Weight Loss Surgery Requires Significant Lifestyle Changes

Weight Loss Surgery Requires Significant Lifestyle Changes

The prevalence of obesity continues to rise yearly, with latest statistics showing one-third of all adults in the U.S. are obese. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more, and is linked to several health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and sleep apnea. Many individuals are considering the option of making lifestyle changes through the method of weight loss surgery. For those with a BMI of 40 or more, or 35 to 40 with any one of these health concerns, surgery can be an effective way to reverse or improve these conditions, as well as help the patient shed excess pounds.

Weight Loss Surgery Does Not Cure Emotional Eating and Food Triggers

Due to its weight loss effectiveness, many people are attracted to the option of weight loss surgery. While surgery can certainly help an individual lose a tremendous amount of excess weight, there are certain aspects of any weight loss program that surgery cannot fix. One of these aspects is comfort foods. Comfort foods are generally eaten as a response to negative feelings of stress, rather than hunger. Some of these negative emotions are:

  • depression
  • boredom
  • loneliness
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • frustration
  • relationship problems

The tendency towards using food to comfort and soothe the stresses in life is not fixed by surgery. If struggling with emotional eating and food triggers before weight loss surgery, that struggle will continue.

Surgery does not change the way a person responds to food. When looking over the possibility of weight loss surgery, problems with emotional eating need to be taken under careful consideration. Giving into those cravings can cause weight loss stalls and even weight regain. Emotional distress will have to be handled differently after surgery.

Emotional Eating Bariatric Surgery Study

A study was done by Sarah Fischer and others on 144 Roux en Y gastric bypass surgery patients in regards to emotional eating. The purpose of the study was to discover the impact that pre-surgery eating patterns had on patients who underwent bariatric surgery.

The study found that those who were high emotional eaters before surgery tended to have higher levels of depression, binge eating, and eating in response to outside influences than lower emotional eaters prior to surgery did.

Weight Loss Surgery Success Depends on Making Lifestyle Changes

Bypass surgery restructures the digestive system. During the procedure the top of the stomach is stapled off and a smaller golf ball sized pouch is created to help the patient physically eat less. Part of the small intestine is then rerouted to decrease the area of absorption the surface of the intestine provides. As the pouch recovers, its size will slowly stretch until its capable of holding about 6 to 8oz of food.

This surgery procedure also causes an initial reduction in the hormone ghrelin. This hormone, when elevated, is responsible for making a person feel hungry. The lack of hunger associated with bariatric surgery is a temporary situation. Once the body heals and recovers from the procedure, hunger will return. It’s important to understand that despite the physical corrective measures, an individual still needs to focus on learning how to make healthy food choices.

If emotional eating is allowed to continue after surgery, it can sabotage a person’s weight loss efforts. For some individuals, emotional eating and food triggers pose a serious threat to the success of weight loss surgery. A significant amount of weight can be regained in the years following the surgical procedure if steps are not taken to overcome the tendency to use food for comfort.

Weight loss surgery has proven to be an effective tool to help a person reach their health and weight loss goals. However, the decision to enter into this type of program needs to be made carefully, with an understanding that even with weight loss surgery, weight loss will be a challenge. Finding ways to deal with life’s stresses and other negative emotions without turning to food will not be easy. Success is possible, but it takes desire, commitment, and above all else, total compliance to the program.

Categories: Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss