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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Food, fabulous food

SAN DIEGO -- It occurred to me last night after signing off that I've yet to post about food. One of the reasons I promote Susan Maria Leach's book, "Before and After: Living and Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery," (revised edition goes on sale in two weeks) is because it proves that enjoying great food does not end when you go under the knife.

A lot of non- and pre-ops I meet fear gastric-bypass surgery means a life without taste, texture and gastronomical pleasure, but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, most of us become food snobs after weight loss surgery. I ate fast food at least twice a week as a pre-op. Now, I could hardly be paid to eat at McDonalds or Carl's Jr. -- the food doesn't even taste good enough to be pouch-worthy. I can find something to eat just about anywhere, but I'd rather not waste valuable space in my gastric pouch on mediocre food.

So, what does the American Society of Bariatric Surgery have served at its annual conference? Last year, I made the mistake of thinking that because it was an event about bariatrics, the catering would reflect the needs of bariatric patients. Wrong. What I forgot in my naivete is that the conference is geared toward bariatric health care providers -- not patients -- so the food did not match what my pouch could tolerate. If it hadn't been for the booth last year, I would have surgery fainted for lack of protein. That's part of the reason I agreed to help Susan at her booth this year -- I owe her a debt of gratitude for saving my pouch last year.

So far this year, I've been pleasantly surprised. Yesterday's breakfast was the obligatory continental convention fare: pastries, muffins, bagels, fruit, juice and coffee. The gang picked up coffees and went to the booth to make protein lattes and cappuchinos. I enjoyed a delicious latte made up of Nectar Cappuccino, Matrix Chocolate, Micellar Milk and hot water (12 oz offers about 25 grams of protein). For my mid-morning snack, I sipped coffee mixed with vanilla Micellar Milk and a shot of Davinci sugar-free Englis Toffee syrup and Cinnamon Bliss (a sugar-free caramel replacement that tastes just like a spicy cinnamon roll). OK, I'll be honest: I had two of those for about 20 grams of protein combined.

Lunch, however, offered something for everyone. The buffet featured a selection of salads and build your own sandwiches. I enjoyed a small green salad with tomato-basil vinaigrette and swiss cheese rolled up with deli ham and grainy mustard -- fast, filling and delicious. I was wise and steered clear of the decadent desserts.

Back at the booth, we were serving Revial soy chips (I'll have to review those at a later time), parmesan cheese crisps, AchievOne, Nectar Twisted Cherry mixed with Cherry-Pomegranate Crystal Light, ThinkThin bars and New Whey protein bullets in addition to the Micellar Milk lattes. Again, my body has never been so happy. My blood sugar only dipped once all day.

For dinner, we attended the conference's welcome reception. Again, I didn't know what to expect. Imagine my delight when I spied appetizer tables overflowing with oysters on the half shell, succulent shrimp, snow crab claws, cheese trays, canapes and beef and turkey carving stations. I didn't even glance in the direction of the pasta and dessert areas, though I did spy a few people enjoying chocolate-covered strawberries and baklava. But personally, those are treats in which I could never eat just one. Instead, I helped myself to oysters with Tobasco and fresh lemon, shrimp and crab sans cocktail sauce, green olive tapenade eaten with a spoon, Jarlsberg cubes, and melon-wrapped proscuitto and brie with a dab of cream cheese and mandarin orange (it was easy to set aside the little squares of toast atop which the melon and brie canapes were served).

Heavenly food aside, the best part of the cocktail party was that you couldn't easily tell the post-ops from the non-ops. We were mostly all enjoying the same delicious cuisine combined with excellent conversation. And like I told a couple of very handsome Australian surgeons yesterday, that -- to me -- is what the gift of surgical weight loss is all about: looking, acting and living a normal life. I could have kissed just about every doctor there for that blessing.


Danyele said...

Great post! Glad you're enjoying yourself. Please send a big thank you to the BE team from me too. My OH "angel" gave me a copy of SM's book in the hospital and it was a very valuable resource as a new post-op.

Melting Mama said...

Tonya - Are you working with Susan Maria?

Tonya said...

I wore two hats at the conference this year. The first was as a journalist to cover some of the surgeon sessions and report on the research studies and new products hitting the market (BTW: Bariatric Advantage finally is ready to sell its Wild Cherry calcium lozenges -- and they are soooo good). The second hat was to help Susan in her trade show booth. Last year, my paper sent me just to cover the trade show, which meant I couldn't help Susan (conflict of interest) in her booth.