Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 14: My smoothies bring all the boys to the yard (diet after jaw surgery)

It's now been two weeks since my surgery, which also means it has been two weeks since I started a liquid only diet.  Aside from wanting to stuff my face with the biggest burger known to mankind, I'm getting quite used to my new diet and coming up with creative ideas for my meals.  Making your own smoothies and meals is so much better for you than drinking store bought protein drinks - because no matter how the packaging looks, those things are full of sugar and artificial ingredients.

So for today, I thought I'd share some of my favourite smoothie recipes.

First you will need:
  • A personal blender of some description.  But before you rush out to buy a nutri-bullet (seriously those ads are becoming annoying), please shop around.  Here in Australia they charge almost $300 for the nutri-bullet, which sells in the USA for less than $100.  Instead, I bought a Sunbeam personal blender for around $45 and it does exactly the same thing.  And no matter what those ads say - it's a bloody blender, not a 'nutrition extractor'.  That's like calling a treadmill a 'fat pulveriser'. 
  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables.  I suggest either buying the snap frozen kind or buying fresh and freezing them yourself.  It saves adding extra ice or water to your smoothies and of course makes them last a lot longer.
  • Supplements - I have whey protein isolate which is 100% milk protein with no added rubbish.  I also keep chia seeds for when whey protein powder will not suit.  Unless I am blending a meal that already has lots of protein, I always try to use one of these supplements.
  • Natural greek yoghurt - a great way to add a little more protein.  It tastes great too.
  • Creativity - you would not believe what can be blended.  Use your imagination.  

The basics

A smoothie requires not only ingredients to make it interesting, but some kind of liquid to help blend everything together and allow you to drink it.  A lot of recipes call for water or ice to do this and that's fine if you are wanting to keep the calories down, however as I am replacing all of my meals with liquid I use almond milk.  It's still very low in fat and sugars compared to regular milk and has a good amount of protein to keep me going.  In smoothies with a fruit juice base, I use my juicer where possible to make it fresh.

On to the recipes!

The below recipes are my favourites, but remember to experiment with whatever you like.  You can add almost anything into a smoothie.

Breakfast - Banana Berry Smoothie

This is my favourite morning smoothie and I drink this almost every day.  It's full of fibre, antioxidants and lots of nutrients - plus the added protein and oats ensure you get a quick energy kick as well as sustained energy release throughout the morning.  If you like caffeine and want an even bigger kick, use half almond milk and half strong coffee.  It's great!  Below is the recipe, however I've also created a YouTube video to show how I make this smoothie.  Click on the video link below.

1/2 banana
4-5 strawberries
A small handful of blueberries
1 cup of uncooked oats
2 heaped teaspoons peanut butter
1 scoop of protein powder
1 tablespoon greek yoghurt
Almond milk

Lunch - Mean Green Smoothie

Half an orange - seedless or seeds removed
A handful of kale or spinach (honestly, you cannot taste this in the smoothie - but it's great for you)
1/2 banana
A couple of leaves of fresh mint
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon greek yoghurt
Almond milk

If you like a little extra zest you can also add some kiwi fruit and/or pineapple.

Dinner - Blend a regular meal with a liquid base

I was very lucky when recovering from surgery to have a friend staying with me for the first two weeks.  While I was thinking within the constraints of fruit and vegetable smoothies, it was her idea to blend my usual meals into dinner drinks.  Some of my favourites so far are as follows:

  • Ravioli blended with tomato soup.
  • Spaghetti bolognese blended with tomato soup.
  • Pizza blended with tomato soup.
  • Thai Tom Yum soup blended - noodles, vegetables and all.
  • A chicken burger blended with chicken stock - that means the bun, the cheese and the veggies.
  • Chinese stir fried beef with mushrooms, blended with noodles and beef stock.
At first blending some of these meals seems like quite a gross idea, but they actually taste pretty amazing.  The nest thing is that while they are not solid food, they still satisfy the taste cravings associated with solid food.  Plus these can be made as thick as you like to help you feel fuller.

