We have TWO built in portion control devices if we only use them. Forget the phone app, once you are comfortable with eating again, choose the right foods and you’ll never have to measure or keep track again. We have a pouch and a brain. Truth!
When most of us have our bariatric surgery and first return home from the hospital, we are tentative and afraid of what comes next – how will we feel when we take those first sips, or bites? Will it hurt? Will I feel full? Will I feel different?
So we start off with clear liquids and sip water, chicken broth, Diet Snapple, jello and everything seems fine, soooo we progress to thicker liquids like strained cream of mushroom soup, yogurt, sugar free pudding, custards, so far so good, so we move on to purees like black bean soup, mashed pinto beans, more pudding, custards, dabble in shrimp salad, and then softer foods like eggs poached in V8, and OH OH WE BEGIN TO PANIC THAT WE DON’T FEEL FULLNESS, WE CAN STILL EAT MORE! Did they even do the surgery?
Tell us about the good old days
When I had my surgery in 2001 I read everything that had been written, both good and bad, about this surgery, I was one of those who knew exactly what to expect on paper, and I remember writing the post on a message board questioning why I didn’t feel full after having soup and worrying about it. ‘I am eating soups, ricotta, thick icy protein shakes, and bean purees, yet I don’t feel full – I only stop because of fear’.
Well, now I know that in these squishy food stages, we are eating a very small amount of very liquid food in each bite, and the mixture is running out of our pouch while we are putting more in so there is never really any true satisfaction created by anything accumulating and filling the pouch, pressing the sides, and sending a signal to the brain that it is full.
Shrimp Salad rules!
Once we progress a little further, fullness hits us like a ton of bricks – shrimp, fish, chicken, wham! I often realized mid bite I would have to spit out chewed food as I had suddenly become too full to even think about swallowing what was in my mouth. From that moment of clarity forward, I got it. I always use my pouch as a tool. I have learned that if I fill it with soft cooked solid protein for the few first bites, then move to soft vegetables mixed with more protein bites until I feel that I am nearing that feeling of satisfaction… NOT fullness… that I don’t need to measure a portion. That last bite should create a soft fill. HICCUP! One big hiccup when I do it right. This takes a lot of practice and you have to feel for the signs but they are there.
There are also post ops who never get over the fear of eating – they eat a single tablespoon or two of food, and never go past it. They stop eating before all the wonderful strong signals manifest themself! They never feel that creeping awareness of satisfaction, or that hiccup signal, or fullness as they stop before these signals come about. A handful actually develop an eating disorder but that is rare.
Grazing, leave it to the cows
Many who don’t achieve satiety are never full and graze by eating small amounts all day long. Always somewhat filling the pouch but never to satisfaction, which is the strongest feeling we can create for ourselves. I know people who only take three bites of food but repeat it all day long and never enter that post op zone where they are using satiety as an ally. Fix a properly balanced plate with 4 to 6 ounces of protein and then softly cooked vegetables or baby greens or chopped salad, but then use the satisfaction factor created by the protein makeup plus bulk to create lasting fullness.
When you have it, the feeling of satiety or fullness lasts a very long time once triggered. Once I hit that zone, I don’t want to eat for a very long time. Those who don’t use the pouch fill mechanism are often hungry as they never trigger their own response!
Make good choices, stop when satisfied
If you are a post op who measures your food, enters it into your phone app and relies on measurements to stop rather than your pouch, KEEP DOING IT as if it is not broke, don’t fix it. However, use your secondary tool… your BRAIN… and THINK about what you are doing. Make decisions using your head.
HOWEVER, not everyone is organized or disciplined enough to calculate the statistics or nutritional info on every morsel. I am one of those folks. When I make Stir Fried Chicken and Bok Choy, it doesnt mater what the nutrition values are. It’s chicken. It’s bok choy. It’s chicken broth. It’s soy sauce. MY POUCH WILL STOP ME AT FIVE OUNCES OF CHICKEN. I know the calories are low, I know the nutrients are high. I know the carbs are healthy. The protein high. That there is NO sugar. THE ACTUAL STATS DO NOT MATTER.
Focus on the foods
If everything you cook with is a GREAT CHOICE food, all combinations will be good for you. Magic Strawberry Ice Cream is made from frozen berries, ricotta, vanilla extract and Splenda (optional so calm down Splenda haters). I am having some an hour AFTER my protein meal so we know a couple of things. 1. It is self limiting. I can’t eat too much. IF I push it, it comes back up. 2. Nothing in it hurts me.
The Whole is Greater than the Sum of It’s Parts. This means simple ingredients like ricotta, frozen berries, and vanilla are good but when combined in a particular way Magic Strawberry Ice Cream is beyond goodness!