Mourning Food: Sabrina Shares Her Personal StruggleDecember 21, 2016
I'm a planner, ready for anything. In August 2015, I was ready for my new lease on life. I thought I knew everything possible about RNY Gastric Bypass and my necessary post-op eating plan. I had a plan…or so I thought.
Immediately after my RNY, I didn't want to eat anything. "Sip, sip, sip" was my daily mantra. Until the internal swelling subsided, I was only able to meet my daily protein requirements with protein-rich shakes. After a few weeks, I was allowed very soft foods, yogurt, scrambled eggs and the like. And then it hit me – I can't ever eat like I used to! I could barely eat two bites and BAM; I hit the wall of fullness. Later in the day, again, two bites and FULL.
What was happening here? Was this what my life was reduced to? Would I ever enjoy eating again? No one told me I'd actually be mourning food but I was!
I Missed Food
I grew up like many daughters with Moms that lived in the kitchen. I was blessed at an early age to learn my way around the kitchen and how to make fabulous dishes. Of course, I was the president of the “Clean Plate Club.” Throughout my life, I've enjoyed cooking and baking for friends and family. But shortly after my RNY Gastric Bypass, I suddenly lost my desire to cook. Why should I bother cooking? I must now survive on water and protein shakes. Food means nothing to me now. Then I realized that anger had set in.
Anger towards food is real. Food had always been a comfort to me, or so I thought. But now, I can't enjoy food the way it used to be. Soon after my RNY Gastric Bypass, I began to get angry at my co-workers and even my spouse as I watched them eat. I would even stay in my car while friends or family ate inside fast food restaurants. I stopped going to happy hours and declined dinner invitations because I could not control the situation.
Just four months post-op, I had to travel to China for a month-long work assignment. To make matters worse, it was over Christmas and New Years. Alone. Hot Pot and VERY spicy noodles were main staples in China. I took a bite of noodles and threw them back up. Nothing agreed with my new tummy. For the next 30 days, I lived on protein shakes and scrambled eggs from the hotel's restaurant.
Reaching My Goal Weight
Around eight months post-op, I reached my goal weight. I ate mostly low-excitement food, protein shakes, yogurt, eggs, cheese...I didn't enjoy eating anymore. Reaching my goal was not what I had envisioned it would be. No balloons were falling all over me as I saw the scale number. No trumpets were playing, no celebratory meal. Just me and the scale. I had to change my mind, change my emotions about food. I must take action now, or I'm going to implode.
I made an appointment with a bariatric nutritionist and over the course of a few sessions, we worked out a plan – to cook! Yes, get back in the kitchen. Plan. Prep. Create. My nutritionist assured me that I was going to enjoy food again, more than ever. This time I was going to make tasty and healthy micro meals that I could enjoy all week long. Thank goodness I have two freezers because I make a lot of meals now!
I believe I was one of the lucky ones. Eventually, I realized I needed professional help to identify and regain control of my emotions about food. Currently, I'm 15 months post-op and I still “miss” some foods that I've eliminated from my life; trigger foods that I just don't trust being around.
I don't “mourn” the trigger foods anymore. They no longer have control over me and I've learned, through counseling, how to deal with these emotions. But guess what? I’m eating real food again! And I'm happy again!
I'm back with co-workers and friends and planning ahead of time to attend food-based functions, so I don't lose sight of where I am and all the determination it has taken to get there. I choose to eat mindfully the way my “new” tummy loves. Combined with my active life, weightlifting, kayaking and walking, I now enjoy eating nutritious, protein-rich foods.
Mourning the Loss of Food is Real
For all of you WLS pre-ops out there – mourning the loss of food is REAL! You won't see it coming, but when you are forced to remove and reduce food choices immediately after surgery, your emotions may get the best of you. I highly recommend pre-op meetings with both a nutrition-based counselor AND a bariatric nutritionist (and post-op too if you need them like I did). Learn the signs of food mourning and anger/depression management. Have coping skills in place. And when you are able, get back in the kitchen! Have fun, be creative and enjoy food again!
ABOUT THE AUTHORSabrina Beauchamp, NASM-CPT is a 55 year old RNY Gastric Bypass post-op August 2015. She has lost 90 pounds and a total of 50 inches. Recently she completed a “non-scale victory” by becoming an NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She wants to work along side other WLS patients to help them get off to a positive start with physical fitness.
Read more articles by Sabrina!