Cookie Fix

May 10, 2009

Bear with me while I first provide some background info--I promise that I will talk about Cookies!

I was at a raw foods place that sells these dessert balls. They have several flavors--they are round and the size of large chocolate truffles. I bought a flavor called Cinnamon Raisin Crunch which consisted of only: walnuts, cinnamon bark, raisins, and raw honey. I had to try them. They were sort of like an Oatmeal Cookie--or the dough, actually. They were expensive though, and so instead of buying them again, I decided to make my version at home, with some ingredient variations. Here's what I did:

I put some walnuts in food processor and process till they form little pea-sized clumps. Added cinnamon and some kosher salt. Processed till combined with walnuts. Added some agave nectar (started with a little, add more as needed to form cookie dough consistency), processed again. Added oatmeal, process again. Formed batter into balls. Refrigerate. Eat. Enjoy

You can also add raisins, and walnut pieces to the batter if you'd like a crunchier cookie. I didn't have raisins so I left them out.

I tried dehydrating them instead of baking them but the lowest setting on my oven is 170 F, too hot for raw foods. Fortunate for me that I don't mind cooked foods! So, I let the over pre-heat to it's lowest temperature and then baked the "cookie balls" for about 1/2 hour. Then I let them cool overnight.

A flourless cookie that satisfied my oatmeal cooking craving. Goes well with a cup of tea.

Electrolyte drink w/o sugars

May 03, 2009

Recently I've been thinking about electrolytes because summer is coming, and also because I have low blood pressure and I get lightheaded/dizzy when I stand up from a sitting position. My mom (an MD) suggested I look into them because of this. My internist had actually recommended that I add some salt to my diet.

I found an electrolyte drink w/o sugars (and with NO artificial sweeteners, etc) at Whole Foods. It is called Ultima Replenisher. The flavors are:

Banana Berry
Wild Raspberry

So far the only one I have tried is the Lemonade (which I liked). They come in individual packets as well as tubs, but since I'm just trying them for the first time,  I bought the individual packets of all the flavors so I can see which ones I prefer.

ALSO, I'm trying coconut water, which is said to be a good electrolyte drink.

Way better, IMO, than whole wheat tortillas!

May 03, 2009

I find that no matter what I do the flour tortillas are too "doughy" for my taste. I've tried the Mission brand of low-carb whole wheat tortillas and I hated them. Also, I can't say that I like the ingredients list--they have a lot of ingredients in them that are "food lab" ingredients and being a Michael Pollan "eat real food" gal, I tend to shy away from these kinds of things. (But then, I don't do Splenda either).

Pre-op I had always preferred corn tortillas over flour (and I have my NUTs blessing to eat them, she actually thinks they are better than the flour ones--long story).

I've found a nice substitute for the whole wheat flour tortillas that I find are MUCH easier to make crisp than the flour tortillas

-- whole wheat lavosh (try an ethnic grocer, Whole Foods, Trader Joes)
-- a product called Mountain Bread  (which is very similar to lavosh) look on their website for retailers in your area

I find that both of these come out very nicely as a base for pizzas for me as they are much crispier than the flour tortillas (and they are thinner too--so you can either eat less of them, or you get more "surface area" for the same calories). And I was thinking it could make a really nice crust for mini-quiches by putting them in muffin tins....










Probiotics weight loss after bypass surgery

Mar 22, 2009

Just parking this article here so I can find it again when I need it. (I have tried to copy/paste the text of the article several times but it doesn't seem like it's working. All I can seem to manage is to post the link. I will try a few more times to get the text in there before I give up!)

Probiotics weight loss after bypass surgery

Thu May 22, 2008 3:55pm EDT  


By Martha Kerr

SAN DIEGO (Reuters Health) - In a study conducted at Stanford University, obese patients who took probiotics after undergoing gastric bypass surgery lost more weight than patients who had the surgery but did not take the supplements.

These findings were presented Tuesday during Digestive Disease Week 2008 by Dr. John M. Morton, during a session on the management of patients with obesity.

"We have better treatments for crack cocaine addiction than we do for obesity," Dr. Morton asserted, "but there has been a real revolution with bariatric (obesity) surgery. It provides strikingly durable weight loss...As a result, blood pressures will normalize...We have seen diabetes cure rates of 82 percent, and this can occur within weeks of surgery."

