The Epic Binge Al Roker Went On Before His Gastric Bypass Surgery

We’ve all done it, let’s admit it. The final day before starting a diet or eating plan, we’ve enjoyed our last supper, that (what we think will be) final meal of pizza, wings, macaroni and cheese, brownies, and whatever other junky, glorious food we can find to eat.

Al Roker
Al Roker | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Al Roker shared in his book, Never Goin’ Back: Winning the Weight-loss Battle for Good, the details of his “happy meal” before submitting to the medical procedure that would profoundly change his life.

He was called Fat Albert in school

As the 65-year-old Roker tells it, weight has been a struggle for him all his life. From a young age growing up in Queens, Roker simply loved to eat. But since he wasn’t particularly athletic or active, he grew chubby and out of his clothes with each passing year.

For the most part, according to the beloved Today weather forecaster, his classmates did not tease him about his size. That changed when he got to high school, which coincided with Bill Cosby’s Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert cartoon special, which Roker watched and assumed, with dread, that his classmates were watching, as well.

“I remember watching it and being enamored with the animation,” Roker writes, “before a horrible rush fell over me. In a split second, I realized that I was Fat Albert. Oh God. I was black, fat, and named. . . gulp . . . Albert! My life was over.”

Roker went on to explain that, as much as he tried to get out of going to school, his mother wouldn’t buy any stories of him feeling sick and off he went. He arrived at school, flushed with relief that no one was calling him that awful name. Until they did.

“Much to my surprise, no one said a word at first. ‘Well, maybe nobody saw the show,’ I thought. But within five seconds of that wishful thinking, I heard eight or ten guys shout out, ‘Hey, hey, hey!’ I could feel my heart hit my toes as I lowered my head in shame.”

Roker’s ‘last meal’ before his surgery

About a week or so before his gastric bypass surgery, Roker attended the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and decided to eat whatever he set his eyes on for those two weeks. It was a smorgasbord of decadence and indulgence that lasted days and from which he added even more weight.

Al Roker, 2002
Al Roker, 2002 | Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic

“Once I’d made up my mind to have the surgery, I did something I had only dreamed about doing. I began to eat with wild abandon. I felt like a condemned man who knew he only had a short time left. I ate anything and everything that wasn’t nailed down.”

Roker left nothing off the menu.

“I had a hotel suite with its own kitchen,” Roker continued, “which I stocked with Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and where I made thick, gooey grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches, ate steak and onion rings ordered up from room service and enjoyed myself – a lot! . . . I had one hell of a food fiesta! . . . I weighed three hundred twenty pounds when I got to Salt Lake and had hit my all-time high of three hundred forty by the time we left. . . !”

He doesn’t regret the surgery one bit

While there are horror stories one hears from celebrities and regular folk about how gastric bypass surgery affected their lives negatively – either because it messed with their digestion, or because they transferred their food addiction to something else – for the morning show personality, it’s been a positive experience, one he’s glad he underwent.

Al Roker 2019
Al Roker 2019 | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“I am just now getting to a place where I no longer see myself as a fat guy. It had become so much a part of my persona that I hadn’t separated how the world saw me from how I still saw myself. . . I appreciate the happiness and freedom my newfound health has brought to my life. I now have the ability to see a pint of ice cream, have a single spoonful, and walk away.”

Read more: ‘Today Show’: What Al Roker Eats Each Day Without Fail