If you want to live a healthy lifestyle it’s imperative to dump your unhealthy habits. It’s easy to develop bad habits. It’s hard to change our bad habits and once changed even harder to maintain the good ones. Kevin had an experience this past Friday he wishes to not repeat. He was excited to have his first round of blood work since his surgery in the hopes his A1C levels were down to less than 5.7%; aka normal meaning his diabetes is in full remission. Since his surgery he has discontinued all his diabetes medications and his daily blood sugar levels have been normal. This is the good news, great actually.However, on Friday his excitement soon turned to dread. His blood work consisted of fasting that morning. I knew if he didn’t eat he would crash. I suggested he take a protein drink with him to the lab so he could get something in his stomach after the blood draw. He said, “Yep that’s what I was planning to do.” I replied, “Cool!” Needless to say, he forgot his protein drink! Not a good idea. By the time he arrived home it was after 10 a.m. He was in a hurry to log back into his computer for work, but he was starving. He quickly grabbed a protein drink and in a matter of less than a minute downed it! He was still feeling hungry after the protein drink and ate a spoonful or two of cottage cheese. Which was a very big NO, NO! His brain said, “I can do this, eat fast, eat standing up, and eat on the run. I know what I’m doing.” His new stomach disagreed, and said, “Oh, what did I just do? I feel sick!” Houston we had a major problem!
We were reminded at every doctor appointment the consequences of keeping the old habits of shoving food down, eating while standing, and eating on the run. The doctor looked him in the eye and said, “You will never eat the same again. You can never put too much all at once in your stomach or it will cause a dumping syndrome.” Dumping syndrome is when you put too much in your stomach at once and it all comes back up, and you dump what you’ve just eaten. He’s been reminded to take it slow and enjoy his food. He is still eating puree food until July 1st so his stomach is still relatively new. He can’t do what he did with his “old” stomach as what he’s doing with his “new” stomach. When I arrived home from work and saw he looked a bit green I asked, “Are you ok?” He said, “No. I just got a taste dumping syndrome.” His stomach hurt, it was too full, he was vomiting, and some heaving for about 1-2 hours. He realized his old habits of grabbing food and downing it was no longer an option.
Old habits are hard to break. The brain says, “Go ahead. It will be ok You’ve done this before.” But the body says, “Hey, you have a new stomach and it’s not ok.” If you want to make changes you have to follow all the rules. Rule number 1: Eat slowly. Rule number 2: Eat at the table sitting down. Rule number 3: Eat small amounts, and rule number 4: remember your protein drink before leaving the house for lab work. Dumping the old habits are not fun, but you can learn to retrain your brain and implement good eating habits. Your health is the key to life’s riches.
Last week I gave a short background of how we reached the decision for gastric bypass surgery. There is more to the process than just making the decision for weight loss surgery. This was one of the most major decisions in our life. We both learned lessons on how to take care of our body, mind, and soul through this process. Even though I said the reason behind the surgery in the first place was the “failed liver panel” and the CAT scan that showed a “Fatty liver.” Now those events got his attention to make some serious changes. The surgery itself was very successful and his energy has returned so much that I have a hard time keeping up with him. So week one has been somewhat uneventful, nonetheless it’s been a huge change and learning curve.On Monday Kevin had ditched all the pain medication and was feeling fantastic. He went back to work and looked and felt like he hadn’t skipped a beat. If you saw him you would never know he had surgery a few days ago. He was feeling that well. The changes when he came home were clear it was still going to be an uphill battle with food and the consumption of it. During the past week Kevin needed a few gentle reminders to take it slow…Not to rush drinking his protein drink, or Gatorade, and water. There is a reprogramming that has to happen. The surgery is a tool to begin reprogramming how you eat, how much you consume, and how you feel about food in general. This is where we need to be mindful of our eating habits.
In order to be mindful you must pay close attention to what is put to your lips. Rule of thumb is protein first. The protein will fill you up and satisfy you. You won’t get the cravings of wanting more shortly after finishing a meal that is heavy in carbohydrates. The protein takes a while to digest, where the carbs will leave you hungry and wanting more. To be mindful of what you eat ask yourself, “Did I just ingest protein first? Protein comes in many forms. We get protein from meats, chicken, fish, eggs, tuna, dairy, and other sources. You can also get a great amount of protein by mixing up a protein drink with different flavors. One of my favorites is Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries or raspberries. Plus it’s healthy for you and fills you up without wanting more in less than an hour. I use a cool free app on my phone called “Lose it” that helps me track my protein, carb, fat, and calorie intake daily. This has helped me get on track and stay on track. It is now a habit at every meal time to measure how much I’m eating and what nutritional value I’m receiving. It’s being mindful of what you are ingesting. And I have lost weight and feel good.
As for Kevin he has been on the journey of reprogramming his eating habits and becoming more aware and mindful of not just what he eats but how he eats. After surgery and beyond you have to take every bite very slow. Learn to enjoy ever bite of you food. We haven’t reached the point of “real food” yet as we are still on a liquid diet until Thursday. On Thursday we advance to puree’ food for the next 4 weeks, and that comes with more challenges as we begin to re-introduce food into his new stomach and how much is enough. The point is not to rush and take the process slow. The good news is he is already down 5 pounds this week and I am down 4 lbs. Being mindful of your eating habits is exciting, and wellness is the key to a rich life.