According to the World Health Organization: "probiotics are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit." Most probiotics are bacteria similar to the type normally found the people's guts, the "good" bacteria, which helps maintain a balance in the digestive tract and may confer natural protection against disease. The most common probiotics taken as supplements are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

The trial involved 44 patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery and were randomly assigned to receive either 2.4 billion lactobacilli daily or no probiotic therapy for the next 6 months. Quality of life, hydrogen (H2) breath tests, vitamin B12 levels and weight were measured before surgery and at 3 and 6 months afterward.

At six months, the probiotic group had lower H2 breath tests, lower fasting insulin, lipoprotein A and triglyceride levels, and higher HDL cholesterol levels compared with the placebo group, although the differences were not statistically significant.

There was, however, a significantly greater improvement in quality of life in patients taking probiotics compared with those taking placebo.

"What was surprising was that probiotic patients lost more weight after surgery," Morton told Reuters Health. The study group lost 70 percent of their excess weight after 6 months compared with a loss of 66 percent of excess weight in controls.

He added, "This suggests that the cause of the weight increase may be bacterial...and may help explain the observation that fat people have fat friends...Some of it may be environmental and related to social factors, but it may also be related to high bacteria levels in some way."

"We know that probiotics have to be live cultures and you have to (ingest) a minimum of two billion colonies a day," Morton said. "We don't know exactly which probiotic organisms are best and how much to recommended...The populations vary. They are different in the gut flora in different patient types."

At the very least, probiotics are safe, Morton said. "There doesn't seem to be any downside to taking them," he added.


Easy way out, grueling, or somewhere in between?

Mar 13, 2009

I see this "easy way out" topic brought up a lot on OH, usually the post goes something like this:

I'm ticked off that so-and-so thinks that I took the "easy way out", but WLS has been the hardest thing I've ever done.

So it got me thinking about my own WLS experience. (My intention isn't to "make anyone wrong" here, but rather, to report on my own post-op experiences.)

I have to say, for me, WLS has, so far, has not been partiuclarly grueling. While the weight loss has been dramatic, everything else in my post-op experience has been, honestly, uneventful. I am not suffering. My experience hasn't been excruciating. Now, if I was having complications, couldn't tolerate foods--yeah, things might be a LOT harder, and I am grateful to be free of these potential problems.

Perhaps my seeming "ease" as a post-op is due to the fact that I was already working out regularly and eating healthy as a pre-op. I had worked regularly with a dietitian for a few years pre-op, and I do feel that I learned and was able to incorporate a ton into my life when it comes to eating. Without that knowledge, I think life as a post-op would have been mich harder.

Or perhaps I am not giving myself credit and tend to downplay my own efforts as a post-op. And if I'd had complications post-op, or had major food addiction issues (I probably have some minor ones, but garden variety stuff) then I probably wouldn't be having such a relatively "easy" time of it.

I mean, yeah, I work out several times a week (strength train w/trainer 2x/week, Pilates training 1x/ week, Gyrotonics 1x/week,  physical therapy 1x/week, and then cardio, which has been slow lately due to gallbladder surgery). And thanks to the work I've done with my Nut, I eat healthy stuff. I've learned to eat intuitively and I don't track what I eat. But certainly there is room for improvement in both areas--I am far from perfect. The hardest part of it for me has been the darned vitamins.

My smaller stomach and re-routed intestines have definitely made things easier for me. For me WLS has been a blessing. It is much easier for me to loose weight now than it was before. I don't feel that there is anything less "worthy" about my weight loss because of the way I'm achieving it.  I had a metabolic issue (PCOS and insulin resistance) that WLS "cures", and as expected, I'm losing weight. For me, WLS has been, perhaps not the "easy way out", but rather, an "easier way", and I am grateful for having the opportunity and access to it.

My only regrets are that it took a long time for me to start living a healthy lifestyle, had I developed these habits earlier in life I would probably nipped the problem in the bud before I got MO. That, and I wish I'd known about WLS sooner--I would have done it  when things really started getting bad. Oh well, it is still a blessing so I am glad I did it.
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Gallbladder surgery

Mar 07, 2009

So, I had my gallbladder taken out this past Thursday. It was a long day. My surgery was scheduled for 11am (I was supposed to  arrive at the hospital at 9, but wound up getting there early as traffic was light.) After waiting in the pre-op bed for a while, an OR nurse came in to tell me that there was about a 3 hour delay due to the current procedure that Dr. Quilici was doing had become unexpectedly complicated. So I wound up going into the OR around 3:30. 

