In two days I head into corrective jaw surgery. I’m not going to get into all the medical technicalities of the surgery, but post-surgery my jaw will be wired or rubber banded shut for about six weeks. This means a liquid diet for six weeks. I’m not super stoked about that, but here’s the thing – I had this surgery 13 years ago*, and I managed to survive then. So I’ll survive now.
Anyway, when you’re recovering from surgery you need a lot of protein and other nutrients to aid your body in healing. If I remember correctly, my former surgeon encouraged me to get 3000 calories/day during recovery. HAHAHA. Yeah, I don’t get 3000 calories/day when I’m actually eating solid food, so to try to consume that much on a liquid diet is nearly impossible. But hey, it’s good to have goals.
At the time my mother – on the advice of the surgeon – went to Costco and stocked up on Ensure. I took one sip and decided that would be my last. So I subsisted on Carnation Instant Breakfast drinks (remember those?), Jamba Juice, and milkshakes. Eventually my mom started putting ice cream into the breakfast drinks and the smoothies because – CALORIES! After about a month I was ready for a change and asked my mom to blend me up some clam chowder – a weird request I know, not least because I don’t particularly like seafood. Not eating solid food for that long will lead to some weird cravings. For example, I also desperately wanted some Taco Bell creation that I kept seeing advertised on TV (it looked like a quesadilla but was a hexagon, maybe) – but I couldn’t blend that, so clam chowder it was. Like the Ensure, I had one sip of the chowder and almost retched. Back to ice cream smoothies. It wasn’t exactly the healthiest post-surgery diet.
This time around, I vowed to be more mindful about my recovery diet. I definitely need more protein, and probably less ice cream. (Apparently sugar is bad for you?) Luckily in the thirteen years that have passed, the smoothie and shake scene has radically changed. We have Vitamix now! But my knowledge of protein powders is woefully lacking. So like any good Millennial, I took to the interwebs to crowdsource.
I asked my Facebook friends what non-disgusting protein powders and other nutrients they put in their smoothies or shakes. The response was unexpected and intense. I never imagined that so many people would have opinions on protein shakes!
At first I was pleased – this was good info! But as my notifications kept increasing – ping, ping, ping – anxiety began creeping in. My palms got clammy. I broke into a cold sweat. So many notifications begged the question: Is everyone drinking protein shakes without me?
Vega! Orgain! Shakeology! The list kept growing. Sun Warrior! Herbalife! I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Amazing Grass! Vital Proteins! Panic set in. WHAT IS ALL THIS!? And more importantly… Why does everyone know this stuff but me?
I knew protein shakes were commonplace for athletes of certain workout persuasions. Your typical hip mom might whip up a green smoothie to sneak some veggies into her kids’ diets. But this, this was a on a different level. I think in total I received no less than 18 recommendations of protein sources. Sweet Jesus, why are there so many? I was perplexed. Health and nutrition is important to me, but I’ve always stayed away from protein powders because 1) I think they taste like chalk and 2) I prefer to eat my nutrition rather than drink it. This Facebook post threw my entire nutritional philosophy into question – What have I been missing out on?
I always assumed I was constantly fatigued because my three-year old still doesn’t sleep through the night. (You can pity me, I don’t mind.) Now I think I just haven’t been drinking enough protein. I had guessed that the few pounds I’d put on since retiring as a fitness instructor was because I’d gotten a tad lazy – but maybe not! Maybe I just need a protein shake every morning and I’ll be back in tip-top shape! I bet my bum knee will be healed, too, once I start drinking the protein. Probably also the tendonitis in my arm. Especially if I add turmeric to the protein shakes. BECAUSE TURMERIC REDUCES INFLAMMATION! FACEBOOK TOLD ME! Throw in some collagen and I’m going to have shiny hair and strong nails and luminous skin because collagen is magic and the cure to all that ails you. What else can I add to revolutionize my diet AND MY LIFE? Chia! Hemp! Flax! All the seeds! Oh, and coconut everything. Must not forget the nut butters! And maca powder – I actually have no idea what maca powder is but it was in the health aisle at Target and I will not be denied. I also purchased some acai packets – even though nobody suggested it – because I thought acai was a magical superfood. Is acai out? Acai, out. Kefir, in?**
I’m a little bitter that no one told me protein supplements are a thing now. But I’ll forgive and move on. I’m not going to miss out any longer. I’ve stocked up. I bought the four most-recommended brands (according to my Facebook friends) and all the aforementioned health foods. You may call that overkill; I call it commitment. I’m all in, baby! My dining room table is basically a mini Whole Foods. And yes, this all cost a small fortune. I make no apologies. I’m reclaiming my health! Time to get blending.
*I relapsed, meaning my bite has gradually opened up over the past decade to the point of needing to be surgically closed again.
**I don’t get kefir. Isn’t it just milk? Milk with probiotics? Help me understand.