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Food and I are getting a divorce.

Jen581791

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...and this is a good thing. 

Pre-op, I read a lot of people's takes on "food funerals." I didn't feel prompted to have any of those, though, because by the time I made the commitment to do the surgery, I was ON FIRE to lose weight. I felt no regret about not having my old favorites while I was doing my pre-op diet, no deprivation, no sadness. It was like a switch had been flipped. From my lengthy history with dieting, I knew that this was 1) the golden zone for weight loss - a great mental attitude that would lead to some important big changes, and 2) the danger zone for overextending my dieting commitment: 100% perfect until burnout is not a long-term solution. But I went with it. I lost 19 pounds in 5 weeks. Woo!

Then, surgery came, and I completely lost my desire to eat. Anything. Ever. I am never hungry, I never crave anything, and I never like what I'm eating. Part of this is due to weird physiological changes after WLS (messing with the vagus nerve, changing the tongue's actual response to sweet and bitter tastes, changing hormonal responses to eating, etc), but part of it is also due (I think) to a really bad cold I got last winter...

I got a bad cold in November, several months pre-op. It was the kind where you have to stay in bed, or at least stay home on the couch for several days. I was staying with friends at the time, but they were also knocked out by this cold, so we just lay about on the sofa shot-gunning Netflix. We were all miserable. There were the normal symptoms (runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, headache, body aches, lethargy, etc, etc, etc). 

When I was all better (weeks later), I was feeling myself again, but I found that I just couldn't really drink a beer. It just didn't taste good - too bitter. Normally, I'm a microbrew kind of gal (I spent my formative drinking years in Seattle during the initial microbrew surge), and I LOVE bitter beer, but I just couldn't even drink half a pint of IPA. Then, I noticed that wine didn't taste good anymore. I really like wine! I know a little bit about it, and I love a nice glass or two of a nice, complex, heavy red wine. Suddenly, I couldn't taste the difference between boxed wine and $40 a bottle wine. Then I started to notice that food was only nice for its texture, and it didn't have the same flavor anymore. And smells, both good and bad, just escaped me (catbox? what catbox?). Everyone else could smell things but me. 

My nose has always been overly sensitive, to the point where smells bother me that others can't smell at all - it's a curse, for sure. There are way more bad smells in this world than good ones. But now, I could only smell what I would estimate to be maybe 25% of what I could. I looked it up on the interwebs, and apparently this is a thing that can happen after you have a really bad cold, and if it doesn't come back in a few weeks, it probably won't ever. Yikes! However, this has been a total blessing to me while trying to lose weight, and I think it may be to blame for why EVERYTHING SMELLS AND TASTES TERRIBLE TO ME NOW. 

All protein smells/tastes the same: veggie burgers, fish, beans, even cat food, for goodness sake (although I don't taste the cat food, it smells the same as the others). All dairy smells/tastes the same: yogurt, cheese, milk, cottage cheese, ice cream. All really bitter things smell the same: beer, coffee, even cigarettes! all smell the same. These three smells are really terrible and don't have anything to do with how any of these things smelled before surgery. They are not food smells. All other flavors are minor notes in comparison, and since I eat mostly protein and dairy, I rarely have anything to eat that doesn't smell like these things. Fruit and vegetables I can taste a bit, and they taste good (but different from before). 

In view of all this, the idea came to me the other day that it's not like food is dead to me - when someone you love dies, you miss them a lot and think about them all the time and wish they were back. However, it seemed way more like food and I were getting a divorce. I've never been divorced (happily married for 17 years this coming weekend!), but here's my thinking: I USED to love food, but it's just not a big part of my life now. I can't see what I ever saw in it. I don't want to be around it. I want to get on with my life and interact with food only as often as I need to (mealtimes), but it's always there, not gone forever, just not a central part of my life anymore. 

Again, part of this is the WLS physiological effects, but I think some of it is losing my sense of smell. I don't know if this will last past the honeymoon phase, but I think some of it might, just because I don't think my sense of smell is going to come back. 

Eating is just a chore, like scrubbing the toilet or taking out the garbage. This is all very weird. 




13 Comments


WOW!  I've heard that people experience this following the surgery, it's interesting that yours was a result of your viral infection.  Just wondering if you're thankful or sad or just very matter-of-fact (seems like it from the tone of your entry).

Surf23v1 likes this

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Yeah, my experience seems to be on the far end of the bell curve as far as food aversions go. I'm of two minds about this - it's very freeing to not care about food at all. I just don't care. I can be around anyone eating anything and I'm not tempted in any way. On the other hand, I do sort of miss the emotional connection to food - that sounds really creepy when I type it, but I imagine that most people on a WLS forum website probably understand! Also, I need to get a hobby because I have a lot of new time on my hands without spending much time on shopping, cooking, eating. How are things going for you? Pounds dropping off OK? It seems so slow day to day, but it's adding up :) 

Waisting likes this

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Oh wow I lost my smell and taste Feb 2016 due to the flu !!  My taste came back after 2 weeks (just not as good) My smell never came back.. So like you I am going to use this to my advantage..I will say not being able to smell does mess with me but if someone's cooking bacon I won't smell it lol..

 

Jen581791 and Waisting like this

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Wow, a fellow sufferer! So glad to hear from you! I do think it's working to my advantage, so that's some comfort :) but it is awfully weird not to smell normal stuff that other people do. 

