Eating Disorders after Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is an amazing tool that provides so many people with success on their weight loss journey. Bariatric patients can drop weight extremely fast after surgery and it truly is an amazing feeling. However, this can also be a dangerous thing for patients because we can get obsessed with the scale. This can backfire and cause us to go to the complete other extreme after weight loss surgery. It is important to balance yourself after surgery to make sure you are staying both mentally and physically healthy. You do not want to get so obsessed with your weight loss that you create a new problem for yourself.
I remember when I first had gastric sleeve, I was obsessed with the scale. I would weigh myself every single day and if I did not see the scale move, my day would be ruined. It got to the point where I would start starving myself to lose more weight. In the end though, I would never make it. I would go all day without eating and then at the end of the night, I would stuff my face with everything in sight. It was such an unhealthy way to look at this journey. It took me years to find a balance with my new lifestyle. I think it is easier for some than others, but one thing I have learned is how important it is to talk about your feelings with someone. So much of this is a mental journey and if you just try to put a band aide over your wounds, you will not fully embrace your new lifestyle. You must learn to accept yourself at every stage of this journey. Starving yourself on the days where you do not see the scale move is so detrimental. It is obviously horrible for your physical health to deprive yourself of food like that, but it can be extremely damaging to your mental health as well.
A lot of people worry that they will regain their weight after bariatric surgery and do no realize that there is also a risk to develop eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. I went through a stage where I would binge and then use laxatives after surgery. I was desperate. This surgery truly is only a tool and will not fix any emotional issues you have on this journey. I remember I would have a competition with myself to see if I could lose up to 3 pounds in a day. I would literally be disappointed if I only lost ½ pound a day. Looking back now, that is insanity! I would punish myself if I did not hit my unrealistic goals and it became such an issue that I was developing so many different eating disorders throughout my journey.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you after weight loss surgery is that you must mentally put the effort into this new lifestyle. You more than likely have some sort of a binging problem and it must be handled appropriately. Take advantage of the resources and support out there in the bariatric community. You do not have to fight this alone. I think it is completely healthy to set goals for yourself, but you must remember to not go overboard or you will fall to the opposite side of the spectrum and starve yourself. We must learn to look at food differently to be successful on this path. Be proud of your accomplishments, but know when enough is enough. If you are not sure if you are eating enough, work with your surgeon and nutritionist to make sure you are getting enough nutrition to stay healthy. Never forget why you started this journey in the first place. Remember that going to the other side of the spectrum will only cause more issues for you. This journey is not about being as skinny as you possibly can be. Hang in there! This is a lifelong fight and it takes courage to continue on.
- Kimberly H.