Eating Disorders after Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery brings so many positive changes. It is a new lifestyle and gives people the opportunity to take their life back. Bariatric patients have a huge transition of changing the way they look at food and exercise. It should be a priority to focus on both physical and mental health after weight loss surgery to ensure long-term success. However, it is important to remember not to go to the extreme. There is a chance that patients can develop additional eating disorders after surgery, so it is critical that you know the signs to look out for.
After surgery, it can be really easy to get caught up in the scale and become obsessed with how much you weigh. For me personally, there were times that I would let the scale affect my mood to the point where I would have an awful day if I did not lose any weight when I stepped on the scale in the morning. I would starve myself until I lost a pound and it was taking over my mind. My mental state was clearly not where it needed to be. I went from extreme binging to starving myself. Both of these habits are detrimental and can cause significant eating disorders.
Before you have bariatric surgery, you will have a psychological evaluation where they evaluate whether you currently have or are at risk for developing an eating disorder. It is important to recognize this so you can properly be treated. A lot of people think that eating disorders will go away after bariatric surgery, but the truth is they can come out more. Binging does become more difficult, but it is still possible after surgery. Bulimia might be something that patients turn to as it allows them to feel that they can still binge some, with purging afterwards. There was a period after my surgery where I was using laxatives. I did not realize how big of a problem it was until I started making deals with myself. I would tell myself it was alright for me to have a cupcake if I promised to take a laxative later. To be honest, I think the only reason I did not vomit was because I did not know how to make myself do it.
It can be really scary after bariatric surgery struggling with an eating disorder. More than likely, you probably suffer with some sort of binge eating disorder so learning how to cope with your new way of life is a critical step to your healing. You might take the total extreme and go from binging to complete restriction, which again is not healthy either. No matter where you fall, it is so important that you seek help. Eating disorders are extremely dangerous if they are not handled appropriately. Weight loss surgery is an amazing tool, but you have to make sure you are not abusing that tool. Therapy is something I highly recommend for anyone going through a bariatric journey. It will help you create a healthier relationship with food and learn new coping mechanisms. As much as you want to lose weight, it is so important that you are smart about it and you do not starve yourself. We must provide our bodies with the nutrition it needs to thrive.
If you find yourself starving yourself, binging, or purging, talk to someone. I promise you that it will not have a happy ending if you do not seek help. You must remember that you are not in this alone. There are so many patients out there going through the same thing. Recovery is hard. Really hard. This is a lifelong journey that we will always have to fight for, but please know you have people to support you. Find a support system. Talk to a therapist. Connect with other bariatric patients. You can get through this. One day at a time. You got this!
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