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Regain Following Bariatric Surgery

Non compliance is always the main reason for any regains post bariatric surgery.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive in !

I have lots of messages and emails related to plateaus and stalls and regains during this time of the year.  I think people are getting revved up for the Thanksgiving holiday and seeing relatives and friends that they have not seen in a while. I think that bariatric patients begin to get that feeling that they need to prove something to others when it comes to their bariatric surgery journey. I am here to tell you that you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself.  It’s time to look at the real reasons for that plateau or stall or small regain. 

It is important to recognise different phases throughout your bariatric surgery journey and to figuratively “get a grip” on all of them before anything can spiral out of control.  I am going to say it again – “Non Compliance is the first reason for any downfalls”.

Let me go into more detail below….

The number one reason for any regains following bariatric surgery is simply patient non-compliance. Patients still have a “not so healthy” relationship with food that surgery alone cannot fix. They continue to consume high calorie coffees or fruit drinks and try to keep slider foods and trigger foods in their lives. These items are in great part what led to their obesity to begin with and can include sweets, bread, and alcohol. Trigger foods often do little to satisfy hunger but can create cravings. Successful patients engage in a post-surgical lifestyle that is free of trigger or slider foods. 

Another reason for regain post bariatric surgery is that within the first year post surgery, goals are quickly reached and without too much difficulty.  Many patients will compromise their post op plans that have been given to them and ignore the suggestions for maintenance from their nutritionists but still continue to drop the pounds.  When the body is used to the new physiology and the bad habits have not been changed, patients are going to have overall bad results.  The patterns of healthy exercise and nutrition needs to be developed during that first year post surgery.  It’s not too late to get back on track but patients need to admit to these flaws and work to change them right away and reach out for support to their nutritionists.

The last reason I am going to discuss is the lack of support that some bariatric patients feel post surgery.  They sometimes find themselves in a place where their friends and family are not supportive or they do not know how to lend good support.  This leaves patients in a place where they really need to rely on themselves and be self accountable for any gains or losses.  Success comes from the patient who maintains and develops support from people who understand the challenges of bariatric patients.  

The real point is to not blame your surgery this week if you “stray from healthy patterns” but try your best to get back to what you know works best and get back to the basics of your healthy bariatric lifestyle.  Reach out of you need any assistance on getting back on track.

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Nutritionist and Bariatric Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery patients for 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric patients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two teens, husband and two furry friends.

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