My Struggle with Food

As a morbidly obese person, it’s probably no surprise that I have a problem with food. I love food and I love the fellowship that happens around food and eating. For some reason, though, I thought some of this would change with weight loss surgery. Don’t get me wrong, my opinions on some foods has definitely changed, but my daily struggle with food has remained the same. The struggles may look a little different, but they are struggles nonetheless. If you’re considering weight loss surgery, just keep in mind, your relationship with food will change in some ways and stay exactly the same in other ways. Let me explain…

“A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.” ~Unknown

As we all know, I didn’t get to 370 lbs by having a great, healthy relationship with food. I mean, there is some degree of truth to it that I was living a sedentary lifestyle, but the majority of my weight came on because I like to eat…and I like to eat all the wrong stuff. Growing up, I can remember having a sugary cereal for breakfast, lunch at school, a sandwich and chips for snack after school, and then dinner. I drank sugary sodas and I was never really encouraged to get any exercise. When I was in Junior High, my mom put us on a diet and tried to change the way we looked at food. She would give us a little bit better snacks for after school and healthier breakfast choices. She would give us choices at dinner that would mean we could have a second chicken breast or half a potato. The chicken breast was bigger so we would most likely pick that and that was her goal, I guess.

I honestly don’t remember how long that “diet” lasted, but I don’t think the information “stuck”. The only real change that I remember it making in my life is that I switched from drinking sugary sodas to diet sodas. Ugh!

As a teen and young adult, I didn’t pay much attention to my weight and just ate what I wanted most of the time. I was never a lover of vegetables or salad back then so what I was consuming was in no way healthy. I lost a lot of weight my senior year because I simply wouldn’t eat all day or I would have a Snickers and a Diet Coke for lunch and pizza or a sandwich for dinner. Even though I looked like I was getting healthy, I was not. I just wasn’t eating for the most part because I was going to school and work and just didn’t make the time to eat. Again, not healthy in a different way.

As an adult, and when I went off to college, I gave up. I was in a deep depression – before I had a name for my depression – and I just ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I packed on the pounds and didn’t really care. I didn’t know how to stop it or I just didn’t care to stop it. My favorite foods included anything from McDonalds or Burger King (the bigger the burger, the better) and ice cream or chocolate. I didn’t think about the effects it was having on my body and it didn’t phase me when I had to buy bigger clothes. Maybe deep down inside I was a little worried, but obviously I didn’t care enough about myself to stop it.

When I met Howard, I was around 320 lbs. He was overweight as well and we were in the same place emotionally. We were starving for a relationship that meant something, but honestly, we were both in a committed relationship with food. Our times together consisted of figuring out what we were going to eat at our next meal or grocery shopping. We had thoughts of losing weight, especially when I got pregnant, but the food just took over. Being a chef, Howard loves to cook for someone else. It is his passion. So, he wanted to “show off” his skills to me and cook for me often. He did make sure that I ate a little healthier during my pregnancy because we both wanted a healthy baby, but toward the end of my pregnancy, all I craved was cheeseburgers so that’s pretty much all I ate. I lost weight while I was pregnant, but quickly gained it back and more after giving birth.

In 2010, Howard and I embarked on a journey of losing weight. We were serious and our pastor supported us going to a weight loss center where Howard lost 160 lbs and I lost 90 lbs. We were the smallest we had ever seen each other and it was a good time. We started exercising at some point during this time, but we were never really serious about it. When Howard struggled to get under 300 and I was struggling to get under 250, we started to get back into our old ways. We would give ourselves “cheat days” on Thursday evenings after our weigh in. We would eat on Thursday evening, which would turn into Friday, then Saturday, and then eat a big meal at my dad’s on Sunday, then buckle down on Monday through Wednesday again. I can only imagine the havoc we played on our metabolisms and our bodies just didn’t know what to do. It’s the struggle with food that we both have that was taking over once again.

By 2012, we were both back to our morbidly obese selves and eating ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. We would try off and on to get back on track, but the damage had been done.

