POST SURGERY SUCCESS

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - REAL LIFE -

Paulette’s is a success story shared by about 60 per cent of peo­ple who un­dergo weight loss surgery. The rest will re­gain some or all of those lost ki­los. That’s still bet­ter odds than any diet gives – around 97 per cent of di­eters re­gain weight – but bariatric nurse Kate Ber­ridge reck­ons we could do bet­ter. Kate con­ducted a study look­ing at what af­fects long-term success fol­low­ing surgery. She wanted to know how best to help pa­tients once they hit that cru­cial point 18 months down the track, when the body re­cal­i­brates and the ap­petite comes back. “Life con­tin­ues, stress hap­pens,” she says. “Just be­cause we’ve re­duced your stom­ach doesn’t change who you are and how you do things. If your cop­ing mech­a­nism be­fore surgery was to self­soothe with food, it’s not go­ing to change.” It’s easy to re­gain weight. Bariatric pa­tients talk of “slider foods”, things that go down eas­ily with lit­tle or no feel­ing of re­stric­tion, like crack­ers, pop­corn or soft cheese, in­creas­ing calorific in­take. “And what I com­monly see is that food no longer soothes, so peo­ple deal with stress in a new way,” says Kate. “They trans­fer ad­dic­tion, and use al­co­hol in­stead.” Her re­search showed that those who suc­ceed af­ter weight loss surgery fol­low the dietitian’s guide­lines be­cause they have a strong sense of self-worth. If you don’t like your­self, if years of yo-yo di­et­ing have led to a deep sense of shame, you’re go­ing to con­tinue to find ways to self-harm. That’s why Kate has de­vel­oped Be­yond Obe­sity, a well­ness pro­gramme to pro­vide sup­port and guid­ance for peo­ple post surgery. It’s not just about eat­ing dif­fer­ently, but think­ing dif­fer­ently. She helps her clients to sep­a­rate the emo­tional “head hunger” from real hunger and she teaches a tech­nique called “urge surf­ing” to man­age crav­ings. Most of all, she en­cour­ages them to start lik­ing them­selves. “Un­til I started do­ing this I had no idea how dif­fi­cult life is for those who are mor­bidly obese,” she says. “If you could hear the con­ver­sa­tions I have with peo­ple; how much they hate them­selves be­cause of their weight, it’s heart­break­ing.”

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