I often wonder if those of us who have needed bariatric surgery are programmed differently.

What makes us snap and order a Bacon Blue Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries instead of a Grilled Chicken Salad or put the Doritos in the cart when we don't want to eat them?

Oodles of Noodles?

Standing at Panera Bread gazing at the menu it suddenly clicked with me that its about balance between calories eaten and those burned. I had been ordering a Cup of Tomato Soup and 1/2 a smoked turkey that I rolled up and ate without the bread. I assumed that tomato soup would have fewest calories, but as I squinted to make sense of the little numbers on the board I realized that I was WRONG! Tomato is near highest at 330 calories for a small cup. The soup that I would NEVER order, Chicken Noodle, because it has Noodles, is a measly 80 calories for the cup! That is if I ate the noodles even... ugh.

The Chowdah has Cream!

Poor Ty was standing there with his mind blown that the bowl of Clam Chowder he loves has 720 Calories. That's just crazy. Even crazier, is that when I was MO I hated knowing the calorie counts of what I was ordering but now I use these counts to choose my food!

It has taken me a lifetime to get to this place and the final light that went on has to do with exercise. The workout that I do only burns a minimal calories in real time - the screen flashes '171 Calories Burned' at the end of 20 minutes of sweat bursting HIIT. Even though I know it makes me burn at a higher rate for hours, when choosing food, 171 calories now relates to something tangible.

330 versus 80, get outta town!

Will tomato soup make me so much happier than chicken noodle that I want to consume four times the calories? No! Panera Chicken Noodle Soup is full of carrots and chunks of chicken - its delicious - and at 80 calories is a wonderful food choice. It only has 11 carbs even if I ate all the noodles.

Does this mean that I am actually thinking like a slim person? OR... am a thinking like a fat person trying to think like a slim person?

Skinny folks don't say 'extra mayo'!

There was a massive long term study done on the habits of people who are considered to be NATURALLY SLIM. They don't pig out on vacations, holidays, cruises, birthday dinners; they basically eat the same level of calories no matter what is happening in their life. THEY DON'T LOOK FOR EXCUSES TO INDULGE AND OVEREAT!

They eat roasted chicken and salad but remove the skin and they don't use blue cheese dressing. They don't eat four Cheddar Biscuits in the basket at Red Lobster and ask for more. They enjoy their meal and it is over. They do not eat as if they have been at a Vegan Festival for the week. As someone who has been obese all her adult life before bariatric surgery, I find this fascinating!

Preference or Conscious Choice

When on vacation, I look at the hotel breakfast menu and think 'Mmmm... I'M ON VACATION, I THINK I WILL HAVE EGGS BENEDICT WITH EXTRA HOLLANDAISE ON A CRAB CAKE!' I can't help myself, the fat girl takes over and that is where my brain goes. I must actively think my way through my gut choice. Pun intended.

Naturally slim people look at the same breakfast menu and think 'Spinach Egg White Omelet with Rye Toast'. OR Fruit Cup and Yogurt. OR Oatmeal. (oatmeal, really? There are bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese on the menu!) I have NEVER thought about ordering an egg white omelet in my entire life.

Outback Rules

Even with bariatric surgery I have to fight myself to order the smallest steak instead of the middle size. I know that I cannot eat the largest and can't finish the medium, but I just don't want to order the smallest. Maybe this has been psychologically analyzed by Outback. The same people who have enticed us to order a deep fried onion the size of my head and double the calories by providing a delectable dipping sauce. Have you ever asked for TWO sauces? I have.

Naturally slim people look at a menu and order the petite filet and grilled asparagus or *gasp* salmon. Cowboy Ribeyes, Porterhouse for Two, and 16 ounce NY Strip does not jump out at them. They don't order Bloomin Onions, lobster mac & cheese, loaded baked potatoes, or bs themselves that sweet potato fries are actually good for them. When a waiter asks 'Butter or Sour Cream', they have Never Ever Ever enthusiastically replied 'BOTH'. If I were a waiter, I would get fired for rolling my eyes when obese people said 'both'.

Just Another Day in the Life

The point is that Superbowl, Thanksgiving, July 4th, Birthdays and Anniversaries will still be great days if I am careful and think about it being just another day and not a ticket for me to eat things I know I don't want or need. It just takes time and that momentous epiphany to take place. In the meantime, we wait and debate with our inner selves over soups and sides.


See if you can guess the three highest and three lowest calorie Panera soups. ANSWERS BELOW!

  • Vegetarian Garden Pesto
  • Autumn Squash
  • Bistro French Onion
  • Chicken Noodle
  • Turkey Chili
  • Baked Potato
  • Clam Chowder
  • Vegetarian Tomato
  • Broccoli Cheddar
  • Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice
  • Black Bean

Here are the answers with 3 highest calorie Panera Soups in RED and 3 lowest calorie Panera Soups in GREEN along with Calories, Carbs, Sugar and Protein!

  • Clam Chowder 480 calories 21g carbs 4g sugar 6g protein
  • Vegetarian Tomato 330 calories 26g carbs 8g sugar 6g protein
  • Baked Potato 230 calories 18g carbs 4g sugar 5g protein
  • Broccoli Cheddar 230 calories 15g carbs 0g sugar 9g protein
  • Autumn Squash 230 calories 34g carbs 20g sugar 1g protein
  • Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice 210 calories 16g carbs 5g sugar 6g protein
  • Bistro French Onion 200 calories 21g carbs w/croutons 9g sugar 8g protein
  • Turkey Chili 190 calories 22g sugar 6g sugar 14g protein
  • Black Bean 150 calories 28g carbs 1g sugar 11g protein
  • Vegetarian Garden Pesto 130 calories 16g carbs 4g sugar 3g protein
  • Chicken Noodle 80 calories 11g carbs 0g sugar 6g protein
June 28, 2023
Bariatric Recipes Advice, Rants & Support Podcast: Real Talk