As you know, Howard and I had weight loss surgery at the end of 2015 (Howard 8/17/15, me 12/30/15) with hopes that our lives would change forever. On one hand, our lives have definitely changed for the better, but on the other hand, we are still dealing with the daily struggle with food. According to my surgeon, I should be eating small meals/snacks every two hours when I’m awake. On some days, I do a good job of this. I take snacks to work with me and I eat on the odd hours, drink on the even hours, but on other days I just don’t feel like eating at all. On some days, my snacks/meals are full of protein and healthy for me and on other days, I eat onion rings (my latest overwhelming craving) or fried chicken strips. I still eat sweets from time to time (last night it was ice cream) and I still eat bread and pasta on some days. We have a hard time at the grocery store because our buying habits just haven’t met up with our eating habits.

Howard hasn’t quite figured out how to cook for our small stomachs yet and going out is impossible. We end up coming home with full meals because we can’t agree on something to share and then we just eat on it for days. My appetite is still huge even though my stomach is not so I occasionally overeat, although after throwing up often, I have stopped the overeating for the most part. I just simply still struggle with food on a daily basis.

I knew going into weight loss surgery that the gastric sleeve was just a tool and that I would have to work hard at losing weight. I am working hard at my exercise routine, but my food routine is just not there yet. I mean, on Saturday I burned 375 calories in one workout and then on Sunday, I ate ice cream…what is wrong with me? I somehow thought that my relationship with food would change and I wouldn’t want those unhealthy things anymore. It’s not true. My body can tolerate everything it used to except hamburger meat (no more cheeseburgers!) so I don’t feel limited in what I eat, only the amount that I eat. This is a big bummer to me!

I’ve made a friend at my fit circuit class on Saturdays who attends Overeaters Anonymous and I’ve considered joining the group to see if this will help me.  I already know that I’m powerless around food. I either overeat or undereat or eat the wrong things, whatever you want to call it. I wonder if I’m purposely sabotaging myself for some reason. I could be in another depression and just not be aware…or I could just have a poor relationship with food and need to repair that in my head. Whatever it is, I need to get it under control and I need to end this daily struggle with food…once and for all!

I would love to hear advice or support on this. Leave me a comment with your struggle with food and how you’ve overcome it (or not) and let me know I’m not alone. I would love to know what works for your in your relationship with food!

Comments

  1. This this this!!! You just described me as you described your journey, minus a few specific details, of course, but this relationship with food, how it was formed, how it maintained through college, and how my husband and I joke that I have no clue how to cook for a family of 4. I cook for a family of 12 even though there are only 4 of us (yes we have left overs, but it sure doesn’t discourage second helpings). I also emotionally eat and I eat when I’m bored. I do really well with being healthy, then my arthritis or something will kick in and disable me from doing just about anything for anywhere from a day to 2 weeks, and I start emotionally eating (the whole, why do I even bother attitude). This is a struggle and I love you for sharing this journey with us. It makes me feel good knowing I’m not alone, and it also keeps me focused knowing that there are other people going through this difficult journey too. Love you so much for sharing this personal part of your life with me.
    Mary, Living a Sunshine Life recently posted..Easy Garden Vegetable LasagnaMy Profile

    • janet says:

      Yes, emotional and boredom eating! I didn’t even think about that! I’m so glad that we’ve connected through this. Thank you for your encouragement and for coming back to read more. {{{hugs}}}

  2. JenB says:

    Janet, you’re rockin’ this! Just looking at the pictures (if you can separate out that they are you – pretend they are me), can you see the difference between your original picture and the 6-month one? It’s staggeringly obvious! You are working your rear off to do this and do it right. None of us is going to be perfect all the time; it’s just not how we were created.

    In considering OA, research carefully what each type of meeting is and find one which suits you and is hopefully not too far away. I wound up at a meeting for a few months and it was causing my mental status more stress than relief. There are some great OA resources you can get from amazon that may provide some encouragement in addition to a meeting you can find.

    You’re being SO hard on yourself. I know it’s our tendency. But remember, which you did eat the ice cream (how did that stay down, by the way?), you also burned 375 calories in exercise. I never see the number anywhere close to 100 on my exercise bike, so you’re kickin’ butt with that. The food stuff doesn’t disappear just because of the surgery, like you said. I don’t know if it’s feasible for you, but personally, I am working with a secondary therapist to deal with only my food and eating issues. While my primary therapist is a man, my food therapist is a woman. Somehow that seems easier (even though I’ve been seeing the guy for over a decade).