I hope you've enjoyed this post and that it helps with your meal planning.  Of course Google is a great resource for smoothie recipes as is YouTube.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Days 11-12: Post surgery appointments and I'm feeling fantastic!

Over the last couple of days I have had follow up appointments with both my orthodontist and my maxillofacial surgeon to check on my progress.  My temporary live-in carer (aka Cindi, my amazing friend from California) is still in Australia so it was fun to be able to take her along to my appointments.  I really wanted her to meet the people who have been taking care of me.

First was my orthodontist appointment on the Monday morning.  I absolutely love visiting the office of my orthodontist because the team there are so warm and friendly.  They were all really excited to see me and commented on how good the results looked, which of course made me feel great.  The appointment was a fairly quick one and my elastic bands were changed to a different configuration.  Elastics are really important after jaw surgery as they guide/train your jaw to its new bite.

My beautiful new elastics!
The appointment with my surgeon the following day was a general check-up to see how I am healing and if I was having any discomfort or pain.  I can honestly say that I am feeling pretty wonderful - especially considering my surgery was less than two weeks ago.  Aside from the first few days which were very uncomfortable, I have had no pain or soreness, no major trouble talking, no trouble sleeping, no bleeding and no sickness or nausea.  Even my surgeon commented that I seem to be a couple of weeks ahead of where they would expect me to be.

I'm not writing this to gloat, but hopefully to give some hope to others going through (or about to go through) this process.  It's not all dribbling and pain and my surgeon puts my fast recovery down to my positive attitude.  I absolutely agree with this, because it is amazing what your body can do and how fast it can heal when you feel happy and positive.  I also put it down to having a fairly high pain threshold.

I took the opportunity to ask my surgeon again about what he did during surgery (the last time we discussed this I was in hospital in a drug fuelled state) and I have to say it is nothing short of amazing.  He explained that at my next appointment they would be taking an x-ray so I could see the results, but I already see the results every single day and here are the latest photos.

The most important question I wanted to ask my surgeon - when could I start brushing my teeth?  He said that I could have been doing that already (which I didn't realise) and gave me some tips on how to brush and where to be careful.  So the first thing I did on returning home was brush my teeth for at least ten minutes and I can tell you, it felt great!  Fresh breath ahoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Days 8-10: Big journeys start with small steps

It has certainly been a busy weekend and I didn't do too bad at keeping up.  Cindi's niece (also from California) has been studying in Melbourne for the last few months and came to spend a weekend with us in Sydney.  It would have been a shame for them to not see each other,  so we agreed that I would join in for as much as I could and rest as much as needed.

I really got to test myself in terms of how much energy I had and just how much I could (and couldn't) do in three days.  We managed to power through the majority of the iconic sights of Sydney, but while we took the car to most places, it still caught up on me big time.  If I'm honest, I probably pushed myself a little too far.  The swelling on my face has been going down rapidly and I am speaking better than ever, but I need to remember that I am still recovering and only just over a week out of the operating theatre.  So my advice would be to listen to your body and take small steps.  And if you do go out for a full day make sure you take extra smoothies with you for in-between meal snacks.

I'm slowly seeing the changes to my jawline and loving my much shorter face and squarer jaw.  Because my upper jaw was taken upwards, it means that my mouth now naturally sits in the closed position.  Prior to surgery I had to consciously close my mouth.  And even then it looked odd.

Here are a couple of pictures (taken on day 9, 25th October) of my progress so far.

You can see that my jawline and chin have taken on a new shape

My side profile looks a lot more balanced than before my surgery - the overbite is gone!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 7: When all else fails, take a nap

Napping is officially my new favourite pastime - in fact it's become a necessity.  While I'm eating (and by eating I mean drinking) lots each day and getting some exercise, I need to remember that my body is still healing and getting over surgery and that I shouldn't push myself.  Luckily for me, Cindi reminds me of the fact that I need to rest and she has also joined the napping club.  

