It has been 2 1/2 months since I had gastric sleeve surgery and it has been 10 weeks of learning how to eat. Seriously, eating has been a full-time job that has gotten progressively more difficult to manage. For the first two weeks I continued on a liquid diet that consisted mostly of Kaizen chocolate meal replacement drinks. I continue to use this product when I need a quick breakfast. If I am going running I may add a frozen banana or powdered peanut butter to amp up the caloric value. Foods like this are very easy to include in my daily diet but they are also highly processed, expensive, and not always easy to access.
The second phase of post-op food included pureed foods about 1/4 cup at a time. A favourite dish was skyr yogurt blended with lox - high in protein, flavour, and the texture of salmon mousse. I also consumed a lot of Happy Planet soup, blended with Kaizen unflavoured protein powder (add protein powder after heating to avoid texture change). Fruit and yogurt protein smoothies were also a great way to get food and calories into my system.
The third phase of post-op eating were soft solids, which felt like the first time in 10 weeks that I was able to food that I had to chew!! This stage of the post-op diet lasted three weeks and included things like canned tuna, cottage cheese with salsa, ground chicken or beef, and Indian curries. Poached eggs with avocado became a favourite breakfast - I can still only eat 1 poached egg and 1/4 an avocado at a time.
I am now in the regular gastric sleeve diet, which means that I prioritize protein, limit sugar and processed foods, and try to maintain a diet of 1100 calories/day consisting of: 75+ g of protein, <65 g of carbs, and >15 g of fibre. I am also to take (I'm still struggling with this) Vitamin D, B12, Calcium, a prenatal vitamin, iron, and if necessary a stool softener daily. I'm doing much better at remembering to eat properly than I am at remembering to take all the pills. This is my short-term goal...remember to take all the freaking pills (12/day). This also means that I don't eat big salads as they have little nutrient/protein/calories to add to the mix!
The other major change that I made pre-op and post-op is a new focus on physical fitness. A friend in South Africa (Gareth Evans) convinced me to train for the Two-Oceans 1/2 Marathon and I joined the Steve Nash gym in Nanaimo. I waited as long as I possibly could before returning to physical activity (4 weeks) and started off slow - walking around Westwood Lake. At the 5 week mark I returned to the gym and paid close attention to how my body felt when lifting weights - I also started off lighter than I would normally go and worked with a trainer (Josh). A close friend and skilled runner, Dr. Audrey Giles at the University of Ottawa, has signed on as my running and accountability coach. Most weeks I get 2-3 runs (needs to be 3-4) and 2-3 workouts at the gym.
All in all - it has been a crazy few months of adjustment that isn't close to be over. I've learned that eating out is a challenge (wasted food and lots of menu changes) but family style dining is awesome. It allows me to sample a number of dishes and not over eat. I've learned the pitfalls of not planning ahead - I don't feel hungry so it isn't until my energy crashes that I really get the message. I also discovered the real need to ensure that my calorie intake is good prior to exercise...lightheaded trail running isn't a good thing! Most of all I have learned just how many supporters I have and how interested people really are in this journey. I will attempt to do better at more regular posts - I will also post about some of the less positive lessons in the next one!
Who Am I?
There are many different ways to describe myself but for the purposes of this blog...I'm a 45 year old woman who is finally prioritizing her health and wellbeing. I'm also a professor, researcher, and avid traveller but have spent much of my adult life being defined (in whole or part) by my weight.