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A word from a bariatric psychologist

Working as a psychologist in a bariatric surgery unit, I am always surprised when my first meeting with a bariatric patient is their first opportunity to express their struggles and frustrations with living with obesity. I have come to realise that one of the main reasons that people avoid discussing and acknowledging the difficulties they experience, is the (mis)perceptions - society’s and their own - surrounding obesity.

Common misconceptions

The common misperception of society is that patients become obese due to a lack of discipline. The unavoidable conclusion by the self-appointed “experts” then follows: these people only have themselves to blame. This unsympathetic and uninformed perception naturally creates resistance and anxiety in persons living with obesity to share their daily toils with anyone. This in turn creates a stumbling block to any attempts to seek assistance. Society’s uninformed haste to judge people because of their appearance becomes a huge contributing factor in the failure of obese people to seek and receive assistance.

In the bariatric community we know that overcoming obesity is a very difficult and cumbersome journey. Most obese people have struggled with their weight from a very young age. In most cases these children or young people did not receive any guidance as to healthy sustainable habits in relation to eating and exercise.

Changing habits

With this first blog there is one important message that I want to highlight.

If you have had bariatric surgery, let this be a reminder. If you are still considering bariatric surgery, may this serve as encouragement.

To change habits during your bariatric journey will be difficult but not impossible. Sometimes, although we are motivated to change, our expectations may be generally unrealistic. The necessary discipline to create and follow healthy lifestyle and eating habits will only be possible if we remain realistic in our expectations. Continuous small changes daily and weekly will eventually result in the desired big changes. It is possible and worthwhile.

Consider joining our Reconstruct Community Bookclub. Over the next few months we will be reading "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.

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