Can versus Should sounds like the match up of the century, a boxing spectacle of great proportions!  An epic showdown!  All kidding aside, this is really important.

Bariatric Can vs. Should - Alison Garcia for BariatricEating

We see a lot of examples of Can vs Should in the BariatricEating Support Group on Facebook.

Look at what I CAN do!
I can eat Rice and doesn’t bother my pouch.I don’t have any problem eating rice!
I can drink Diet Pepsi! Soda is ok, it doesn’t upset my stomach and I drink it as a treat. I’m cool with it in moderation.
I can eat half of a Subway without it getting stuck and then I put away the rest. I am ok.

And on and on and on. A lot of times we see these things of this nature, and it startles the Admin team. Can is a powerful word. Should is even more powerful. Just because you CAN scarf down half of a loaf of bread, and not have massive pain or discomfort doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Bread is empty calories, and a waste of valuable pouch space. But that’s a whole other topic.

There is a bold decisive line between the two. Dabbling in CAN has caused the heartache of regain for many of us. Let me tell you true, regain is harder to lose on the second round, because you are now driving the car. There is no magic Honeymoon Dust. Plus the fact that you have a wealth of carb cravings and bad habits and behaviors to kick. So it’s just not worth it.

With all due respect to Nutritionists and Dieticians, a lot of times we see post ops on solid food who say “well, my Nutritionist said that I CAN have bread, oatmeal, pancakes, potatoes. (#carbdelusional) Honestly, your Nutritionist probably didn’t have surgery, and specializes in adult weight management, not Bariatrics. Personally speaking here, my Nutritionist also tells me that I CAN have potatoes, but I choose not to do so, because I know I SHOULD not. See the difference? Just because I CAN, doesn’t mean I SHOULD.

Most of us shot of the post op gate with a determination to succeed. As time went on and we eased into bariatric life, we got a little too comfortable. We were losing five pounds an hour and felt amazing and unstoppable. We started reintroducing things back into our lives that have no business being there…. a little bread slathered with butter, half of a candy bar, a few Doritos with a grilled cheese sandwich, a burger from the local fast food joint, some pasta at the Olive Garden where previously we had vigilantly stuck with the chicken breast. We felt bulletproof and figured since we have done so well, we CAN have a “treat or two”. Be careful of this “stinking thinking”.

As Bariatric post ops, we gave a not-so-solemn swear to our surgeons that in exchange for them rearranging our intestines, removing a chunk of our stomach, or placing a silicone band around it, that we would adhere to the guidelines and stay true blue for the rest of our days. I think we forget.

I include myself in the Can versus Should party. Even though I have a Lap Band, CAN I eat a slice of warm bread, as long as it has sufficient butter? Yes. CAN I sip a soda without a problem? Definitely. CAN I eat a fast food burger as long as I go slow? Probably. CAN I enjoy a candy bar before it melts in my fingers on a hot summer day? Absolutely. Should I? Nooooooooooooo! Absolutely NOT. I tried those things and ended up regaining 70 pounds in four short months. By putting on my coat and leaving the CAN party, I have lost every pound I regained, but it was a hard fought battle.

My purpose of saying this, gentle readers, is this: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Remember that, make good choices, and enjoy long term success down the road. When we refer to Can vs Should, think about the potential consequences. Think about all of the people we have in this group that are fighting regain or never made it to goal, and consider how many of them may have also dabbled in Can vs Should and have lost.



9 thoughts on “Can versus Should… Is there a Difference?

  1. Nora says:

    Thank you for writing this and for the reminder to live in what I call “the safe zone” of tried and true guidelines for success.

  2. Linda says:

    Thank you for this, I’m 20lbs from goal and 8 months since sleeve and find my self making wrong choices, weight loss has stopped but the amount of food is the same. I need to remember the can/should way of thinking

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