Monday, August 20, 2012

The BB sugar experiment: Sugar and me, a little bit off history

Today is day 1, week 1 of mine and Noo's attempt at Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar experiment. We have started to cut back our sugar intake. I've only made a few small changes so far but at least that is something.

Noo had his sachet of oats for breakfast, as usual, but instead of adding more honey to the already sweetened breakfast I left it off completely. When I tasted a bit, I baulked. It just didn't taste sweet enough! I didn't think Noo would have a bar of it but he didn't even notice the lack of extra sweetener. I was really amazed. He is doing better than me so far! For dinner he ate two lamb chops without tomato sauce - a miracle.

I had a muesli bar that I found down the bottom of my handbag for brekky. Terribly high in sugar, I know, but we left the house in such a rush that I didn't have time to prepare something more healthy. I will get organised over this week. I did chuck out our car lolly stash (usually party mix or snakes but today it was a whole bag of eucalyptus and honey lollies). When I got my morning coffee I bought a chicken roll rather than a sweet pastry, like I usually do. Dinner was salad, lamb cutlets and some leftover pasta. I had a reasonable serve and was very content.

Now, for the people who have only started reading my blog recently I thought I'd give a little history about my weight issues and what has brought me here doing the I Quit Sugar plan.

Before I started blogging about deep and meaningful shit like who Noo's dad was (part 3 is coming I promise!) and how I was addicted to benzos for a short time, or writing poems about my drunken years in London, I was blogging regularly about my lap-band and my life long battle with weight issues. I think it is about time I revisit that. I'm getting fat again.

Sugar and me: A little bit of history

I'm a [lap]Bandit

When I started this blog on 11 August 2010 (OMG, I'm past the two year mark!), I was a massive 100kg. It was the biggest I'd ever been (actually, I was 104kg the week before Noo was born in 2008). I had tried everything to drop the kilos over the years but my weight always yo-yoed. I felt fat, unsexy, unloveable and unacceptable in a world that is so body conscious and judgemental.

Before lap-band and two years later
For more before and after shots check out this page

When I made the decision to get a lap-band I was worried about my health and my future. Coming from a family where there is heart disease and cancer on both sides, I knew I had to do something. Having Noo made me give a shit about how long I lived and the quality of life I wanted for me and my boy.

In that first post I wrote this:
"My problem used to be booze... I've since given up the devil's juice and have been proudly sober for 2+ years.  The only problem being that I picked up a replacement addiction - sugar!  Sweet anything. Chocolate mainly and lollies, ice cream, cake, doughnuts, brownies, Tim Tams...'

I still have a sugar addiction. I always will. Just like I will always have an addiction to alcohol and cocaine. The difference is, I am in recovery from the latter two. I have completely abstained from drugs and alcohol for over four years. Sugar, on the other hand, I'm in full blown active addiction.

On 6 September 2010 I had surgery to have a lap-band installed. It was drastic but I knew in my heart drastic measures had to be taken. Getting a lap-band was the best thing I could have done for long term sustained weight loss. It was not a lazy way out, like some people think it might be. In fact, managing life with a lap-band is challenging. It can be uncomfortable, if not down-right painful if you get food stuck, and it can be embarrassing if you need to purge the food that got stuck because it ain't getting out any other way. (For stories about getting food stuck in a lap-band check out here.)

But I have managed it - my lap-band. For nearly two years I have managed life with a foreign object wrapped around my oesophegus to restrict the amount of food that can get down my throat and into my stomach and I have lost 20kg. The weight loss was slow and steady (check out my goal list here for deets). I was very good with my food intake for about the first six months but slowly and surely sugary foods found their way back into my diet.

Lap-band basics

The band is like a doughnut ring full of fluid that is clamped around the bottom of the oesophegus to cause restriction around the top of the stomach (see gory pics of my band being installed here) creating a smaller pouch above. Food comes down the throat, sits in the pouch for about 30 seconds and then falls through to the stomach. As the food pushes through the band it puts pressure on the vagus nerve (pronounced like Vegas, the party city!) which sends the message to the brain that the stomach is full, even though it isn't. This feeling of satiety should hopefully occur after only about half to one cup of food.

The fluid level in the band is adjustable: too tight and you can't even get water through, too loose and you might as well not have one. The game a bandit is always playing is 'find the sweet spot'. Because we are all different sizes there's no one size fits all with lap-bands. Each bandit needs the perfect amount of saline fluid in their band: the perfect amount that makes it possible to get food down, but causes the bandit to slow down their eating and restricts the kind and amount of food they can eat. This is done by the doctor injecting into or removing fluid from the lap-band through a port that is just under the flesh around the left side of the body.

