon should tell you that you are going to need something like a bazillion grams of protein.  Well, alright, not quite that much.  But you should know that now that you’re bypassed, you are only going to be able to absorb about 25 – 50% of the nutrients you actually consume.  What did she just say?  Yeah, I said it.  You’re only going to get half of what you need in your food – the rest becomes, well, you know what the rest becomes.  There is no way you can eat enough food to get all of the nutrients you’re going to need.

And guess what?  That bazillion grams of protein, well, it might as well be, because to some of us, the 100 – 140 grams we need is just as hard to get in as the bazillion!

Remember when you were trying to get your kids to eat their vegetables, and you’d mash them up into spaghetti sauce or puree them and add them to your meatloaf, or you dredged them in batter, fried them in oil, and drowned them in cheese sauce?  Yeah, well, that’s the kind of creative thinking you might need now.

My best advice on the protein thing is sample.  If you belong to a Weight Loss Surgery support group, suggest a protein exchange.  Everyone can bring in zip-top bags with one portion of their favorite protein shake and you can swap them.  It saves you from investing upwards of $25 for a can of protein, only to find out you hate it.  Visit websites like www.vitalady.com and order samples of things you think you’d like.  And keep in mind – not all vanillas are the same.  If vanilla is your thing, order samples from two or three companies.  Some are super sweet, some of them don’t seem to blend well, and some are just way too chalky.  So if one brand of vanilla doesn’t work, don’t assume you all of a sudden hate vanilla.

But don’t be surprised if you do!

You know what I did before I went to the hospital?  I stocked up on Jello and chicken broth for my liquid diet stage.  Who knew that I’d come home from the hospital hating Jello and chicken broth?  So even if you’ve experimented before surgery to see which shakes you like, don’t buy them in bulk.  I had no idea that some things would be so offensive tasting to me after surgery.  I learned the hard way there really is always room for Jello – in my trash can 🙁

And did you know you can experiment with protein shakes?  Why, yes you can!  If it just doesn’t taste quite right with just the plain protein, add a half of a banana.  Throw in a little peanut butter.  Vanilla is better with a splash of orange juice added.  You can add flavored coffees, flavored syrups, fresh or frozen fruit – haven’t you always wanted to be a bartender?  Now’s the time to try your hand at mixed drinks!

Oh – and all protein is NOT created equal!  Sugar is not your friend, so you want to avoid shakes that contain lots of sugar.  The type of protein is pretty crucial too.  I’ve found through research and personal experience that the best one for us gastrically twisted sisters (and brothers) is Whey Protein Isolate.

So, bottom line – play with your food (or at least with your drinks), drink everything that’s put in your cup, and take your vitamins, so you’ll shrink to be littler and strong!

49 Days Post-Op

Bat Wings, Back Fat, and Other Body Anomalies that Make You Want Barbecue

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The sausage you see hanging in the photo above is not found at the Italian market in South Philly.  It is found hanging from my shoulder.  I have one on each side.  Not that I have something against sausage, but I want them gone.

Last summer, I started what I had hoped would be a series of plastic surgery procedures designed to help me get rid of the remnants of my formerly morbidly obese self.  I had a big, huge hanging belly; droopy, saggy boobs; sausage arms; and enough rolls on my back to hide Osama Bin Laden and the entire al Quaeda team.  My breast lift healed in record time, and I have very few physical indication that I had anything done – the scars are minimal, the boobs are in the right place, and it’s all good.

My tummy tuck recovery is epic.  Seriously, I could write a War and Peace sized novel on what a crappy healer I was – and I blame that on the selective hearing loss I suffer from when it comes to medical instructions.  I’m fine when the pediatrician tells me to fill a kid with fluids and give them Tylenol.  That, I have no problem hearing.  But when a doctor tells me that I have to not lift, not bend, not travel far; well, I don’t exactly catch ALL of the words – I just know he said something about lifting, bending, and traveling.