Today was no exception as my morning involved a lot more exercise that the previous few days.  We took a short drive to the local Medicare office to claim some of the money back on my surgical fees.  Medicare is the national health system in Australia which partly funds medical costs for all citizens (very different to Medicare in the U.S).  By the time we returned it was time for another early afternoon nap.  The evening was spent walking into Newtown (my local area) and even stopping for a quick beer at the local pub which I did not think I would be doing only seven days after surgery.

A friend popped over for dinner in the evening which consisted of take away food from the local Italian restaurant - and I even got my dinner from there as well.  You'd be surprised at what you can blend for dinner and it's been interesting testing out some new recipes, but more on that in a later post.

I'm now 3kg down in weight from the day I went for surgery, so that will be something to watch as the days go by.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 6: Pumpkin and spice and all things nice

I'm really happy to say that having major jaw surgery has not stopped me from being able to drink coffee, albeit through a straw.  And what a treat that my friend Cindi bought pumpkin spiced coffee with her all the way from California.  It's really become a lovely treat in the morning.

Today I ventured out for another walk (with my trusty minder in tow) for around 10 minutes and once again I was exhausted, but glad to be out and getting some sunshine and exercise.  My doctor had said that it will take some time for my energy to return and considering only six days had passed since my surgery I was not too worried.  Then we settled in for our afternoon/evening on the couch to watch movies.

No photo updates today but just thought I'd keep you up to date with my progress.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 5: It's all yellow

Today I've noticed a couple of things:

  • I'm becoming very bruised on my arms, neck and chest - a good sign that my body is healing.
  • My face is starting to tingle in different places and there is an itch I cannot scratch.
  • The shape of my face is changing each day and I wonder what the final result will be.
  • I absolutely need a shave although I'm also liking this rugged, manly look on me.


I'm getting quite used to this whole liquid diet and the weight is dropping off pretty quickly.  If there is one suggestion I can make to anyone about to go through this surgery, it is to bulk up beforehand.  I purposely put on 5kg (11 pounds), but I'm losing it pretty quickly and feel like I should be writing a Bridget Jones style diary: 

OK, maybe not.

Today I participated in a little outdoor exercise as I felt that the swelling had gone down enough to not make children scream.  And by a little bit of exercise I mean walking to the car and back.  This completely exhausted me.  Although Cindi and I are packing lots of nutrients into my smoothies we realised that I need more protein - cue an online order of 1kg of whey protein isolate.  We are by no means nutritionists - although Cindi does know a lot about health, but packing more protein and fibre into my liquid meals will ensure that I feel satisfied for longer while at the same time giving sustained energy release.  Compare that to sugars and carbohydrates that give a quick burst of energy that then decline rather rapidly.

Anyhow here is an updated photo of how I am looking so far.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 4: I wish they all could be California girls

Monday was very exciting as it was the day my amazing friend Cindi arrived from California.  Cindi has travelled all this way to take care of me for my first two weeks of recovery.  I said it before and I'll say it again - I'm lucky to have such amazing people in my life.  A friend of mine who stayed the previous night went to the airport to pick her up and in no time at all they had arrived back at my apartment.

Cindi and I have become a little spoilt recently with the frequency of seeing each other.  The last time was only four months ago in June when I surprised her at her home in California for her birthday.  And only six months before that I had spent Christmas and New Year at her home.  Regardless of only four months passing though, we drank coffee and talked for as long as we both could.  Cindi of course was quite tired (it's a long journey from her home in Napa to Sydney) so we both took long naps. 

In terms of my recovery - my sinuses are still very congested and I'm finding it a little difficult to breathe through my nose.  My face and neck are still swollen but I am in no pain.  I have no energy though so am trying to take my recovery as slowly as I can.