I was much less nervous this time around then when I had my RNY. I didn't get nervous until I was in the OR. I hadn't needed any Versed (nor did the anesthesiologist offer me any in pre-op) until I was in the OR. She told me she was going to give me some at that point and I was glad because seeing all the instruments in the OR did make me a little nervous. But just a little.

I woke up in recovery and couldn't wait to get some ice chips. Who knew ice chips could be so yummy. After a little while I was brought over to the "short stay" area. I saw Dr. Quilici briefly and asked him how my GB looked, and he said he could see scar tissue on it and that there was evidence of GB attacks. (Thank goodness I hadn't experienced a high degree of pain!). After an hour in short stay, I was allowed to go home.

On the way home, at one point I thought I might throw up in the car, but I managed not to. The first night home was pretty easy and I felt alright.

The next day, Friday, I started to feel a little blah...lot of aches and pains in my muscles. I thought it might be from walking (doctor's orders). But my dad, who is an anesthesiologist, told me that there is a specific anesthetic which is used frequently in ambulatory surgery, and that there was a decent chance it was used on me. Muscle aches are a common side effect of this med.  I also have a sore throat. Probably from being intubated. I hope so, because it would be a bummer if I'm coming down with something.

I walked more today, mainly at the farmers' market. I didn't really buy much, I'm feeling a little worn out and don't expect to cook much, not yet anyway.

Part of me feels guilty, that I'm being too easy on myself. I feel like I should be back at the gym, which is probably ridiculous. It's too soon. I guess because others said that their GB surgery/recovery was such a piece of cake that I feel like I need to be some sort of super-hero.  But it isn't going to happen, I'm tired and achy. But I'm sure it will get better soon.

Upcoming gallbladder surgery

Mar 02, 2009

I'm having my gallbladder removed on Thursday.

I had just seen Dr. Quilici (actually, Dr. McVay, one of his assistants) for a check-up in late January. I had mentioned to her that I was slightly nauseous in the mornings, and she asked if I was pregnant and I knew that I wasn't. But we didn't focus too much on it.

When the symptoms continued, I called Dr. Q's office and was told to come back in. This time I saw Dr. Q himself. I told him my symptoms--basically, loss of appetite especially in the mornings. I hadn't been interested in food at all until after lunch time. I didn't exactly feel like I was going to throw up, but just felt averse to food--even the idea of some of my favorite foods made me feel tinges of queasiness.

Dr. Q asked if I had any other pain, and I had forgotten (until he asked) about some pains I'd had in my back. I had thought they were from working out. He asked me to show him exactly where the pain was, and I motioned to my mid-back (rib cage area, beneath the bra line) and he said that this is an area where the gallbladder can manifest symtoms.

I had an ultrasound and I've got 2 gallstones (at least, that they can see). It will be interesting to find out after surgery what condition my GB is in and how "bad" it was.

I hear from others who have had their GB removed that the symptoms of a GB attack can be extremely painful, so I am glad that I am getting mine out before it gets to that point.

Portion control: changing out Mugs for Tea Cups...

Feb 23, 2009

I had a really cool set of mugs that I used for hot beverages... tea for me and coffee for my guests. But, in keeping with the "aha moment" that I'd had at Starbucks (see post below), I realized that the large size of my mug was encouraging me to have bigger portions of tea than I needed or even wanted.  And while I do use a few natural low calorie sweeteners in my tea (I choose not to use artificial sweeteners), they are not 100% calorie free, and in any case, my NUT has suggested to me that it would be helpful for me to learn to like things less sweet.

Since switching to tea cups (7 oz capacity), I find that I actually drink all my tea now--before when I was using mugs I would often leave some of my drink unfinished--and since tea doesn't taste all that good reheated (in my opinion, and anyway, I don't have a microwave at home) it meant I was wasting my ingredients--in effect pouring the extra ingredients used (extra tea leaves, sweetener and milk) down the drain.

And these days, when eating away from home, if I am "stuck" using a mug, I still only make enough tea to fill my tea cup--in effect leaving my mug half-full. Besides the portion control, I find it's good for avoiding spills.


Portion Control and "Unit Bias"

Feb 23, 2009

I was reading about something called "Unit Bias" which affects our culturally acceptable concepts of what constitutes a properly sized portion. The article is below, but first, an example from my own life:

At Starbucks, when ordering a cup of tea, the baristas ask "how many tea bags." I'd always get one, and it came in their "default" Tall sized cup, which is 12 oz. But according brewing instructions on most packages of tea bags, a singular, standard sized tea bag is best brewed with 6, maybe 8 ounces of water--more that that and it makes a weak tasting tea.

