Weighty Matters

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Balancing Act

on February 29, 2012

Introducing foods again isn’t all that easy.  Right now, my stomach and I are on a meet and greet with pureed and soft foods.   Even though I didn’t overeat last weekend, I might have reintroduced too many different foods in a couple of days and my system is rebelling by making me queasy in the morning.  It could also be that I’m dehydrating in the sleep hours when I’m not constantly sip sip sipping water.

It is also difficult for me to judge the line between consuming just enough food and taking that one extra bite that overfills my stomach.

Good things do not happen if you overfill the sleeved stomach.  The stomach then wants to send the food right back up again.  I’m not a fan of that action and am determined to avoid it as much as possible.  I don’t want to overeat but overeat has a new measuring stick in this life.   I’ve learned that I can tolerate about three spoonfuls of soup and then I have to put down the spoon.  A couple of half-forkfuls of that baked cheesy-tofu dish is my limit.  One half-forkful too many and I will have to struggle to keep them down.   Since such small quantities can be taken in at once, it’s necessary to space out our “meals” about three hours apart.

Liquids — like protein drinks, milk and water — slide down a little easier.  The good news is that I can start my day off with a protein dense drink for breakfast and it doesn’t take me an hour to consume.  The bad news, as I’ve discovered, is that it is more difficult for me to assess my own fullness after liquid.

The information and guidelines I’ve received suggest that we stop drinking about 30 minutes before any meal.  So there’s another aspect to the balancing act.  It’s important to stay hydrated with 64 to 100 oz of fluids a day.  To do that, we are told to sip sip sip sip regularly throughout the day.  However, we need to remember about halting all the sip sip sipping in time for our stomachs to empty enough to take in the small meal.

It’s a difficult thought process.  I mean, really, for over 50 years I’ve combined eating and drinking at the same time.  Now to have to totally adjust that thinking and experience takes some doing.

This morning I had an early dental appointment.  I got up, had my protein shake, and then filled up my 24 oz water glass so that I could commence the day’s sipping on my way to the dentist’s office (about 25 minutes from home) and continue when I went from there to work.  (About 45 minutes.)  I felt rather proud of my dedication to the hydration guidelines.

When I arrived at work, about three hours had passed since my morning protein drink.  I felt a little hungry and unwrapped a cheese stick.  I broke it into pieces and slowly chewed each piece, taking my time.

Unfortunately, I soon realized that I  hadn’t actually taken enough time between my last sips of water on the ride from the dentist and my snack.  Within a minute of finishing the cheese, my body telegraphed distress signals.  Without going into graphic detail, I’m sure you can imagine the symptoms that indicate your body’s about to revolt.   A friend was sitting talking with me in my office at the time.  I gracefully excused myself and got to the restroom in time.  Easy come easy go on that cheese stick.

Another lesson learned.  Drinking lots of water in a stream of sips does not mean that I will register that I’m full, so I really need to successfully balance the time between drinking and eating.   I need to learn my sleeve’s boundaries so that I find the balance between eating enough for good nutrition and eating too much in a way that makes me sick.

As I work on learning the physical parts of the balancing act, I also need to deal with the frustration of not always getting things right from the get-go.  It’s a process, and one that requires me retraining myself.  I’m leaving behind the habits of a lifetime and embracing a whole new way to do things.   I can do it, but I need to accept that it might take me a while to find my balance.


9 responses to “Balancing Act

  1. kellig says:

    i just wanted to second pinkpelicans suggestion for using alarms, either on your phone, or a wrist watch. the benefits of the phone is that you can set different tones for meals, supplements, etc. the timer/alarms were a huge help when I was changing my eating habits.

    i enjoy your posts very much. i love your positive outlook. and thanks to your tai chi post, i just signed up for a local class. starts tomorrow. very excited.

    • Mary Stella says:

      I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought of setting different alarms for different things but maybe I’ll start with just a couple and see if I can work my way into the technique.

      Oh, good luck for Tai Chi. Be patient because it might feel weird at first and, sometimes, a little frustrating while you’re learning the moves. As you go along, however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when it all starts to come to you more naturally.

      Please check back and let us know how it’s going!

  2. Lorie says:

    I truly love your posts and the comments you get are so informative! That’s awesome! All the changes seem daunting sometimes, but the result is so worth it. It’s a huge change. You are doing so well and with minimal complications. Isn’t that awesome? Thank you for your informative posts and insights to life after surgery.

