Thursday, March 31, 2016

Trigger Dip

I began my morning by throwing out a half-eaten tub of French onion dip and some potato chips.

I felt decisive. Committed. Ready to let them go.

Actually sticking them in the garbage was the hardest thing I've done in a long time.

We hosted Easter for 15 guests this weekend, family and close friends all gathering for what seemed like the closest proximity to an Easter holiday back in the Midwest with our extended family. I made the decadent potato dish I learned during my year abroad—gratin dauphinois—which I reserve both for caloric and prep reasons for this holiday only. There was ham. Roasted vegetables. Even a homemade lasagna, since I felt I had to do something Italian if I was hosting the Italian side of the family. Guests brought delicious salads, vegetables, breads, and some truly decadent desserts. It was quite a spread. All of these things were pretty manageable for me, diet-wise.

Also brought into our home: French onion dip and potato chips. The minute I saw that tub of processed fat and salt, I knew I was completely screwed.

A year and four months after my vertical sleeve gastrectomy, I have reached the point at which:

  1. I once again feel true hunger, as well as cravings
  2. My sleeve is a little more accommodating (not full-stomach sized, but not as tiny, either)
  3. I can eat more carb-heavy foods that used to make me sick to even taste
  4. I am no longer steadily losing weight; in fact, I will gain if I'm not careful.
French onion dip and potato chips are trigger foods for me. They are simply horrible, containing every nutritional problem in the book, and yet I find I cannot stop eating them when they are in my presence. Even when they make me feel sick, I am simply compelled to put them in my mouth. While I can now only take a few bites of them at a time, I can do that over...and over...and over, until I've created a real problem for myself, tiny tummy or not.

After trying for two days to convince myself I could simply "have a bite or two in moderation" or "not really suffer ill effects from a little bit of indulgent food," my anxiety pretty much overtook my sleep last night, waking me several times. When I woke up, I knew I had to just chuck the stuff.

There are moments in this journey where I feel like such a victor, and I suppose from one perspective, I see my choice this morning as a moment of success.  Mostly, though, I feel tired, and lonely, and angry: tired of having to constantly worry about food, lonely because each time I confront a trigger I feel small and alone in the world fighting a big battle, and angry that I am a person for whom FRENCH ONION DIP is an actual problem. I mean, seriously, what the hell kind of problem is that for a person who generally has her life together, right?

Having shared this journey so openly, a fear looms over me: what if I gain back weight, and mess this all up. It would be a huge setback for me, a terribly disruptive outcome. My worry, though, comes from the understanding that I would be a disappointment to those who have supported me thus far, who have cheered me on as I have tackled the first part of this battle. What will you guys think?

It's all very humbling.

I suppose this once again reminds me that I am in a camp with so many others, people with addictions and anxiety and all other manner of conditions in which vigilant behavior modification is the critical factor required for our overall health. There is some comfort in that. The question remains whether or not I will seek out the comfort of group support over the comfort in the bottom of a tub of modified sour cream and hydrogenated oil. That's just going to have to be a day-by-day challenge, because I can't even begin to guess how I would answer the question a week, month, or year from now.

Here's the reality: changing my body this year has been hard, but this moment, right now, is the hardest so far. I must use all of my resolve, all of my connection with those I care about, and all of the self-care I can muster to simply string together as many good choices as I can, and at the same time, crowd out the worry-thinking and the catastrophising that accompanies mistakes. 

I don't have this all figured out. For goodness sake, seven years ago today, I wrote a blog entry at my Mommylu site all about the horrible struggle which is obesity. It just never ends, the figuring it out and dealing with the emotions of it, over and over.

I'm doing the best I can, moment-to-moment. I'm on the look-out for new goals, new inspiration, new...well, new anything which can help me reframe my position and continue to move in the right direction. Send those ideas my way, I'll take 'em. Send anything but chips and dip.