I arrived at my office after a wonderful weekend spent testing holiday recipes for our BE holiday section. I love sugar free holiday cooking as it gives me an opportunity to show off just how good I can make a dish taste and still remain firmly within the general bariatric post op boundaries. I am not going for a dish that is ‘good considering its diet food’ – I go for ‘WOW this is delicious’. Otherwise, why bother?

Having a bariatric procedure means we have had a major surgery – we have had our stomach cut in half and either our intestines rearranged and reattached, or pieces of our body removed and tossed in a bucket in the operating room. You lap band and realize band folks stop snickering about how minor and reversible your procedure is – as you’ve had a silicon band looped around your stomach pinching off a portion of your organ, and a foreign device implanted under your skin – none of which can be removed unless you have another full service operation. When I was nine I had a plaid vest that was reversible – lap band is not really reversible.

It makes sense that we need to make permanent changes in our life after this serious surgery as if we continue to do what we did in order to qualify for our procedure, we will end up with the same result and it’s not a happy one.

All this to get around to talking about sugar.

On my desk was the advanced copy of a bariatric magazine and as I flipped through the pages, the first holiday bariatric recipe I read contained a full cup of brown sugar. In fact there was a dish of Brown Sugar in the main photo for the holiday section article. That was rather bold!

The last time that I checked with any of the bariatric surgeons we know, brown sugar was not on the list for allowable foods at any time in one’s post op bariatric life. More than half a dozen recipes in this particular issue of the bariatric magazine used sugar as an ingredient and none of them calculated or let readers know the number of grams of sugar in the finished dish. I wondered out loud in our offices just what in fact made them Bariatric Recipes – the cup of brown sugar, the half cup of white sugar, the two cups of orange juice, the honey, the maple syrup. Hmmmm, these recipes look like the classic recipes we all gorged on before our surgery. There are no lifestyle changes made to these dishes.

Highlighting these recipes is dangerous to the bariatric population out there who simply believes that because it’s in print, it’s a fact. Why would a bariatric magazine have all full sugar recipes? Even a recipe for stuffing had sugar in it. The pumpkin pie recipe had sugar. I didn’t notice a single Splenda recipe in the entire issue! I am certainly aware of the Splenda backlash – yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s suddenly fashionable to eat clean without artificial sweeteners because everyone wants to be healthy. Sure, sure, sure, so we go from 300 pounds and inhaling boxes of artificially flavored cereal and Little Debbie cakes to turning our nose up at Splenda. Pretty sure that being 400 pounds is going to kill a person faster than using Splenda.

My roux en y surgical procedure by design makes me very sick when I consume sugar – so as an long term bariatric post op I am still very careful to not consume more than a few grams of sugar at one time. It’s important to understand that a tomato contains sugar; but one needs to differentiate between the sugar in a tomato, sugar in milk, and the sugar in a Tootsie Roll. I rather enjoy having an additional tool to help me avoid foods that grew me to 300 pounds in the first place. I like having an additional line of defense to rely upon when that leftover Halloween Reese’s Cup is calling my name. In my opinion, too many post ops view dumping syndrome as a nuisance rather than as an ally and before you know it, they are boasting on a message board that ‘they don’t dump on sugar and can eat anything’. It may be funny now, but you might not think it’s so funny in another four years my friend.

Sure there are bariatric procedures where one doesn’t react to sugar, but just because you can eat sugar, it sure doesn’t mean you should. As I see it, most of us had a problem with that ‘all things in moderation’ principle. If it had worked for us we would not have needed drastic organ altering surgery. It didn’t work before surgery and for most it won’t work after surgery.

This is about changing our life – changing the pool from which we make our food choices. We didn’t have control for the thirty eight Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners before our surgery, what makes anyone think that we will have so much more control with brown sugar crusted ham, full sugar cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie made with sugar, and sweetened hot apple cider drinks after surgery?

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