  3. robenagrant says:

    Thanks for the insight into this. You know, it even helps me with the small changes I’ve made this year. Got awfully nauseuos after taking a couple of vitamin pills together (one was general one for eyes) also, I guess my stomach has shrunk a bit (I’m down almost ten pounds) and thought I was getting a weird response if I eat too much. I think it’s the liquid volume because I was drinking a full glass of water before meals, and then at least one more with dinner. I’m going to reduce that and see what happens. Thanks.

  4. pinkpelican says:

    Ditto what Thea said.

    Remember that the protein shake counts as fluid as well as protein; so does soup. If you factor those into your overall fluid count, you might find you don’t have to push the water as hard and it might give you a little relief. (If you are already doing this, never mind …)

    Here’s some stuff that’s working for me (YMMV, so blow it off if it doesn’t work for you …)

    I have found that a scale helped me tremendously, early in the process. One ounce of food, two ounces of food, no more. Then, after I take the last bite, wait 5 minutes. Am I full? Am I sure? Am I comfortable or not? If I’m comfortable, if I still want more, I have to get up to get it. Just take your spoon or fork, take one more bite, put everything away (rather than taking your plate/bowl & dumping more out onto it). If you remain comfortable, that’s great. If not, you know where on the ounce-by-weight you need to stay. Sometimes having hard & fast numbers to go by can be very helpful.

    I also find that speed of eating will set off the nausea, even if you don’t eat too much. I put down the fork between bites. And often, I’ll use a clock to help me. I make myself wait 2 minutes between bites. I’ve found that helps me from snarfling down everything on my plate in 2 minutes and then being miserable. Waiting lets me finish a reasonable (for me) serving without discomfort, & helps my head pay attention to the physical sensations.

    One of the head things I’ve been working on is, “This is America. Pick a small portion first. There’s more food available less than 5 minutes away from wherever I am. I can always get more.” At home, my refrain is, “The fridge is just 10 feet away. Start with 2 ounces. If I want more, all I have to do is take a few steps.”

    That has helped me a lot. I limit my “first helping” (at this point 2.5 to 4.0 ounces depending on what it is) of a meal. At work, I keep sliced deli cheese & peanut butter available, so if I’m still hungry or need a snack & can’t leave work, I can grab something easily and take a bite or two.

    My biggest bugaboo has been dealing with the supplements. Calcium 3 times a day; multivitamins with iron that can’t be taken too close to the calcium because they both use the same receptors & will cancel each other out. Birth control (I prefer pills to thingies). Supplemental B vitamins. Prescription antacid …

    I finally figured out a schedule for everything, so nothing cancels anything out & nothing makes me ill (I have to take 2 multivitamins a day, but have learned I can’t take them both at the same time or they make me nauseous, so I have to schedule one with one meal & one with another).

    Once I figured out that schedule (plus meal times …), I actually set up alarms on my phone. My damn phone goes off every three freakin’ hours, & I’m having to get up on weekend mornings early enough to maintain a meal & pill schedule, but it’s mostly working. I’m getting everything in. And as much as I complain sometimes, I am so grateful that I can actually swallow whole pills again (crushing them up & trying to mix them in with food/drink was horrible; I was actually more excited at 6 week post-op when the doc said I could take whole pills than I was by the weight loss, LOL). I have broader schedules for my water; I just try to finish a 20 oz bottle of water (or equivalent) before lunch, before dinner, & then again before bed, which gets me close enough.

    I still order water with my meals (at restaurants) or keep the bottle near me (at home). That’s mostly for the occasions when something goes down wrong or my throat gets dry. I was surprised at how fast I adjusted to not actually drinking with my meals.

    • Mary Stella says:

      These are all great tips. Thank you!

      • pinkpelican says:

        You’re welcome. It’s all do-able so far, it just takes practice & patience. Lately, I’m discovering that, at 6 months out, when I think about meals (meal planning, scouring the fridge for leftovers, going out to eat), AUTOMATICALLY, the first thing I think about is protein. What kind of meat do I want? Where can I get an egg? Will cheese make a difference? THEN I think about what I WANT.

        It’s kind of cool, when you discover you’ve created new (and positive) thought patterns and they are taking root in your head. Whenever I do, I try to work on reinforcing it so it will become so ingrained that, down the line, I’ll be less likely to revert to old, bad habits. ;=)

  5. lunarmom says:

    The learning is so slow sometimes, isn’t it?
    I’m trying to reconfigure mine as well, changing habits and patterns that I’ve lived with for 50 years. There is progress, but it’s the teensiest steps!

  6. Thea says:

    You’re paying attention — that’s a win!

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