Sounds like a pain in the arse, doesn't it! It is. But it was worth it for me. Definitely! I do not regret a thing. My lovely lap-band helped me do what no other diet has done: lose weight and keep the bulk of it off. But...

What's my lap-band up to now?

Earlier this year I suffered a bout of gastro. I was up for hours chucking my guts up. Now, as a bandit, I vomited all the time. Or PBed, as the bandit lingo goes. Productive Burp. Gross, but true. PBing is ok with me. Food makes it to the top of the band but can't fit through. Like bread, pasta, rice. Or a mouthful that is too big or too carelessly chewed. Chucking that mouthful up is no probs for me because the food has not made it down to the stomach to mix with all the acidy juices down there so when it comes up it tastes the same was as it went down.

Proper vomiting, on the other hand, is a totally different kettle of tacos. Once food is through to the other side, ie in the stomach, it ain't getting back up past the band very easily. No matter how hard your gastro-ridden body wants to expel the bug that has invaded it. I learnt about this the hard way. 12 frigging hours retching, my body spasming in pain as it tried to eject the virus, while my lap-band that has been surgically stitched into my abdomen painfully rides up and down with each convulsion.

I should have taken myself to the hospital way before I did but I was scared they'd take all the fluid out of my band and I wouldn't have any more restriction, so I'd start over eating again. In the end I couldn't hack it any more. At 3am I was pumped with morphine and anti nausea drugs and had all but a small amount of fluid removed. The morphine was great and the anti nausea stuff was a massive relief. By the time I was back home again and putting my feet up it wasn't long before I was hungry again.

The sensation of being able to eat anything I wanted without worrying about it getting stuck was so luxurious. Bread, pasta, rice, potato back in my life? Hello carbohydrates! I could eat steak, go out for dinner without worrying about getting stuck, I could eat sushi! And even though the restriction had been let out I still couldn't eat that much. My stomach had shrunk so much I was amazed!

I had a follow up appointment at my weight loss surgery centre and they were really pleased with me because I weighed in at 79 kilos - the lowest I'd been since I'd lived in London and was on a healthy balanced diet of beer, cereal and class As (note sarcasm here). The doctor said I'd reached my ideal weight range and if I felt I could eat responsibly with my smaller stomach there was no reason to add the fluid back in.

I was stoked to say the least! I figured I'd be able to incorporate the healthy carbs (sourdough bread, a little rice and pasta) back in my diet and as long as I stayed clear of the sugary/fatty shit I'd be ok.

What has really happened?

Confession time here, I haven't stayed clear of bad food. If anything, I've been in down right binge mode! This year got pretty shitty for a while. I've talked about it heaps in this blog, but if you're only just reading for the first time - I was really not in a good way during the first few months of this year. I was suffering from symptomatic anaemia which caused exhaustion, low mood, anxiety, restless legs, constipation, hair loss. At the time I didn't realise I was anaemic, I just had the symptoms and I thought my depression was taking hold again. What do I do when depressed? Eat of course! And what kind of food? Sugary food!

So here I am, not far from my two year bandiversary and I'm 85.7kg. There, I've said it! Nearly back to 86 kilos! That's a 7kg weight gain since February this year. I have got to do something about it. I could go back to my surgeon and get my lap-band filled but that would mean not being able to eat bread/pasta/rice. It also makes eating other healthy foods like lean red meat and chicken very difficult. My iron levels have halved again since June so I really can't afford to not eat meat.

Where to next?

So quitting sugar it is! If I cannot make a success of this over the next eight weeks and drop 7kg then I am going back to get a fill. And anyway, this is not just about losing weight, it is about gaining control and repairing my sugar loaded taste buds. Its about not being slave to yet another addiction. It's about helping my mood naturally and stabilising my energy levels. And it is about getting my boy to eat a healthy balance diet so he can grow big and strong.

And so begins the experiment!



Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

fascinating read my lovely! WOW. Firstly I thought that you had to be a lot bigger than 100kg to get a lap band so I have been schooled :)

Good luck with giving up sugar. I could do it easily and pretty much already have... sugary stuff - cakes, lollies even fruit - doesn't really appeal.

But take away my carbs and I will cut someone. Heh.

The Babbling Bandit said...

Hey Kelley.

Thanks for the comment. I did have a fairly low BMI for lap-band surgery. It was only at 32.1. A lot of surgeons won't do it for people under a bmi of 35, some don't do it under 40. The current thinking though is that anyone with a BMI over 30 over a long period of time can benefit so I was lucky to be accepted.
I just love sugary foods. It is killing me to give up! Hopefully the detox will help me so I can eat it in moderation in the future.

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