So, because I took so darn long to heal from my tummy tuck (six months, including four on a wound VAC), I think my surgeon was a bit leery about doing any additional procedures.  He wanted to make sure my wound was completely healed, free of infection, totally closed, blessed by the Pope, consecrated by the Dalai Lama, and prayed over by a Voodoo High Priest.

Done!

Next Thursday, I’m going under the knife again.  One day after my 20th wedding anniversary, I hope to begin the final chapter on the road to the new me that I found myself on almost five years ago.

Wish me luck.  Wish Dr. Veitia luck, because, after all, he has to deal with me.  And let the fun begin!

To My New Good Friend and Gentle Reader, Carrie!

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My new friend Carrie took the time to post a comment on one of my Blog Posts (find the original post http://beautygirlsmom.com/2010/06/14/i-took-the-easy-way-out-gastric-bypass-surgery-bitching/ ).  I’m taking the time to answer her!

Dear Carrie:

Unless you’ve had the opportunity to know me and my reasons for having Gastric Bypass Surgery, I wish to politely invite you to shut the hell up (whew, I avoided the “f” word this time – quite a feat considering I have absolutely NO self control, as evidenced by my need for gastric bypass surgery).  I don’t believe I was bitching about my surgery at all – I was bitching about the ignorant woman at the airport who sat in a seat eating doughnuts and drinking soda, all the while talking about her phenomenal weight loss through diet and exercise.  Because I recognize that gastric bypass surgery was my choice, I don’t bitch about the procedure.  I may have complained now and again about the things I experience as a result of this choice, but I never bitch about the choice itself.

And Dear Carrie, if you bothered to get to know me, you’ll know that I have had gym memberships.  I’ve been at least partially responsible for our local gym owner having the ability to send his daughter to private preparatory schools.  While that may make me a martyr of some kind, I don’t proclaim to be a martyr, neither for being such a generous contributor to a child’s education, nor for my gastric bypass surgery.

I’ve had the common sense to put my fork down; and I’ve had the common sense not to put my fork through ignorant people who think that we all have the ability to make a few lifestyle changes and be on the road to skinny.  Jaysus, I’m showing an awful lot of self control for someone who couldn’t stop eating!

You suggest a lifestyle change for people who have weight loss difficulty.  I made one.  It certainly wasn’t a lazy route.  Jenny and I are on a first name basis.  The Fresh Diet failed me until I was fresh out of money to pay for the pricey service.  Weight Watchers watched my ass get bigger every time I went to the meetings, after a week of eating their recommended amount of food.  So you see, Dear Carrie, I’ve exhausted every carefully constructed weight loss method before making the lifestyle change that led to my surgery.  Please note the use of the word “exhausted” – because that’s not something lazy people get very often.

We don’t all have the ability to follow the food pyramid, the USDA recommended dietary intake, and expect to be average sized people.  If you had bothered to get to know me before accusing me of being lazy, you’d know that I suffer from PCOS, a disorder of the endocrine system, making it difficult for me to lose weight.  Not that I’m using that as a crutch to stuff my face full of Twinkies, but it is a fact of my biology that weight loss is not as easy as giving up cookies and cake.  And I would guess that there are other people out there who have turned to Gastric Bypass Surgery who have similar metabolic disorders or thyroid conditions that make losing weight The Dear Carrie Way less than ideal.

And let’s give credit where credit is due.  Lots of us got fat because we ate too damn much.  But whether it’s stress; depression; a coping mechanism – for some of us, food means comfort.  It’s an addiction, like alcohol, tobacco, cocaine.  There is a euphoric high after you eat a slice of cheesecake, and a terrible guilt as a fat person when you do.  To regain the feeling, you eat another; and another; and another, until, ultimately, you’ve eaten the whole damn cake, you feel badly about yourself, and you fear judgement from people like Dear Carrie.  That sets up the whole cycle all over again – you eat to feel good, you feel badly when you do, so you eat more to feel good.

So tell me, Dear Carrie, if my therapist and yours went head to head in a psychological Top Chef of sorts, which one of us ends up with the more normal patient?  Mine at least knows my issues.  Does yours know how angry you are at fat people?  You might want to bring it up at your next session.

