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Snacking, Fear, Greed and the Gastric Bypass Tool


Do you remember nodding your head with understanding during your pre/post WLS seminar when the speaker said, "Gastric bypass is only a tool, the rest is up to you." I nodded my head to the nurse dietician as she spoke to the room of fresh-out-of-surgery gastric bypass patients. We thought we understood "only a tool."

But the words "only a tool" are vague. It would be more accurate to tell new patients, "I'm sending you back into the very world that made you fat. Nothing in your environment has changed. In fact, the only thing that has changed is you - every external force that acted upon you 10-days ago is still out there. You are going to have to claw and fight your way in that same world resisting the habits and instincts that caused you to be obese in the first place. The only weapon you have is a little stomach and impaired absorption system - this is the tool. You will still have emotional highs and lows, days of self-doubt and days of celebration. There will be food pushers, saboteurs and cheerleaders along the way, but the burden is on you to use the tool."

"It's only a tool." Frankly, sometimes I get sick of hearing that and sick of saying it.

Financial planners say people manage their money with two emotions: fear and greed. They fear losing money or fear not having enough money. Greed manifests when they want more money or presume they never have enough money.

I suggest in many instances we use the same emotions to manage our eating behavior, before surgery, after surgery, regardless of the fact that we have "the tool."

Fear could be about wasting food, betraying friendships, damaging relationships. We fear the discomfort of stress, boredom or loneliness and manage those emotions with food. In addition, WLS patients are known to fear weight loss success because we've never really accomplished massive, lasting weight loss before - success is an unknown place to be.

Greed could be about always wanting more, one more taste, one more bite, one more piece. Greed could be the frantic collection of a snacking-stash for "just in case" moments when we really "need" something fast. Greed results from "worthiness" - I have done my exercise so now I deserve a reward - which often is a snack or treat.

By managing our emotions with fear and greed we caused, in part, our obesity and ultimately that led to morbid obesity. Given thoughtful contemplation I am certain we can list the fears and the greed that got us to the surgical table.

But what if fear and greed could work in our favor if we teamed them with "the tool"? Would fear and greed, emotions we love and hate, be a good thing? Consider this:

What if I fear dumping/vomiting/weight gain if I eat Nutter-Butter cookies? Or popcorn? Or crackers? Or, or, or.

What if I fear the co-morbidity of Type II Diabetes returning if I engage in mindless snacking?

What if I fear the cruel things people will say (and they will say cruel things) if I regain my weight?

What if I fear having to buy bigger clothes because I'm snacking and regaining weight?

What if I fear having to return to the surgical table for a revision surgery because I couldn't get a handle on my eating habits?

What if I'm greedy and want to live long and healthy to see my children and grandchildren grow-up?

What if I'm greedy and love the pleasure of active living that weight loss has given me?

What if I'm greedy and don't want to spend money on prescription medicine for ailments I no longer suffer because I've lost weight?

What if I'm greedy and want to hear more compliments about how healthy and fit I look after achieving massive weight loss?

What if I'm greedy and unwilling to sell-my-soul to the guilt-monster for a lousy indulgence?

I'm going to spend a lot of time considering how I can make these emotions work for me because I've got to conquer this snacking habit before I'm doomed.

Kaye Bailey © 2005 - All Rights Reserved

Kaye Bailey is a weight loss surgery success story having maintained her health and goal weight for 5+ years. An award winning journalist, she is the author and webmaster of http://www.livingafterwls.com and http://www.livingafterwls.blogspot.com

LivingAfterWLS is a no-nonsense resource for people Living After Weight Loss Surgery. Our community is growing in numbers even as we are shrinking in pounds. Together we support one another in this lifestyle, that it turns out, is NOT the easy way out.

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