Doggie Bag Confessions from a Bariatric Patient

Article By: Tiffany Willis

Tiffany is a Bariatric Coach, Bariatric Patient Advocate, and Co-Host of the Life After Fat Pants Podcast. After losing 349 pounds in just 18 months following bariatric surgery in 2012, Tiffany has dedicated her life's work to helping those suffering from morbid obesity disease. Follow her at @lifeafterfatpantspodcast and @tiffanyaw72.

Once upon a time, the 531-pound version of me would order two large pizzas and eat every last slice — crust and all. However, since my weight loss surgery in 2012, my nutritional intake has undergone a supreme overhaul. Over the past ten years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to feed my body the fuel it needs, and I now have a fridge full of leftovers to prove it.

Let’s face it — eating out is a big part of our social fabric. Grabbing brunch with my besties is a fun way to connect. From birthday celebrations to gathering around the family table for Thanksgiving dinner, food of all sorts is just a spoonful away. Back when I was still recovering from my surgery and learning the limits of my body’s ability to digest smaller portions, the invitations to join others for “a bite to eat” were a bit awkward. To a certain extent, they still are. That’s because it’s hard for those who haven’t had bariatric surgery to comprehend how such small morsels can sustain us.

The old me used to feel guilty for eating so much. And the new, post-op me, sometimes feels guilty for leaving so much food on my plate. (Deep sigh!)

Yet, after fielding so many questions from even the most well-intentioned servers, dinner dates, and family, I’ve begun to eagerly embrace my protein-packed leftovers. If I order grilled salmon with a side of Brussel sprouts, I’ll slowly savor my 2-4 ounces and politely request a doggie bag.

And I make no bones about explaining my reasons for doing this. Bariatric patients require smaller portions. It’s that simple. As a forever bariatric person/patient, I am constantly reminded of how much is in my new stomach or pouch. I know and I can feel if I eat to much or have to big of a bite. So by learning that, I want to enjoy what I am intaking. I do not want to have a fabulous meal coming back up... My stomach is again 85% smaller that it was and removed. There is no extra space. I need to eat to fuel my body and never overeat. Overeating will only have bad outcomes. And we do not want those!

Instead of avoiding so many rich opportunities to break bread with friends and family, I’ve learned to embrace my new pace. And, trust me, my dogs have never been happier.

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