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  1. 13 points
    1. Hummus. Despite being made from chickpeas, the average store bought hummus has only 1 gram of protein per tablespoon. Instead, opt for homemade hummus, homemade black bean dip or homemade Tzatziki (made with Greek yogurt) as dips for your veggies. All of these dips are significantly higher in protein when made at home compared to their store-bought counterparts. 2. Chicken broth. Surprisingly, the average store bought chicken broth has only 1-3 grams of protein per cup. For this reason, your bariatric team likely recommended you choose higher protein soups immediately after surgery (ex. milk based soups or pureed legume soups). Instead, opt for more filling thicker soups, such as a curried lentil soup, a roasted red pepper black bean soup or a hearty chili. 3. Cream cheese. Despite ‘cheese’ being in its name, the average store bought cream cheese has only 1 gram of protein per tablespoon. Instead, opt for ricotta cheese (with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and a drizzle of honey!) or peanut butter on your morning toast. 4. Quinoa. Quinoa is a filling grain product not because of its protein content, but more because of its fibre content. While quinoa is the only grain listed as a ‘complete’ protein, it only has 2 grams of protein per ¼ cup of cooked quinoa. Always top your quinoa with a true protein source such as meat, fish, legumes, tofu or tempeh to make your meal truly balanced. Quinoa should not be the main event! 5. Almond/Cashew/Rice/Coconut milk. Despite these beverages having ‘milk’ in their name, these alternative milks contain on average a measly 1 gram of protein per cup. Instead, opt for cow milk or soy milk when you are looking to add an extra splash of protein to your cereals, oatmeal or smoothies. Moral of the story? Don’t let misleading product names or sneaky advertising fool you! Get the facts. Always double check the nutrition facts tables on the back of your foods to learn the full story. - Monica & Lisa
  2. 4 points
    Louisa Latela

    Keep Your Word To Yourself!

    If you’ve made a commitment to change your diet, learn a new exercise routine, start or complete a project, be more assertive, or maybe connect with your intuition on a daily basis, know that you DO have the POWER to follow through with this. Set an intention to connect with and magnify your inner strength and focus. Often when we set out to make changes in our life we start obsessing about it and think way too far into the future which can overwhelm us: then we just say “Oh the heck with this: I’ll never be able to do that huge project or maintain that habit forever, why even bother?” If you notice your thoughts going in that direction slow down, take a deep breath, and get out of your head and into your body. Come back to the present moment. Take another breath. Ask “Is there one simple thing I can do in this moment to honor my commitment?” That might mean just not putting a piece of chocolate in your mouth in this moment: That’s it you did it! And I know you can do that again in the next moment!! Perhaps you will be guided to make a phone call. Pick up the phone and make that call. Or, there might not be anything you need to do in this very moment so relax into the not doing. It is important that you keep yourself surrounded by upbeat positive people and that you raise the vibrations of your surroundings as much as possible. Burn sage, put a crystal on your night stand or desk at work, keep plants and flowers in your environment, listen to uplifting music. Shield yourself from negative energies. Many of you who are drawn to read this are highly intuitive empaths: your are like psychic sponges who absorb the energies of the people near you and your environment. As part of your morning routine surround yourself with a beautiful white light ( or whatever color feels most safe and loving for you). The only thing that can penetrate this light is love and healing energies, no negative energy can pass through this. If you believe in angels, spirit guides, or any other sort of deity invite them to be with you throughout the day guiding you and keeping your thoughts and feelings uplifted and positive. Whenever possible remove yourself from negative situations, decline to engage in gossip or fear based conversations. Anger, negatively, jealousy and fear will only cause you pain. Clear your energy field daily: meditate, spend time in nature barefoot, take baths in epsom sales, move your body, drink plenty of water, etc. Law of Attraction/Source Energy is rooting for you and right by your side giving extra added energy to your thoughts. So keep your thoughts and focus on what you DO want to manifest. See yourself as happy fulfilled and loved….and know that is is so….. Feel gratitude knowing that your life is moving in the direction of your dreams gaining more and more momentum as your willingness to believe and receive all that is being offered to you opens and increases. BELIEVE and RECEIVE!! I'm sending you so much love! Go have an awesome day!! ❤️ Louisa!!
  3. 3 points
    There are many options when it comes to paying for bariatric surgery. Let's explore them. Click on each hyperlink to learn more on the topic. Having health insurance does not mean that weight-loss surgery is covered in your policy. About one quarter of people seeking weight-loss surgery will be denied three times before they receive weight-loss surgery insurance approval. If you have insurance coverage for bariatric surgery and are denied, you have the right to contest the decision and write a bariatric surgery insurance appeal letter. Since many health insurance plans exclude weight loss surgery, this leaves people faced with the decision to self-pay for bariatric surgery or to forgo what could very well be a life-saving procedure given the devastating effects of obesity and obesity-related diseases on health. An option is to take out a medical loan for weight-loss surgery. However, bariatric surgery is expensive if health insurance will not cover the surgery. And many people seek bariatric surgery outside the U.S. and engage in the process of weight loss surgery medical tourism. Thousands of individuals head to Mexico for Bariatric Surgery to realize excellent quality care, fast wait times, and attractive prices. With the question of safety of weight loss surgery in Mexico being being top of mind, I turned to Alex Brecher founder of BariatricPal Hospital MX for further exploration. Alex Brecher opened the BariatricPal Hospital MX in 2017 after having run a Mexico medical tourism business for 10 years. As far as free bariatric surgery in the US, while it will no doubt be a challenge, free weight-loss surgery is within the realm of possibility. Free or reduced cost WLS grants and charity care are available. There also are bariatric surgery clinical trials for surgical weight-loss candidates. Use our Match to Clinical Trials in 60-seconds widget on the bottom right column of MyBariatricLife.org to locate a trial near you.
  4. 3 points

