"What can you eat now?" It's one of the first questions that I get asked by people.
At six years out from gastric bypass surgery, my answer is "almost anything." It wasn't always that way, of course. The first few years, I couldn't eat things like ice cream, french fries, and other former staples in my diet. There would be immediate mutiny in my stomach if I even looked at those foods. So out of necessity, I just started eating a lot healthier and it soon became my "normal" way of eating. There are some things that I still cannot eat, but mostly there are things that I choose not to eat.
"Actually, the way lots of foods tasted was dramatically different."
I know many other weight loss surgery patients have said the same thing: many of the foods in our former pre-op lives just taste awful now. (There is actual scientific fact to back this up, such as this great article found here on Bariatric Times.) So I thought I'd create an addiction and subtraction list to get a glimpse into my post-op life eating. Some of these foods are healthy, some are not. Some of these foods I eat because I have to, some are because I want to. Some of them are subtracted from my life for good for medical reasons. In all of these cases, it may be helpful to first get a glimpse at what I used to eat regularly first.
Before Weight Loss Surgery
Pre-op: I lived alone in a large house and I taught music out of my home. I barely left home, as a matter of fact. My life consisted of take out food, ice cream, and ice cold glasses of Coke (which was my absolute favorite beverage in the world: several cubes in a nice glass - ahhh, heaven!). My take out meals were almost always either pizza (of which I would eat approx 80% of the entire large pie) or chinese food takeout - enough for at least two large meals, which I would eat as one.)
When I had to go on the liquid diet for two weeks before surgery, I thought I. was. going. to. die. I literally thought I was going insane and that maybe I was making some horrible, horrible mistake. I had 2-3 shakes a day and allowed myself two slices of low calorie toast with butter for the last meal of the evening. I lost 14 lbs in two weeks, enough for the go-ahead for surgery.
I think I can probably skip the portion size and shakes description for the first few months after surgery. Most of you already know that. So, I'll jump straight to me six-years-out addition and subtraction lists with notes:
Six Years After Surgery
Soda: any soda. I cannot STAND the taste of it - whether it's diet or regular. It all just tastes like a giant fuzzy glass of sugar and turns my stomach. The only exception to this is ginger ale and I have the diet version ONLY when I have an upset stomach.
Chinese Food: I never touch it any more, and if someone suggests we go to a chinese restaurant, I begrudgingly oblige. The oily taste just completely turns my stomach. (You might be happy to know, though, that pizza still remains a staple in my diet. More below.)
Also Read: Pizza on the Brain - Can I Ever Eat It Again?
Ice Cream: In my post-op days, I have become lactose intolerant. I can have a couple bites, but that's it. Any more than that and World War III breaks out in my gut.
Rice and Pasta: I can't have it - of any kind. Once it's inside my pouch, it expands and the pain is excruciating. I love both, but I love being NOT in pain even more. Foods that are high in calcium oxalate stones can wreak havoc on a post-op who is susceptible to kidney stones. Other healthy but hurtful foods include spinach, beets, rhubarb, nuts, and wheat. It's the spinach one that kills me. I love me some spinach. *Note: have questions about this? Be sure to check with your surgeon or nutritionist!
Cottage Cheese: I know. Some of you are rolling your eyes right now, but honestly, it's good stuff! Knudsen offers cottage cheese doubles with amazing flavors like pineapple, peach, mango, and strawberry, and they're only 100 calories and completely fill me up in the morning with a cup of coffee. Never in my life did I think cottage cheese would be a favorite of mine, but it is. And speaking of cheese…
Cheese: of all kinds, all varieties, I love, love, love it. One of my absolute favorites is from Trader Joe's and it's called Unexpected Cheddar. It's like cheese sent from the Gods. It's a small square wrapped in cheese paper in the cheese section. Buy it. You will thank me for it later.
Fruit: my new sugar rush. I love, love, love fruit. In particular, I love pineapple, mango, red grapes, and bananas. Any time I start getting a sweet tooth, I grab some good stuff.
Lean Cuisine: I know it's a bit of a cop-out, but when I'm working at the school and need something quick to eat, this does the job. Usually the calorie count is pretty decent, and they have some great flavors like Turkey Dinner, Sesame Chicken (my favorite), steamed Asian dumplings, and even a great BBQ pizza.
Pizza: This has never left my diet, I've only gotten more adventurous with the vegetable portions. I love pretty much any veggie but a mushroom on my pizza. And if it's well hidden, I'll even eat that. I can only handle one piece of pizza on a good day, but believe me, I savor each bite.
Salad: Ok, so no dark greens like spinach, but I can create a pretty kick-ass salad with butter lettuce, romaine, or even regular iceberg.I think every salad should have veggies, cheese, egg, and some kind of small chopped meat. And I usually add some tortilla strips for crunch. And salad dressing? I either make my own (lite vinaigrette) OR, I usually use a regular honey mustard as a dressing. Trader Joe's make the BEST sweet and spicy honey mustard in the world. Go buy it in vats. You'll thank me later.
Vitamins and Supplements: It goes without saying that I'm a huge fan of Wellesse Liquid Supplements. As someone who is Vitamin D deficient and also anemic, going without vitamins in my diet is NOT an options. Check with your surgeon and dietician and make sure that you are including your vitamins as part of your new post-op world diet.
So that's about it. I eat pretty normally now with a few exceptions. I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician, I just go by the info they've given me and the research I've done. Hope this helps you know what to expect. At six years out I'm living and eating great!
Guest post by Diva Taunia, a professional musician and music educator located in the greater Los Angeles area."
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