Saturday, July 11, 2009

Learning to Live in a New World

We are approaching the 4th month anniversary of Tom and Teresa's surgery date. They are both seeing amazing physical changes as their weight drops day by day, and week by week. Now that they are pretty well through the physical recovery phase of all of this, we are finding that we are increasingly confronted by the other changes that are becoming more and more a part of our lives.

One of the biggest adjustments that is being driven by the post-surgical changes is that we are learning to figure out how to be social in the world without the very common lubricant of food.

Think about all the places where food is an integral part of our social lives. Most holidays revolve around food, or have traditional foods at their center: turkey at Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies, Easter eggs, barbecue at the 4th of July. Here, in the heartland, summer is the season for community festivals, and festivals are all about food: corn on the cob, and turkey drumsticks, funnel cakes, and lemonade. If you go to the movies, there is popcorn. If you go toa friend's wedding, or a bar mitzvah, or a funeral, there will be food in abundance. We meet for dinner and drinks, and we do business over lunch. We make birthday cakes, and we give chocolates to our sweethearts.

For Tom and Teresa, food has become something to be approached very deliberately and with purpose. There is the daily need to consume an adequate quantity of protein, and that must be accomplished within the constraints of what they can actually consume in terms of quantity. Right now, neither of them are able to eat more than about 1/3 of a cup of food at a single sitting. There are still a number of foods that simply do not go down well. Every bite has to be eaten with conscious intent.

So food can't serve as the social lubricant anymore. Food has to be FOOD. It is necessitating a complete re-examination for us all of the place of eating in our lives. We are learning to be social by being social rather than by eating with others. It is an interesting shift. Feels like a whole other level of living an alternative lifestyle.



sin said...

What an interesting post Swan. I am not surprised at all that you would be pondering things like this, the cultural role food plays in our lives as opposed to the simpler one of subsistance.

There are some fascinating books on the philosophy of food. Michael Pollan writes a lot about itas do others . I understand that in your case the interest is more personal, and its a challange more than a philosophical shift you are definitely into the cultural philosophy of it here a bit.

And I think it strikes a particular chord for me, as I am trying to diet and spent last night fighting off well intentioned pressure from my hostess determined to pour me wine and give me dessert. I resisted for hours and then succumbed. Boo!


swan said...

sin --
Sorry to hear that you ended up with a well intentioned person who ended up doing you a disservice in pressuring you to eat and drink beyond what was appropriate for you.

I am finding this particular piece of this journey to be both very challenging, and very interesting. We are simply awash in societal pressure to eat and drink, and it is very difficult to navigate through the day to day business of living in the culture without encountering a host of food issues.

We have seriously curtailed our dining out. It is very complicated and stressful to structure a set of food choices that work for Master and T -- although so far our experience with restaurants is that they are very accommodating.

I, on the other hand, find myself weighing my own choices. I don't want to indulge in front of Master and T, but I also get way hungrier than they do. I crave veggies and fruits, and OMG -- cheeseburgers and pasta. My own weight loss, as it is happening as a side effect, is much slower than theirs, but not unwelcome. I just don't have quite the same physiological "advantage" they have in learning to relate to food differently.

I imagine we'll all learn plenty as this goes along.


selkie said...

coming from an Irish background, food is incredibly prevelant and important in any person to person interaction. I grew up being grossly overfed; in an ironic twist by a mum who has NEVER weighed more than 110 lbs in her entire life. To this day, you walk into my mother's house and before you can say hello, you are having food shoved down it.

In fact your post got me thinking about how crucial a role food DOES play in our lives.

What an interesting, difficult yet fascinating sideline to the original focus of losing weight!

the graph was cool; just want to say, how UNFAIR is it that men seem to lose weight SO much eaiser than women??

Raheretic said...

Selkie, as you are looking at the comparative experiences of t and I, I am sure the tendency for men to lose weight more easily than women is a factor. Greater influences though are that I had a different, and much more radical procedure (Rouen Y bypass), than she did (gastric sleeve bypass).

Essentially this means that 40% of what I eat is not absorbed, as well as my having a greatly restricted stomach capacity. T also has a restricted stomach capacity, although she has greater stomach volume that I do, and she has no surgically created malabsorption. Additionally I am walking two miles a day (sometimes more). t for vaious reasons including a seriously arthritic knee, is only exercising every few weeks when she attends an aquatic exercise class. I suspect it is much more the difference in surgical procedures and exercise that explains our different degrees of weight loss, moreso than the inherent metabolic difference between men and women.

In that t's losses are even harder to come by than mine we cherish each pound she loses as a huge victory, knowing how important this is for her health, and how unprecedented her new physique will be for her.

All the best,


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you are both (all) doing so well.

In light of this post and the fact that you posted about inviting guests for dinner (stood up) how does that work....I mean having guests that actually do show up ! Is it difficult, do you have different menus etc....

Again thanks for sharing your journey.


swan said...

Karen -- when we invite guests, we practice hospitality. Doesn't everyone? We prepare a menu that allows Tom and Teresa to eat what they need and what they can eat, and we supply the side dishes and dessert items and beverages that make our guests feel welcome. We like to entertain guests for a meal because it is companionable and enjoyable. It is just that OUR household is learning to enjoy the things that "go with" a meal with friends as perhaps more important than the edibles themselves.


Impish1 said...

Haven't been able to read online much lately, and so have not clicked through to here lately and missed this discussion. I won't be long-winded, but just had to add: how much healthier and happier we would be without this ever present connection.