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Saturday, January 22, 2005

What I miss

Originally published Jan. 22, 2005, in the Tracy Press

Last week’s column discussed everything I’m no longer allowed to eat as I prepare to have gastric-bypass surgery. I’ve begun living as if I’ve already had the surgery, which includes abstaining from a host of no-no foods.

When I was considering surgery about a year ago, I realized that I needed to make sure I could live without all my favorites. If I couldn’t live without food that would be verboten, then there was no point in having weight-loss surgery.

I made myself a list of the foods I didn’t think I’d be able to live without forever, and I proceeded to test them. I would prepare the item or order it in a restaurant and reflect on it. I’d take a bite and see if it really tasted as good as I thought it did. I’d see if it felt good on my tongue and whether it felt generally good to eat it.

Surprisingly, most things haven’t been that hard to give up. But I think others will be a challenge for the rest of my life. I’m willing to take the challenge because I believe the benefits of surgery are worth it.

Here’s a rundown of what I found:

What I don’t miss

• Soda — I hadn’t really liked soda as a child, so giving it up was easy.

• Carbonation — As much as I love mineral water, I don’t miss it.

• Gum — I still think Dentyne Ice is the best remedy for after-lunch breath, but sugar-free breath mints will suffice.

• Coconut — The only time I eat coconut is when it’s in candy or desserts, and those are already forbidden (more on that later).

• Beef jerky — Since I don’t eat beef, it’s a non-issue.

What I do miss

• Alcohol — Drinking water at a party seems to make more of a spectacle of me than the drunken girl who dances topless on the bar.

• Fast food — I don’t actually miss the flavor of fast food (except for the grilled-cheese sandwich at In-N-Out), but I do miss the convenience of hitting a drive-through window when I’m short on time.

• Bread — The only reason I miss bread is because it’s very hard to make a sandwich without any.

• Pasta — As if I can imagine going to The Olive Garden and ordering anything else. I really don’t like minestrone soup, so this may be a restaurant I don’t eat at after surgery.

• Rice — Tofu curry from the Thai Café on Central Avenue just doesn’t taste good when it’s not combined with jasmine rice.

• Spicy food — Mild salsa just doesn’t enhance Mexican food as well as the hotter varieties.

• Desserts — This is almost deserving of its own column. I love desserts. Anything sweet and creamy has my vote. Cover it in chocolate and I consider it unbeatable.

I have to be honest: That list I made about a year ago specifying all the foods I wanted to see if I could live without consisted almost entirely of desserts. Sure, the In-N-Out grilled cheese was on the list, but it only took one bite for me to realize that I could live the rest of my life without eating another one. The chocolate mousse cake from Fabio’s, on the other hand, took three tries before I could resign myself to the idea of living without it (Yes, it really is that good).

I couldn’t begin to discuss my love for rich desserts, particularly when paired with a glass of vintage port wine. No dessert has ever been too rich for me — not even the decadent chocolate truffle pie at Magellan’s.

Even fast food — which I subsisted on for at least five days a week — wasn’t as hard to give up.
The deciding factor for me going through with gastric-bypass surgery is the realization that food is fleeting.

Yes, I love Marie Callender’s pies and the blended Carmelo Sensation at Zizzo’s on 10th Street. But I love the idea of fitting into the seats on amusement park rides so much more. The idea of climbing up the rock formations at Mount Diablo with my husband is as intoxicating as any ice cream creation at Cold Stone Creamery.

And the best feeling I can imagine is becoming pregnant and giving birth to my own child. And I know that won’t happen for me without surgery.

When it comes to the idea of having a baby, the richest dessert in the world holds no comparison.

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