Thanksgiving – What to Pass and What to Pass On After Gastric Bypass

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There it is, stretched out before you like an oasis in the desert.  Spread out on that table is probably a good chunk of the reason you needed gastric bypass surgery in the first place.

I myself have waddled away from the table after having multiple helpings of my mom’s bread stuffing.  And my stepfather always knows where to go to get the best Thanksgiving pies – and he usually gets several, even if there aren’t going to be too many people for dinner.  And God bless my dad – he married into an Italian family.  Who  knew there was a pasta course with Thanksgiving dinner?

But now that you’ve had your surgery, Thanksgiving dinner is like a table full of land mines, waiting to take you out.  Stick with a few simple rules, and together, we’ll get you through so you can be up at the crack of dawn to do your Black Friday shopping.

RULE NUMBER ONE – Protein, baby, protein!  And lucky you!  There’s 20 pounds of it sitting right there, center stage.  If you’re cooking, make sure you’re extra careful to keep the turkey moist.  Baste often, cover with foil for the early stages of cooking, and start checking the temperature at the earliest point in your “done” window.  Dry turkey can be a beast to get down into a gastrically altered tummy, and stuck bird will ruin your whole day.

RULE NUMBER TWO – Vegetables are not covered in cheese, bread crumbs, or marshmallows.  And if they are at your table, move to a different table.  For some of you, vegetables are hard to eat, especially raw.  But plan to have something your pouch can tolerate.

Those candied yams might go down nice and easy, but you dumpers will regret it when you’re laying on the bathroom floor, bargaining with God that if he lets you live through that delicious praline topping on the sweet potatoes, you won’t allow a sugar into the house for Christmas.  And even if you don’t dump, should you really be eating a vegetable with a marshmallow topping after gastric bypass surgery?  Probably not.  And believe me, I’ve got so much sugar on top of my sweet potato casserole, it crunches when you dig the serving spoon into it.  If you want something sweet, bake some sweet potatoes, top them with a little cinnamon and some butter (don’t overdo the butter); or have some steamed baby carrots.  Even some sweet baby peas will add a bit of sugar to your holiday meal.

RULE NUMBER THREE – Starches are your mortal enemy.  Voldemort.  The Joker.  Lex Luther.  Ban them from the table, or at least ban them from your end of the table.  Potatoes are a pariah.  Stuffing is a sin.  Casseroles are criminal.

Load your end of the table with a delicious salad.  Throw in some chopped pecans and a handful of dried cranberries so you’ll have the taste and texture of some of the things you think you’re missing.  Make mock mashed potatoes with cauliflower, or if your family has a pasta course, make your course with spaghetti squash.  You can probably eat way more starches than you should, they aren’t of any real nutritional value to you, and you can’t convince me that throwing sausage or oysters into your dressing qualifies it as a protein.  Skip the starches.

THE CARDINAL RULE – I know it’s the cardinal rule because it’s red 😉

Anyway – the cardinal rule of Thanksgiving is to make yourself a sugar free dessert.  It’s just not going to be Thanksgiving if you don’t have something indulgent.  A beautiful low carb pumpkin cheesecake on the table will give you something to really look forward to that you can enjoy relatively guilt free (don’t eat the whole thing, but have a slice!).  Put a fruit salad on the table – you’ll be surprised at how many people will reach for seconds on fresh fruit, or take a smaller piece of pecan pie, and use the fruit as an accompaniment.  And if you finish your piece of cheesecake, the fruit will be there for you to pick at instead of nibbling your way through a second piece of dessert.

Keep in mind the real meaning of Thanksgiving.  It’s not a holiday meant to celebrate food.  Thanksgiving is a holiday to cherish the meaning of family, friends, and the wonderful blessings you’ve been given.  It’s nice to gather around a bountiful table, but spend at least a little time, when the table is clear, to appreciate the REAL things you have to be thankful for – wonderful family, good friends, and a thinner, healthier you!