My Manna From Heaven

Yesterday was an important day. My meeting with the nutritionist was very instructive. I think we have a plan to keep my weight up. But I did also find out some sobering information from her as well.

First of all, I just think it’s really cool that my radiation oncologist has not one, but two nutritionists working in his office, just to help his patients with their nutrition. Not my medical oncologist, whom I see for most of my treatment, but the radiation oncologist that I’ve only talked to twice. I’m not even sure I’ll go for radiation treatment. If I do, it will be down the road. But based only on two consultations, and knowing I may never allow him to treat me, he still wants me to consult with a nutritionist in his office to make sure I don’t waste away to nothing. Maybe that’s standard procedure, but I’m almost touched by this free service that could make all the difference for me.

As I mentioned yesterday, my weight had increased by one pound, from 120 the past 3 or 4 days to 121. 120 for a few days in a row was a wake up call for me. I don’t want to fall below that weight if I can help it. The nutritionist, an attractive young woman in her 30’s, (always a bonus) said that my diet is actually very good. She said I eat “mindfully,” which is what they want. I just need to add some calories in a way that works for me.

I mentioned that I got some sobering information. Here’s what I found out. She agreed that I should try to avoid falling below 120. I asked her what would happen if I did. At what point would my weight become a serious problem? She wouldn’t give me a number. She just said, “We don’t want you to weigh less than 120.” That tells me it’s already a serious problem, even though I’m still not gaunt. With my clothes on, anyway. OK. Good to know.

She also said that one problem I have is that I have two things burning calories inside me now; my digestive system and my cancer. That’s why, if I eat like I used to eat, my weight crashes. I replied with an observation I’ve made before, but wasn’t sure was true. I said that the cancer is eating me up one cell at a time. She agreed. That’s what happening. That’s what cancer does. It eats you up. That’s the first time I’ve had a medical professional confirm that suspicion.

So now, like a pregnant woman, I’m eating for two. I’m feeding myself, and my cancer. I just have to make up for what my cancer eats.

So here’s the plan. I need to add snacks at set intervals between meals. So I have alarms set for 9:00 AM, Noon, 3:00 PM, 6:00 PM, and 9:00 PM. Noon and 6:00 PM would be lunch and dinner, obviously, not a snack. But those will be my set eating times, except for the big breakfast I have every morning around 8:00 AM.

Historically, before I was diagnosed, I ate twice a day, breakfast and dinner. If I ate breakfast, I wasn’t hungry for lunch. If I knew I was meeting someone for lunch, I’d skip breakfast so I could eat lunch. So I’m adding another whole meal, lunch, and snacks in between.

I’m also supposed to eat something before and after each workout. I had been eating an energy bar before working out, which I do every other day, but I didn’t think about eating right after. My nutritionist, whose name is Lisa, said I need to eat something within ten minutes after I work out, to keep my body from burning what little body fat I have left. She suggested Carnation Instant Breakfast, instead of Ensure or Boost. I didn’t work out today, so I haven’t had one yet. I hope they’re tolerable. Lisa thinks they taste better than Boost, which I can only tolerate if I add ice cream to it.

She says we need to put more money in the bank, not withdraw more. Boy is that true, in more ways than one!

She also told me to always add a fat to a carb. Cheese and crackers. Toast with butter. Cereal and milk. I can do that. On cold mornings, I love oatmeal for breakfast. But oatmeal and toast is an almost 100% carb meal. So I added a spoon of coconut oil to it this morning, and had two pieces of cheese on the side.

My before bed snack last night was pretzels, a couple slices of Colby/Jack cheese, (my favorite) and some almonds. This morning I weighed 122. I’ll take that extra pound!

My wife thinks I should try to get above 125, at least. It’s too easy for my weight to crash if my eating pattern is disrupted for even one day. I need a little headroom, to use an audio term. A little more money in the bank.

The good news is, I’m actually hungry a lot of the time now. That’s another lifestyle adjustment I need to make.

I realize that I’ve made many of you wish you had my attitude toward food. Sorry, but here’s another one. Because I fill up so easily, I’ve often put off hunger pangs because I didn’t want to spoil my next meal. If I felt peckish at, say, 3:00 PM, I wouldn’t eat anything. If I did, I wouldn’t want dinner. I can’t do that anymore. If I feel hungry, I must eat something immediately. If I don’t, I’ll lose what little money I still have in the bank. My body will start burning my 0% body fat. Not that I’m actually 0%. I have no idea what I am, except skinny.

So the new rules are:
1. Always eat something before and after each workout.
2. Always add a fat to a carb.
3. Eat at regular intervals.
4. Eat before bed.
5. Never ignore hunger pangs.

But even when my stomach is empty, my heart is full. As Jesus said, man does not live on bread alone. (Matthew 4:3-4, blog) My paraphrase is that man also needs coffee and chocolate. What many don’t know is the rest of that quote. “…but by every word that comes out of God’s mouth.” Boy, is he filling me up with that.

And you are filling my heart with love. But I know I can’t live on love alone, either. Not if I don’t want to weigh zero. But you have made it very tempting to try.

When God provided manna from heaven to the Israelites in the desert, he was providing their nutritional needs. I have a nutritionist for that. I have two grocery stores nearby. Moses didn’t. My manna from heaven is what I’m learning about God and about love. My manna is learning to trust God for the first time. It’s the love and encouragement that I get from you.

But even as I’m overflowing with the love I’m receiving, with the manna from heaven that still pours down on my head, I’m still gonna eat. It’s time for a protein shake. My phone tells me so.