 

tracyringo and Waisting like this

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Anything that affecting the sinuses can have strange results in regards to your sense of smell and in turn your sense of taste. Years ago a dentist either injected too much Novocain or in the wrong spot resulting in my sinuses going numb. This caused my sense of smell/taste to be a little "off" for several years. On the plus side I was able to quit smoking instantly because for the next year and a half if I came within 15 feet of a cigarette it immediately triggered my gag reflex! :blink:

Waisting likes this

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@Havamal Lol! What a convenient way to quit smoking! 

Yes, I've read a little bit about what is wrong, and it sounds like the cold literally burned out the smell buds or whatever you might call them. Smell and taste are both weird now. Just had some mint tea tonight (which I normally LOVE) and it tastes like dirt. Literally, like dirt. 

Waisting likes this

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OMG! I am the Smell Whisperer! Always have been, and now... it is 100 times worse. At work, I am known for diagnosing bladder infections, etc. by smell. Gross, I know, and now the only food that doesn't smell disgusting to me is fruit or some vegetables. Any other food smells, particularly any kind of meat or fried product, make me nauseous. I'm not hungry at all. It really is weird. Awesome, but weird.

I feel much the same way as you do about food, like I wasted so much time on preparing, cooking, sneaking, fantasizing, hating, eating it that now I'd just like to get on with the business of living. I am pretty sure this is the honeymoon period for me because my head still has some wonky ideas about "healthy" meals that I should try. I am grateful that right now the thought of most of it makes me sick. Lol. From what everyone says, it's about developing good habits now so later on I can eat on autopilot. Sounds good to me.

What's been a little more upsetting to discover is how several of my relationships have been based purely around food. Why this surprises me, I don't know. Everybody needs enablers. I just never wanted to look at it until now. Since I quit downing meals for a family of six at a sitting, they don't want me around. Their loss, but it stings a little.

Waisting likes this

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I totally hear you on the Smell Whisperer thing. Not having this superpower is actually refreshing! I can stay in a hotel without being creeped out by the smells of all the other people who've stayed in the room. If the kitchen sponge gets funky smelling, I'm not gagging from 10 feet away. The list goes on. It's great. 

I'm trying to use this food-aversion period to build good eating habits, like you. I haven't had the experience of food-based relationships being a problem because I'm traveling/homeless at the moment, so I'm not spending much time with people I know. The exception to this is my husband - we do a lot of celebration/commiseration/cheer-up/de-stress eating and drinking, and that has gone by the wayside. He's dealing with it OK, so that's good. 

 

slars04 and Waisting like this

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Hi Jen!  Things are going well-I have officially left the period where I didn't want to eat (not due to loss of smell or taste, just incredible post op restriction).  Now, at 10.5 weeks out, my problem seems to be dinner-it's when I typically serve myself the most significant meal of the day, by which I mean about 2 oz of protein and some veggies.  It's rare that I don't feel crappy, if not nauseated by the time I give up. That feeling lasts about 30-40 minutes and then dissipates.  I suspect that I am eating too many veggies BUT, if I eat the same meal,earlier in the day, I don't seem to have the same issues.  Any wisdom from the experienced Sleevers around this dinner issue would be appreciated.  Other thing I have noticed is that there are days I simply must eat a quarter or a half a piece of whole wheat bread.  This is usually once or twice a week.  It's a new thing-I did not care whether I ever ate bread again earlier on in my post-op phase.  I will need to watch this like a hawk as I have always identified bread as something I could binge on.  However, pounds are coming off nicely-i have lost 50 lbs-and in the midst of that, experienced my week long dreaded stall.  But thanks to TTF, i kept the faith.  Enjoying your posts, keep up the good work!

Jen581791 likes this

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@Waisting Glad to hear you're making such great progress! 50 pounds is awesome. Doesn't it feel great? :) 

Sorry to hear that your dinner experiences are not going smoothly. Have you tried just switching what you eat at dinner? Eat something easy like yogurt or something, and see if that makes you feel unwell? Hopefully a more experienced person has some advice.

I haven't had any bread since a month or more pre-op. Bread, pasta, and crackers are my kryptonite. I've had a few little wheat crackers a 3 or 4 times in the last couple of months, to eat with cheese, but I can hear a little voice in the back of my head saying, "It's OK. You're eating so little right now. A few more crackers won't hurt..." and that freaks me out. I'm trying to avoid them now. 

Keep going, you're doing so well! 

Waisting likes this

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Some a$$hat in the office has fired up the microwave and then brought whatever back to their desk. It is wafting... UGH. Did I fail to mention this is verboten? If I continue to feel nauseous, I will make sure I use her deskside garbage can to eliminate in.

Edited by slars04

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On 4/26/2017 at 9:09 AM, Jen581791 said:

 

I haven't had any bread since a month or more pre-op. Bread, pasta, and crackers are my kryptonite. I've had a few little wheat crackers a 3 or 4 times in the last couple of months, to eat with cheese, but I can hear a little voice in the back of my head saying, "It's OK. You're eating so little right now. A few more crackers won't hurt..." and that freaks me out. I'm trying to avoid them now. 

This may be one of those slippery slope items, but the almond flour crackers from Simple Mills are amazing! My favorites are the Tomato Basil ones and the Sea Salt ones. Wow.

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@Gretta Thanks for the tip - I know I won't go without crackers forever, so a sensible option is welcome. I had some Trader Joe's crispy cheese bites (just baked cheese) a few weeks ago, and they were pretty good. I didn't feel driven to eat more than 2 or 3 little bites each time I had them, so maybe there's hope for me!

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