Eating and nutrition

Whatever has been the cause of these, obesity occurs when adverse eating behaviours and food choices creep into your diet to such an extent that you have been unable to combat them. Having surgery is an opportunity to eradicate those problems and also ensure that your food choices provide optimum nutrition to keep your body in its new, improved state of health. At BOSPA we don’t ever talk about ‘diets’ in relation to obesity surgery – many of us have been following one diet or another for most of our lives and can all tell you that diets don’t work! We prefer to talk about eating plans, concentrating on the foods we should eat more of, rather than the foods we should not be eating. Not one of us is a saint and of course, we will have slips in our good intentions to eat healthily. But hey, slim people aren’t generally food-freaks either, they have the odd high-calorie snack or binge – the difference is they don’t so it very often and if they do, they tend to compensate by being more focussed on healthy eating for a while afterwards, or they increase their exercise to compensate for the increased calorie intake.

Virtually everyone uses food as a coping strategy at some time or another and we learn right from infancy that food is a great comforter. Problems arise if you rely too heavily on food to deal with life’s stresses and once established, this is a hard habit to break. Surgery helps to prevent you from overeating but you may need some help to find alternatives strategies to respond to your emotions rather than eating. Think about the fact that eating does not actually solve your problems, it is actually contributing to making them worse and the 5 minute high you have had from chocolate when you were down may have helped you to be in need of this drastic treatment now. A simple thing is to is when you are thinking about eating, stop and think, “Am I actually hungry or am I stressed or tired?”

Many social situations are centred around eating and you need to learn how to become more comfortable about choosing food that is best suited to your new eating pattern – you’ll want to fit in with everybody else and not be seen to stand out. You may not even want to tell people that you have had obesity surgery as it can lead to a string of other questions from a curious audience. Being more assertive at refusing food will become easier with practice – try saying “Thanks, but I’ve already eaten” or “I’m not hungry at the moment.” If that does not work, step it up a notch with “I know most people will snack but I am trying really hard only to eat when I am hungry.” For those who eat away from home on occasion, BOSPA provides members with a small card which can be discreetly handed to the waiter which asks for a small portion or requests the freedom to choose from the children’s menu.

The eating plan advice given in this section is very general. Each bariatric surgery team dietitian will have developed their own successful formula and their advice is what you should follow. However, we have provided this information for your general guidance.