A Day on the Plate

A Day on the Plate

Earlier last month – July 5th, to be exact – marked the three year anniversary since my weight loss surgery.  I remember the days of looking at a one ounce serving and scoffing at the size and then making myself sick just trying to eat that much.  Where are those days?!  Long gone.  Now that I’m three years out, there’s really nothing that’s off limits to me.  I have been one of the fortunate ones – if you could call me such a thing – in that I have not had any long-term negative side effects from the surgery.  I’ve met and read about people for whom entire food groups are eliminated because they simply can’t eat them.  For better or worse, I can tolerate All The Things.

And thus…regain.

The first year was the easiest.  I mean, how can you not lose weight when you’re physically restricted to eating a few ounces at a time?  How can you not lose weight when the foods you used to gorge yourself on make you vomit or experience dumping syndrome because of the sugar and/or fat content?  I didn’t have to exercise.  I just had to remember that sweets weren’t worth the gut pain and nausea and pork was sometimes iffy.

Last year, I started running and that helped me lose another 20 or so pounds over the course of the year. But I wasn’t watching what I ate because again, I didn’t have to.  Yes, I was admittedly eating more than in Year One, but I was still having much smaller meals than the people around me.  It seemed like a decent gauge.

This year has been The Year of The Regain.  I’m not surprised.  I never really took the time to change my relationship with food.  It went from being my source of comfort and joy to something I had to do to survive and then back to something I could actually enjoy – and enjoy I did!  I went from living to eat to eating to live and back again.  I started smoking again and stopped running and so, as can be expected, I gained weight.

In the last month, I’ve been hyper-focused on my health.  I measure my food again.  I track my water intake with an app.  I take all of my vitamins every day without fail.  This weekend, The Boy and I have committed to quitting smoking (again!) and next week, I”m starting CrossFit.  I know the weight will come off so I”m not worried about it.  Like millions of other people, I know what I need to do.  But it’s not what any of us wants to do.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine and she made a comment about being scared about what she’d be able to eat if she underwent weight loss surgery of any type.  I’ll admit that I was pretty defensive throughout the entire conversation because, well, WOMEN + WEIGHT DISCUSSION = NEVER A GOOD OUTCOME.  But it got me thinking…what am I actually eating?  What does it look like over the course of a day?  Because I can weigh and measure to my heart’s content but if other people don’t know what 3 ounces of chicken looks like on their plate, then they’re not going to understand what a day on my plate looks like.  So, I did the only other thing I could think of.  Much to my chagrin, I am publicly showing you what a day on my plate looks like.



Let’s break down this down, shall we?

Breakfast (446 calories/28g protein/10g fiber)

2 hard boiled eggs (155 calories/13 g protein/0g fiber)
5.3 oz. Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt – Pineapple (80 calories/12g protein/0g fiber)
1 medium banana (105 calories/1g protein/3g fiber)
2 cups sliced strawberries (106 calories/2g protein/7g fiber)

If I had sat down and eaten all of that in a matter of minutes, I would have burst my staples right where I was.  I ate this while multi-tasking at my desk and it took me about an hour and a half to eat all of it.

Lunch (456 calories/31g protein/7g fiber)

3 oz. turkey breast (88 calories/15g protein/0g fiber)
2 slices mild provolone cheese (140 calories/10g protein/0g fiber)
2 slices light wheat bread (80 calories/5g protein/5g fiber)
1 Hellman’s mayo packet (86 calories/0g protein/0g fiber)
12 cherries (62 calories/1g protein/2g fiber)

This took me about a half hour to eat.  The other half, I was burning off calories by running my mouth.

Snacks (578 calories/28g protein/10g fiber)

1 Cabot sharp cheddar cheese (50 calories/6g protein/0g fiber)
2 oz. raw almonds (328 calories/12g protein/7g fiber)
1 Kind Plus almond walnut macadamia bar (200 calories/10g protein/3g fiber)

Clearly, this is the area that needs the most work in my diet.  There’s nothing bad about any of the things in the above list.  They’re all billed as ‘healthy’ and everyone I know that diets keeps staples like this around to prevent them from going haywire throughout the day and hitting the vending machine.  But you know, it took me sitting down and going through this exercise to realize that my “snacks” throughout the day are more calories than my meals.

