My youngest granddaughter turned 9 this weekend and besides the birthday party where she and 8 of her closest friends painted ceramic cups, dolphins, monkeys and other assorted figurines, she wanted her special birthday dinner at grandma and grandpa’s house. This is the one where she picks the meal and can have anything she likes. Well, the girls had pizza and birthday cake for lunch so at least I was saved from that. This child however loves to eat. She is thin as a rail but can pack it away like a longshoreman who has just worked a 12 hour shift. This tiny little flaxen haired princess asked grandma to make her favorite – rare meat and mashed potatoes. By that she means tri-tip on the barbecue, cooked rare and mashed potatoes made with lots of butter and milk. I normally do not make or eat white potatoes. They are one of the foods, like raw vegetables, that I have trouble eating. I learned an important lesson this weekend. I learned what “slider food” really means.
I had always known that anything with dressing or sauce on it goes down easier, but I had no idea how easy mashed potatoes whipped smooth with butter and milk could make the rest of the meal. Normally I can eat about ½ slice of meat which is right. It’s about 2-3 ounces and absolutely all I need, along with some steamed veggies. When you alternate the meat with even tiny bites of mashed potatoes they grease the way for the meat and the meat no longer provides the resistance it usually does. That means I just about sabotage my lap band. Uh oh you say? So did I. I stopped at one full slice of meat but had lots more than the ¼ cup of mashed potatoes I had allotted for myself.
When I was done with my meal I was more than satisfied, but not very happy with myself. Why, after almost 7 years would I ignore all I had learned? Why would I ignore all I try to teach and mentor by example? I really had to stop and think about this one. It actually tortured my brain all weekend. Was it because it tasted so good? Well, it did, but, like so many other foods I am not really sure I was really still tasting it after the second spoonful, let alone the fourth or the fifth. Was it because it was a party, it was dark out, the house was lit up for the holidays and the food was warm and comforting? Probably had something to do with it. Was it because the past week has been a particularly high stress week? That probably contributed to it as well. Are you noticing a pattern here? I did. I noticed that all of my reasons were nothing more than excuses and pretty much unacceptable to me. This occurred on Saturday night, we had our support group annual holiday party on Friday night, and on Sunday I had another family holiday gathering, and this is just the start of the crazy season.
My choices suddenly become pretty clear to me. I can ignore the reality of unlimited food of the slider variety and graze non stop until January, not being accountable for what I eat or, for that matter, what I weigh come January 1, or I can look carefully at my food choices, eat wonderful, tasty food as I have been for the past 6+ years, allow myself some leeway around the holidays, double my workouts at the gym, and start 2011 happy, healthy, and in control of my life.
The cards have been dealt, it’s up to me to play my hand as I choose. My choices determine whether or not I win or lose.
Wow, all of this around some mashed potatoes helping the rest of the meal slide down. Who would have thought?
I have once again reminded myself of some valuable lessons as a result of this experience. These lessons are important for those who are thinking about lap band surgery to understand as they make their decision. This is how I would summarize :
- Choose your foods carefully. Select high quality meals that provide protein and allow you to use the portion control aspect of the band. Avoid foods cooked with lots of fats (butter or otherwise) both because of calories and because they sabotage how the band works by allowing food to “slide” right through. The band can help, but it can’t make your food choices for you.
- Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Have a plan as to how you are going to deal with those situations where the food may be too tempting. For example, I could have simply removed my plate from the table along with my utensils. While putting one serving on my plate and not having second sis my typical plan, removing my plate and utensils would have been my “PlanB” and kept me out of trouble. This has worked many times in the past for me.
- All the reasons in the world why I ate something are nothing more than excuses. I either ate it or not, that is the bottom line. If I ate it, I need to not obsess over it and just deal with the consequences. If I have a weight gain I know what to do, if I’m craving food the next day I also know what to do to counter the effects of eating high carb or high fat foods. The choices as well as the consequences are in my control. I am accountable for my behaviors.
- The greatest lesson of all here is that the band is a great tool and it is in my hands to not only learn how, but to actually practice using this tool.
Armed with all of this I can navigate holiday parties, family dinners, and all sorts of social eating experiences. I just need to stay present to what is happening in the moment and make mindful choices. Since I have my lap band and I’ve spent the last 6+ years becoming an expert at using it, I realize that I am human. I will have my days or even weeks that I fall off the lapbandwagon, but I know how to get back on track and it’s just not as hard as it used to be! I’m going to set short-term goals for this holiday season, use my tool and be accountable.