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On Sunday morning Ty asked me if I wanted to go to breakfast at Cracker Barrel and I said sure.
I know that everything on the menu is large, so it really doesn’t matter what I order, most of it will go uneaten. However this morning I really thought country ham would taste good so I ordered the same breakfast Ty did, called the Country Boy but with eggs over ‘well done’.
I sipped my coffee as we tried to talk above the loud chatter of the crowded family restaurant. Suddenly a line of waiters appeared at our table each holding trays filled with the plates containing our food. There were two dinner plates filled with biscuits, each with a BOWL of sausage gravy. Two dinner plates each with a dish of sugared fried apples, buttered grits, and a large spoon slap of cheesy hashbrown casserole that was already leaking oil. Then the oval shaped main platters of three eggs, and an entire Fred Flintstone sized slice of ham with the bone in the center, fat curling up around the edges.
Wow… what a vast mistake in judgment.
The only item that was a sure thing for me to eat was the eggs, and they jiggled when they sort of dropped my platter on the table. I could tell by the way they moved that I would not be able to eat them in their state of ‘uncookedness’. Our line up of servers had already disappeared by the time the eggs stopped moving on my plate, so I just sort of stared at my breakfast, as my husband dug in to his.
While waiting for someone to reappear, I ate a bit of the ham. Salty, meaty, cured flavor of ham is good in small amounts. Ty couldn’t enjoy his food, as he suddenly became concerned over my egg situation. It wasn’t a big deal, but he couldn’t relax and eat – so his mission was now getting someones attention, and I couldn’t stop him. Bless his heart.
He got the manager on it. Oh, not in a bad or demanding way. Just a ‘hey I know the world eats eggs over medium but my wife doesn’t so can you get her some that are cooked please, so I can eat MY breakfast in peace and not worry because she is sitting and staring’ sort of way.
So the manager took off on his mission to get me another THREE eggs, this time cooked to the hard stage. I called after him in vain, JUST ONE EGG WILL BE FINE SIR! He didn’t hear me.
Four minutes later, the crackerjack staff at Cracker Barrel, had three new eggs on a large white platter, steam rising from them – as the manager struggled to find room on our table for the new addition.
Finally – breakfast. I ate most of one egg, and hiccuped. I was done.
While Ty chowed down on his Country Boy breakfast, I contemplated ‘the pouch’. At well over 9 years post op, WHY was my restriction still so pronounced? WHY could I still only eat a portion of ham the size of the palm of my hand, a single wedge of cooked apple, and three bites of my egg? I know many other post ops who eat a LOT more than I can. I regularly dine with other post ops who can easily eat most of an omelet, or most of a meat or fish entree with most of the potatoes even after casually dabbling in bread.
While waiting for eggs, why didn’t my fork go to the potato casserole, or the biscuits and gravy… which I imagine I could have placed a serious dent in. I nibbled the ham… protein first. I have trained myself so I dont have to really think about being good. I sometimes have an internal dialog as to why I can or cannot have a little of something bad, but generally my good choices are automatic.
My theory is that I was so good, for so long early on, viewing my chosen path as final, that I never pushed the restriction of my pouch. I truthfully don’t eat past the feeling of ‘satisfaction approaching fullness’. I didn’t suffer from the binge eating compulsion many of us face. I never had a fast food addiction – and even nearing 300 pounds, darkened the door of McDonalds less than a handful of times each year. The grocery store was my friend and if I cooked it, I ate it – all of it. That was my choice, and my volume. I was a volume eater.
Later yesterday, I found a stack of newspaper clippings in an old cookbook – all very fattening dishes, cheesecakes, bars containing copious amounts of sweetened condensed milk, entrees with cream filled sauces and butter, and a rolled bread FILLED with pepperoni filling that made my arteries clog just reading it. My problem with food was not just amount but really just as much my choice of food. In looking back I chose food based on decadence and the more fattening, the better.
What we choose to eat as post ops, is as important or even more so than listening to our body and STOPPING when we become ambivalent about eating more. When you don’t care about another bite, that is when you stop -NOT when you are physically full. Our eyes want more, but our brain says ‘eh, who cares about another bite’.
This is longer than I intended and I hope many of you are still reading. The point is that restriction of volume is just a part of this but needs to be preserved by good habits early on. People more than 2 or 3 years post op who can plow through a volume of food equal to that of a ‘normal’ person I believe have worked on stretching out their surgically created tool by pushing volume early on. The one two punch of Volume and Choice is key.
If we don’t make permanent changes to the way we view food, the way we choose food, its over for many by the time that homestretch of 5 years is hit. If you have a drive to eat after you are full, find a therapist and talk to them about the way you feel, and what coaxes you to keep the fork in your hand once you are full. Therapy is NOT a bad thing – it’s a good thing.
If you are still in that under one year zone – preserve your volume restriction, preserve your dumping mechanism by respecting an absolute maximum 8 gram sugar limit that you use for natural sugar. Keep this surgery intact, and it might help you to stay healthy for the rest of your life.
There was even greater good to come from our Cracker Barrel breakfast other than my Giant Food Epiphany – while waiting for our table I found the perfect Christmas gift for my brother – a giant three foot tall silver composite eagle for his living room. (hehehe) His wife will just love it!