I recently read an interesting article on the the rise of weight loss surgery in Australia. Apparently, ‘hospital admissions for weight loss surgery more than doubled in the last decade.’ Bariatric surgery, as it’s also called, is a surgery that treats obesity and complications related to overweight. The aim is usually to promote weight loss by either decreasing the amount of food a patient can consume in one sitting or by creating a bypass of a portion of the small intestine which limits absorption. There are many upsides to bariatric surgery for some people in terms of preventing diabetes, relieving patients of physical problems such as joint or back pains, lowering the risk of heart attack, and so on.
However, if a person is food addicted, successful long-term results from bariatric surgery will only be possible if they also become conscious of their chemical dependency on food and undergo treatment that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of this addictive disease. This is explained in the book Bariatric Surgery and Food Addiction: Preoperative Considerations by Phil Werdell.
Why is that, you might wonder? Wouldn’t this weight loss surgery sort out my eating problem, given that I physically won’t be able to eat as much as before?
Well, it’s not quite that simple. Let’s go back to the article I mentioned. Discussing the Australian obesity crisis, it states that ‘of those who are clinically severely obese…few are treated beyond first line behavioural and lifestyle interventions…Unfortunately, optimal diet and exercise, while very effective at improving health and function, do not generate more than very modest sustained weight loss in the majority of adults’.
This is the precise reason so many people struggling with their weight turn to weight loss surgery in desperation. They just don’t seem to be able to follow any instructions relating to weight loss and exercise over sustained periods of time. That’s why they’re considering surgery as a more drastic, last resort option.
But here’s the catch: If you’re unable to follow dietary instructions with regards to food and exercise over sustained periods of time BEFORE surgery, how would you be able to follow post-operative guidelines AFTER surgery? Post-op guidelines such as going back to eating ‘normal’ food gradually, eating regular, smaller meals, chewing slowly, eating mindfully, eating nutritious foods are all common sense healthy eating guidelines that a large proportion of obese and overweight people don’t seem to be able to follow.
According to Werdell, many people who’ve had bariatric surgery did not realise that they are in fact, addicted to food. Those people often regain their weight back within a few years of surgery, develop complications, and even transfer their food addiction to another substance or process, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling and so on. In an attempt to eat ‘normally’ they are once again faced with the same outcome: They are powerless over their food intake and eat even when they feel physically full. This is not to say that bariatric surgery is bad for all people. But if you’re a food addict and your food addiction is not picked up before the operation, it can cause complications later.
Unfortunately, food addiction is not considered by clinicians nor patients as part of preoperative testing and preparations. This could easily be solved by adding a few questionnaires which are likely to pick up a food addiction to the pre-operative process. A simple 20-minute exercise that people could do in the comfort of their own home could save lives, time, and thousands of dollars – as well as thousands of kilos!!
But this is not the reality at the moment, as there simply is a lack of awareness of food addiction among the medical profession and the public at large.
So, if you or someone you know is considering weight loss surgery, it’s important to be well informed, learn about the potential risks of bariatric surgery and check yourself for food addiction first. This can easily be done by doing these questionnaires.
And then, if you realise you’re a food addict, what do you do? Get in touch! There IS A SOLUTION!