It turns out that Starbucks has a size called a Short, and this cup is 8 ounces, though for a cup of tea, it is the same price to order a Short or a Tall. Perhaps Starbucks offers the Tall as their "standard" size (instead of a Short) to give their customers a sense of value for their money.

But I'd really rather have a smaller cup of tea -- even pre-op it was hard for me to finish the 12 ounce size--now it's even harder. Also,
I realized that a smaller cup means I use less of my no-calorie natural sweetener and less milk.  (I believe that when plain, tea has negligible calories, but still, I like to use the least amount of sweetener possible even if it is calorie free--this way I retrain my tastebuds to prefer things less sweet.)

The tea situation at Starbucks was a good teaching tool for me in unit bias. It has helped me be more aware of portion sizes, both at home and eating out.

Anyway, here is an interesting article from a few years ago that explains unit bias. 

How Much Is Too Much?
'Unit Bias' May Be Leading Americans To Eat Too Much

(AP) How many M&MS are enough?

It depends on how big the candy scoop is.

At least that's a key factor, says a study that offers new evidence that people take cues from their surroundings in deciding how much to eat.

It explains why, for example, people who used to be satisfied by a 12-ounce can of soda may now feel that a 20-ounce bottle is just right.

It's "unit bias," the tendency to think that a single unit of food — a bottle, a can, a plateful, or some more subtle measure — is the right amount to eat or drink, researchers propose.

"Whatever size a banana is, that's what you eat, a small banana or a big banana," says Andrew Geier of the University of Pennsylvania. And "whatever's served on your plate, it just seems locked in our heads: that's a meal."

The overall idea is hardly new to diet experts. They point to the supersizing of fast food and restaurant portions as one reason for the surge of obesity in recent decades. They sometimes suggest that dieters use smaller plates to reduce the amount of food that looks like a meal.

But in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, Geier and colleagues dig into why people are so swayed by this unit idea when they decide how much to eat.

Geier, a Ph.D. candidate who works with people who are overweight or who have eating disorders, figures people learn how big an appropriate food unit is from their cultures. For example, yogurt containers in French supermarkets are a bit more than half the size of their American counterparts. Yet French shoppers don't make up the difference by eating more containers of the stuff, he noted.

He and the other researchers tried a series of experiments using environmental cues to manipulate people's ideas of how big a food unit is.

In one, they put a large bowl with a pound of M&Ms in the lobby of an upscale apartment building with a sign: "Eat Your Fill ... please use the spoon to serve yourself." The candy was left out through the day for 10 days, sometimes with a spoon that held a quarter-cup, and other times with a tablespoon.

Sure enough, people consistently took more M&Ms on days when the bigger scoop was provided, about two-thirds more on average than when the teaspoon was present.

In another experiment, a snacking area in an apartment building contained a bowl with either 80 small Tootsie Rolls or 20 big ones, four times as large. Over 10 working days, the bowl was filled with the same overall weight of candy each day. But people consistently removed more, by weight, when it was offered in the larger packages.

In those experiments, as well as a similar one with pretzels, "unit bias" wasn't the only thing that produced the differences in consumption levels, but it had an influence, Geier and colleagues concluded.

Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab and author of the forthcoming book "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," called the new paper an impressive demonstration of the effect in a real-world setting. He has done similar work but didn't participate in Geier's research.

So can all this help dieters?

Some food companies are introducing products in 100-calorie packages, and Geier thinks that could help hold down a person's consumption. He also suspects companies could help by displaying the number of servings per container more prominently on their packaging.

As for what dieters can do on their own, Geier said one of his overweight patients offered a suggestion for restaurant visits: Request that the meal be split in two in the kitchen, with half on the plate and the other half packaged to take home.

In any case, an earlier experiment of Geier's shows that the unit bias effect has its limits.

He had one dining hall at his university provide 10-ounce glasses for soda, and a second provide 16-ounce glasses. He predicted that students at the first hall would drink less soda. In fact, they drank more.

Only later did he find out what went wrong.

"They were taking two glasses at a time," he said. "I guess I went below what is culturally construed as a unit of soda."

About Me
La La Land, CA
Surgery Date
May 09, 2008
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