I love to eat. I love to research Amish recipes and make these full fat dishes that taste so good and feel like a warm hug when they hit your belly. The problem is, I’ve made too many of these warm hugs and while my bariatric surgery keeps my weight down, I still want to lose more weight. My family does not have a tiny stomach that prevents them from overeating so they eat all the time because they enjoy it – not because their body needs it.
The reality is that I have been lazy. I know what needs to be done but it takes TIME to plan and prepare healthy meals. It takes endurance to get the family on board and not give in to the many excuses we have that prevent us from making better choices. That laziness is killing us and it had to stop.
Usually we start a new “diet” on a Monday but this time I woke up at 4AM on a Wednesday, the Wednesday after Easter, and decided enough was enough. I took all of our white bread….5 loaves….outside and fed them to the birds. I went through the snacks we had and sorted them in snack size baggies by serving size. I froze any leftovers we had from Easter and tossed the really bad ones and the desserts. I went to the grocery store and bought whole wheat bread, lots of fruits and vegetables and eggs and yogurt. I added in Almond milk, lean meats and string cheese. My family was in for a shock.
They actually took it pretty well. We talked – ok, I talked and they listened – but they admitted they were tired of feeling crappy too. I knew my wife and I could handle the changes but our son….well, he is another story. He has always hated all fruits and vegetables so I knew I was in for a battle but that was okay. I had a plan. I would start by making him smoothies. After my bariatric surgery I had bought a Ninja blender but had used it only a couple of times. I dug it out of the garage, cleaned it, and made a place of honor for it on my counter. I was going to use this thing if it killed me.
On to smoothie making. My son eyed up the blender and watched me put each item in. I had him help me chop up the fruit and pour in the ingredients. I let him press the buttons on the blender and pour it into a cup. He gagged when he drank the first one. I tried it and it was okay but not very sweet. A friend at work told me to add a drop of vanilla and that made it better but not great. I added a scoop of chocolate protein mix to the next one and I thought it was good – my son refused to drink it because it still wasn’t sweet enough. The third smoothie had banana, almond milk, a drop of vanilla and vanilla yogurt. It was very good but again he said he “just couldn’t drink it mama”…..so I did what every mother does at one time or another….I told him I would pay him $3 to drink the damn thing….and he did.
At $3 a day these smoothies were going to get pricey quick so I went to the dollar store and picked up some packs of football stickers that he collects. The next day I told him that if he drank a smoothie I would give him some stickers. Again, I tried three different kinds and again it took me until the third one to get him to drink it.
Everyday we came home after school and made smoothies. I used fresh berries, frozen berries, banana’s, no banana’s, flavored yogurt, flavored almond milk….we made it four days before he decided enough was enough.
He sat me down and said, “Ok mama, I want the rest of these stickers but I can’t drink these smoothies. If I ate a FRUIT or VEGETABLE would that be a good substitute?” Holy crap. Did he just offer to eat fruits and vegetables for stickers? I told him yes and we pulled out the celery and Peter Pan Simply Peanut Butter – which I know is not the healthiest but it is better than regular peanut butter and delicious. He ate the celery….most of it….and that was the start of his relationship with healthy eating. I felt like I won a battle!
Next was to tackle his lunch. I usually let him buy lunch two days a month and then pack his lunch the rest of the days. He was getting a sandwich on white bread with mayo and whatever lunch meat was on sale that week. I added gummies, a 4 pack of Hostess mini muffins, a bag of chips, a granola bar, a gogurt yogurt and a cheese stick. He also had two bottles of water.
I changed this to a half a sandwich on whole wheat bread with mustard and lean turkey or chicken. I gave him two muffins, a half a granola bar, two strawberries, a piece of celery with peanut butter, an ounce of almonds, a cheese stick, his gummies and a gogurt. Still a lot of food but less then before and no chips.
He fought me over the strawberries (he can’t stand the little seeds) so I picked up some applesauce with cinnamon and he loved it. Still too much sugar but it is a start. Some days he ate all of his food but as the week progressed he was eating less and leaving the extras in his lunch box.
I think dinner has been the biggest change. We went from eating unlimited processed foods, fatty meats and at least one starch to having mostly vegetables and a lean protein – one serving. He promised to try each vegetable and he has. He found that he actually likes broccoli, cauliflour, and corn – not enough to eat a bunch of them but he can eat a small serving.
Last week he had his 8 year checkup with his doctor who was very pleased. For the first time ever, he did not gain weight since his previous visit which was a month before. I told him of the changes we made and our struggles and he was very supportive. He talked to Gavin about the importance of “practicing” eating fruits and vegetables. Just like when you play football for the first time and you’re not very good you keep practicing until you are better and before you know it you can throw a perfect spiral. I saw Gavin listening and he was quiet on the way home so I knew he was processing it all.
Fast forward a week ahead and Gavin is 3 pounds down which is fantastic. His doctor told us he would be happy if, when Gavin comes back in a month, he was the same weight. He is so tall – a full head taller than anyone else in his class – and he expects him to keep growing up. We just need to stop him from growing out too.
Tonight I could have cried. Gavin said he felt like making something so I asked him to make a smoothie for my wife and I for our breakfast tomorrow. He made it while I packed lunches and suddenly said, “Mama, can I have a carrot?” I told him of course and he ate it, saying what’s up doc as he did, lol. He then asked if he could have a little plate of carrots with some ranch dip for his snack. WHAT!! Did my son just ASK for carrots??? I whipped up a batch of dip using greek yogurt and a little bit of ranch dip powder and made him a plate.
I am so proud of him and proud of us for fighting the battles to get him to this point. We can’t go back to where we were again so I have to keep looking forward and taking it a day at a time. Adding in exercise is next….stay tuned for that blog post 🙂