    I agree with Patti – celebrate how far you’ve come because we are celebrating along with you! There are so many great options out there, and great cookbooks I’ve gotten from amazon. My Ninja and I have become fast friends for pureed food. I still have another week left there and am eager to hear how you jumped to “real people food.” You have so much to offer so many people and I’d hate for you to be discouraged because you’re having some hiccups. You admitted you were powerless over food the minute you started the surgery process. My mood has been all over the place (and not even 3 weeks out). I don’t know if it will level off, but I’ve definitely had some *very* dark times in those 3 weeks. Do you have a therapist or psychiatrist to contact? Seeing you from the outside might provide a better perspective than you looking introspectively. Just a thought.

    Know that while it hasn’t been long since we became friends, I have faith in you and I KNOW you CAN do this. Little stumbles are expected, but we have each other to lean on, got it? And we’re sharing recipes, for sure!
    JenB recently posted..Day 17 – in the Depths of Pureed FoodMy Profile

    • janet says:

      Jen, thank you so much for your friendship and encouragement, too! I know that I’ve made a lot of progress and that is due to following my plan for diet and exercise 90% of the time. I can see the changes I’ve made and I am proud of those changes. I didn’t realize I had been so hard on myself when I wrote this, but now that I look back (and people have pointed this out to me) I realize that my inner voice is still a meanie and I need to change that.

      You asked about the ice cream and to be honest, it didn’t go down well. It didn’t taste as good as the cantaloupe that I had earlier this week and some of it came back up later in the evening. So…not worth it at all!

      I don’t have a therapist right now because of finances, but I think it would be a good idea to have someone to talk to just about food issues. I love that idea, actually! I’m glad that you and I are going through this together and can share our experiences, even if we’re not on the same timeline.

  3. Patti Walling says:

    Love your very REAL post. I am determined to end the struggle with food. I just can’t resign myself to having a wrong relationship with food the rest of my life just because the first half of my life was consumed with all things “food”! When I started my journey back in 2010 my heart’s cry was that I would change. I say that because I had lost weight so many times before only to gain it back PLUS much more when I would go back to being “me”. So I realized who “me” was had to change! This journey has been so different…like I’ve NEVER been on a 5+ year weight loss journey!!! One thing I did was make very small changes to what I was eating. I changed regular chips to baked, I left off sour cream, cheese, butter from my baked potato or anything else asking me to adorn it with such! I started eating more mustard and less mayo. Little changes. I started letting FRUIT BE MY SWEET….which, I will have to admit, took a little bit because when I was all jacked up on sugar all the time fruit just didn’t seem too sweet to me. Now I can hardly believe just how sweet some fruit is and it is very satisfying to me. Janet, my best advice to you is don’t get down on yourself because of the food struggles. Just keep on keeping on making small changes and sticking to them. IT’s crazy to me how my food has evolved and what I am eating now is nothing like what I was eating the first 120 lb I lost. Now I hardly ever go out to eat and I’m okay with that. I used to eat out all the time. I cook up one or two days a week for the rest of the week so I can quickly and easily eat a meal having learned that waiting until I am hungry is NOT the time to start trying to cook something….otherwise I might stuff things in my mouth that will find their way to my hips and I never intended that to happen! You are doing a GREAT job and I am so proud of you and the progress you have made. My best advice is to celebrate how far you have come, plan for success and freeze some sliced bananas and make ice cream with them because they are yummy and very same consistency of ice cream when you whirl them up in your food processor or Ninja. Yum! We need to get together and talk in person. I want to help you any way that I can.

    • janet says:

      Patti, your encouragement and friendship just means the world to me! You are an inspiration to me and when I think about where you came from, I know I can work just a little harder and burn a little more. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say to me in person because I have heard you talk about food and I know you have things figured out. I need to try these bananas that you are talking about because I LOVE bananas. Thank you for all that you do for me and in front of me and thank you just for being you!

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