With that said, I started gnoshing on these babies around 2:30 PM and did so throughout my commute home.


photo (2)

Dinner (205 calories/15g protein/4g fiber)

1/3 creamed spinach – Boston Market (80 calories/2g protein/1 g fiber)
1/3 steamed veggies – Boston Market m(25 calories/1g protein/1g fiber)
1/2 cup Gardein beef-less “steak tips” (100 calories/12g protein/2g fiber)

So, let me clarify something.  A few days ago, I went to Boston Market and brought dinner home.  I brought home an individual sized creamed spinach and an individual sized steamed veggie side for myself.  I am still eating them.  So when I say 1/3, what I mean is 1/3 of the serving you get if you order an individual side.

One of the things I do is try to “load” the majority of my calories in the earlier part of my day.  This is why if I were to start making such posts like these on a regular basis, as a general rule you’ll notice that I try to keep my dinner small.  Sometimes I even hang onto something I’ve counted as a snack in the earlier part of the day as a dessert.  For instance, last night, I ate the Kind bar after dinner.

Daily Totals (1685 calories/102g protein/31g fiber)

This isn’t an example of my “best” or “worst” day.  It’s average, by far.  Sometimes I order pizza for dinner. Sometimes I go out for Mexican burrito bowls for lunch.  Sometimes I really want a greasy burger. But when that happens, I try to adjust elsewhere. Other times, I pack snacks that I don’t bother to eat.  Sometimes I skip the burrito bowl or the burger and get a Strawberry Poppyseed salad from Panera.

All of this is to say that there seems to be a misconception that once a person has had weight loss surgery (especially gastric bypass), that they can’t eat as much and so there’s no reason for them to ever gain the weight back.  Wrong!  I may not be burying myself in Drake’s cakes like I used to, but it is indeed still possible to overeat and to eat the “wrong” things. It’s still necessary for me to count calories, weigh and measure my food and yes, exercise.  The myth that weight loss surgery is a quick fix to life’s problems is just that.

2 Comments on “A Day on the Plate

  1. Great read, really some helpful ideas. I was wondering if it was not to trouble could you explain how you weigh your food. What tools do you use.

    • Hi Eileen! It’s absolutely no trouble at all!

      I have an electronic kitchen scale though I can’t remember the brand. I put my plate on it when it’s empty and reset it to 0, then add my food and weigh it that way. You can also get ones that aren’t electronic and just put your food you’re measuring in the cup that’s attached. They aren’t too expensive and they’re the best way to truly know how much you’re eating. I typically do this for meat/primary protein sources only.

      For my veggies, I use actual measuring cups. One way to make sure you’re being honest is to use a butter knife to keep yourself honest. Make sure once you’ve filled it that you use the knife along the top and are getting a flat measurement along the edge of it.

      For anything else, like hummus for example, I’ll use measuring spoons. Actual measuring spoons – not the regular spoons in my drawer that are a tablespoon or teaspoon, etc. You can weigh anything in ounces on the kitchen scale if that’s easier but I usually switch off between the scale and my measuring cups/spoons. In fact, my battery needs to be changed out on my scale so I’ve been measuring in the cups only and then converting that to ounces (thank you, Google!) as need be.

      One thing I did want to point out is that when I packed up those almonds the other day, I weighed them out and then when I looked up the calories realized that a serving was supposed to be HALF of what I packed. So now I’m literally counting out 23-25 individual almonds when I bag them up. It’s a LOT of preparation work but one way I handle it is to prep on Sundays for the week ahead so I can literally just grab and go during the week. On weeks where I haven’t done the preparation, I’ve been more likely to go out more often for my meals and get my snacks from the vending machine. If the stuff is prepped and ready to go, I feel I have no excuse to not eat it!

      Hope this helps and if you have other questions, let me know! I’ve thought about photographing and journaling everything for a solid week so people can see the impact that it has overall. For instance, that day was over my target of 1200-1400 calories but other days were obviously lower because the scale went down again this morning. If that’s something you’d be interested in, let me know and I’ll get on it!