The last time I went to Florida to visit my family, in January, I was six months post op. It was really not difficult at all if I recall correctly. And, while I put a lot of effort into eating well and getting in my protein, my vacation did not revolve around food the way it always has in the past. This time, it was a whole different ball game! This time, I was visiting at one year post op. And, this time, I have my appetite back. My WHOLE vacation revolved around food! And I cannot make up my mind whether it was a victory or an utter failure!
I spent twelve days at my mom’s house in the middle of nowhere and she did absolutely nothing to prepare foodwise for my arrival. As a matter of fact, I had a sneaky suspicion she didn’t get any groceries on purpose so I would fill her pantry like I have the past few times. But that’s another story… one of those requiring a couch and a therapist;) Anyway, I knew this was a possibility so I had her stop at a Wendy’s on the way home from the airport so Trev and I could have lunch before getting stuck at her house. I also had a few protein bars in my bag to help me out. But, come 9 pm, Trev was starving and she decided she would make a run for subway. I mentioned that we are not subway fans and asked what the other options were. She said “There’s a Dollar General next door that usually has some decent grocery items.” What the heck? That was my first clue that if I wanted to eat well (and feed my kid) during this trip, I needed a rental car and groceries. So, the next day, I had a car and she had a pantry and fridge full of groceries (which my lovely nieces were more than happy to devour!)
I suppose that is what set me off on a preoccupation with eating (and feeding my family) during my vacation. It kind of sent me back to the time when I was a kid when we literally did not have food in the house. My family has always been poor and my mom, sister, and I (before Mom married my step-dad) were homeless on several occasions. So, when there was food available, we absolutely devoured it. Just like I watched my nieces do. It really struck home.
My time with my family became a series of food quests. My favorite food in Jacksonville (and everyone’s) is Sonny’s bar b q. It is my ultimate comfort food, my ultimate taste of home. I went to Sonny’s FIVE times in the 12 days I was home. I bought dinner for the entire family at Sonny’s for my oldest niece’s graduation, then I went on four more occasions. And I ate well! Each time, I ate about 2-3 oz of chicken breast, about a half slice of garlic toast and about FIVE crinkle cut fries. That was my carb limit. Every meal, I pushed my carb limit dangerously close to dumping. But never over… miraculously.
La Nopalera, the local Mexican restaurant was another favorite. I hit that at least three times, with different combinations of nieces, parents, or step sisters. On one occasion, my two middle nieces and I said we were going grocery shopping to pick up the food for a late afternoon barb q, and we snuck off to “La Nop,” ate in less than 15 minutes, swore each other to secrecy, and then headed to the bar b q. It was our “top secret” mission and we were all glad we did it because the bar b q was not yummy. Or maybe it was and we were just too full to enjoy it;) Anyway, it was fun. Each time, I ate ½ beef hard taco and ½ a beef enchilada. Again, dangerously close to my carb limit and so much more fat that I am used to.
One of my nostalgic restaurant options did not go so well. Krystals. If any of you know what Krystals is, you will think I am out of my mind for attempting to put that into my now healthy body. And I agree. I was out of control! Krystals is similar to White Castle… probably even grosser. Trevor LOVES it and just the thought brings me back home to some good ole days. Well, I knew better, but watching Trev enjoy his yummy Krystal burgers made me wanna just try a little. So I ordered two. I took the top bun off and folded the bottom bun and paper thin meat in half and even pinched off the extra bun. That left me with a little 1inch by 3 inch burger. The first bite tasted so yummy. But it did not sit well. But, I really wanted it to, so I kept going. I ate both little bitty burgers right through the tummy ache. And they were yummy! And they stayed down. And they made me MISERABLE for hours!!! By the end of the evening, I had pain so bad I thought I might need to go to the ER! I took Gas X, I took more Gas X. The pain was sharp and it would not subside. And my belly was so distended, I looked 6 months pregnant. The only reason I did not visit the emergency room is because I could actually feel (between the sharp, stabbing pains) the gas roiling around in my intestines. It was horrible!! Ok, I needed that dose of reality, anyway. What the heck was I thinking? Eating Krystals? HA! Craziness!
Ok, so I got control of myself after that experience and made much better (meaning less risky) food choices. I made a pulled pork dinner in the crockpot for the family one night. And I made a list of things for my mom to make for me from my childhood. Besides the corned beef and cabbage, the rest were quite high in fat, much fatter than I would normally eat. And they all had some sort of carbs I would not usually eat at home, rice, potatoes, pasta. I LOVED each meal. And I ate my ½ cup serving complete with the carbs and without guilt (mostly).
So, this is where the “I’m not sure if this is good or bad” part comes in. I enjoyed my pursuit of nostalgia through food. But, I allowed myself to use “vacation” as an excuse to eat things that are not on my meal plan. BUT, I didn’t use vacation as an excuse to OVEREAT. I did not gorge myself on food, I did not drink with my meals to give myself more room so I could continue eating. I didn’t continually go back for another serving as soon as I had room again. I enjoyed my ½ cup and walked away satisfied. I REALLY enjoyed my ½ cup and walked away VERY satisfied. But, I have to admit, I am not sure if this is a victory or the first step toward making excuses. Is this how “normal” people enjoy food, or is this a slippery slope?
I’m back home and completely back to my normal eating habits (although I was super sensitive to sugar for the first few days back.) So I will lean toward the victory. I SHOULD be able to find joy in eating. It is normal to @*#ociate food with certain events and to enjoy eating. But, I always have to keep in mind that, when it comes to food, surgery or not, I am NOT normal. While I lean toward victory on this one, I know I am always going to be dangerously close to failure…