Bariatric Surgery Sabotaging Thoughts

Last week, Dr. Judith Beck and I presented at a Bariatric Surgery conference and we spoke about helping bariatric surgery patients change their thinking to help them better adjust to their new lifestyles and stick with their new way of eating.  Here are some sabotaging thoughts and responses that are particularly relevant for people who have had (or are thinking about having) some type of bariatric surgery.

Sabotaging Thought: Now that I’ve had the surgery, it’s not fair that I can’t eat normally.

Response: I need to change my definition of ‘normal’ eating.  I actually am eating 100% normally for someone who has had bariatric surgery. The way I used to eat is no longer normal (and remember – it was likely never really “normal” in the first place because it caused me to be overweight). My new normal is following my diet.


Sabotaging Thought: I won’t be able to take part in big celebratory meals anymore

Response: I can still celebrate occasions without overeating or overdrinking. I don’t have to make toasts with alcohol in my glass, I can celebrate a birthday even though I’m only eating a little (or no) cake, and I can still take part in the social aspects of special events regardless of what I eat.  What I’m eating or not eating does not have to determine how much enjoyment I get.  Besides, once I lose weight, I’ll get to enjoy looking and feeling great – which will be so much more pleasurable.


Sabotaging Thought: I’m afraid I won’t know who I am after losing so much weight.

Response: It’s true, things will look and feel very differently. It may require some renegotiation on my part to figure out where I fit in, and renegotiations with others to figure out our relationships, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  It’s better than the alternative of staying overweight, feeling miserable, and continuing to be stuck in an unhappy and unhealthy place. 


Sabotaging Thought: I’m sad I won’t be able to binge anymore.

Response: By having this surgery done, I am giving some things up and there are definitely disadvantages. It’s okay to be sad about what I’m losing, but it’s also important to think about how much I’m gaining, and how all-encompassingly great those things are, like better health, self-pride, and confidence.   I’ll be giving some things up, but in many ways, I’ll be getting my life back in return.


Sabotaging Thought: I’m afraid that I won’t be able to handle so much change.

Response: Thank goodness things will change! I need change to keep moving forward and to improve my life. Change can initially be scary, but that doesn’t mean I can’t handle it, and that doesn’t mean it won’t be 100% worth it.

2 replies
  1. gettingtoknowhealth
    gettingtoknowhealth says:

    I’m not a big fan of bariatric surgery. I know of a handful of people in my life who have had it done & they let the surgery do all of the work for them without making healthy changes. I’m not saying that this is the same for everyone and I know that there still is a chance that you can gain weight if the stomach stretches again. I’m sure bariatric is good for morbidly obese people who cannot lose weight on their own, but losing weight the natural way (through reduced caloric intake and exercise) is so much more beneficial to your body and health.

    My mom had this weight loss surgery done about 6 years ago and, honestly, she is one of the unhealthiest people I know. My brother is an RN and says that she has the diet equivalent of an anorexic person. She is thin because of the surgery but she lives on candy, sweets, chocolates and only eats a small amount of real “food”.

    I am not bashing this surgery completely, but I honestly think that hospitals need to offer more “healthy” counseling to bariatric patients. My mom NEVER went to a class or a counselor who told her how and what to eat, when to exercise, etc. All the doctor told her was she would lose weight and be able to shop for “cute clothes”. Bariatric patients need to know that exercise is essential for better health and that their old eating habits need to be thrown out the window.

    As someone who’s lost 80lbs with reducing caloric intake and with regular exercise, I see just how different my mother’s weight loss is compared to my own. My mother looks pale and anemic while I am toning my body and I have better health because of the amount of veggies and fruits I eat.


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