    The Great Sugar Hunt

    Another helpful addition is “Added Sugars”, which is found under the carbohydrate information. Naturally occurring sugars are primarily from fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose). Vegetables and grains can also contain a small amount of naturally occurring sugar. For added sugars, look for the words sugar, syrup, agave, molasses, juice, beet sugar, brown sugar, turbinado and honey. Now that we have the total and added sugars, you can determine if the food or beverage is something you can work into your eating. While there are no formal guidelines, limiting foods and fluids to products that have less than 5 grams of added sugar is a starting point. A rule of thumb for carbohydrate foods is to eat the food that is closest to the farm. That means the least processed the better. For example, a peeled apple is better for you than applesauce. Applesauce is better for you than juice. One hundred percent real fruit juice is another way to say “sugar water” for bariatric patients. The Nutrition Facts Label will list naturally occurring sugars, but you won’t see added sugars listed. So, juice is a high sugar item. Your dietitian will assess your activity level, blood sugar readings, body composition and tolerances to help you find a healthy carbohydrate goal to work into your eating. We now have a better tool to hunt down the added sugars in our foods and beverages. Happy hunting!
  5. 2 points
    Almost everyone needs protein supplements right after weight loss surgery. Protein shakes and powders give you the protein you need when you’re not allowed to eat solid foods. But which types should you choose? And should you keep using them when you’re eating solid foods and surgery is long behind you? Protein for the Liquid Phase of the Post Weight Loss Surgery Diet Progression After a day or two of sticking to clear liquids, you progress to a full liquid diet. You can be on this diet for a few days, if you’re a lap-band patient, or a couple of weeks, if you have the gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. Protein sources include the following. Non-fat milk, with 90 calories and 8 grams of protein per 8 ounces. Non-fat milk powder, with 100 calories and 10 grams of protein per ounce. Low-sugar protein powder, with 110 calories and 25 grams of protein per ounce. Low-sugar protein shakes, with 100 or more calories and 15 or more grams of protein per 8 ounces. Without supplementing your diet with protein shakes and powders, you’re not going to be able to hit your 60 to 80 grams of protein. Protein Powders and Shakes in the Pureed Foods Phase This phase is really a transition phase. You’re adding foods back into your diet, but aren’t yet ready to eat chewy, sticky, crunchy, or other solid foods. Protein foods include the following. Non-fat cottage cheese, with 12 grams of protein per half-cup. Non-fat ricotta cheese, with 5 grams of protein per half-cup. Egg whites, with 4 grams of protein per extra-large white. Non-fat Greek or regular yogurt, with 8 to 14 grams of protein per container. During this phase, your surgeon will probably have you start to decrease your use of protein shakes and powders, but will probably recommend keeping them in your diet to help you get to 60 to 80 grams of protein per day. You might need one or two shakes a day, plus powder in foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, or pureed potatoes. Be Wary of Protein Supplements in the Long-Term Protein shakes and powders can be convenient, but they’re not your best bet for long-term weight loss. As you progress from pureed foods to semi-solid and then solid foods, your surgeon will probably recommend that you stop drinking shakes and focus instead on solid sources of protein. They’re more substantial and satisfying than liquid shakes. They take longer to eat than drinking shakes. They’re easier to fit into a real-life eating plan. You won’t be “drinking your calories.” They have more natural nutrients than processed shakes and powders. Most weight loss surgery patients can get enough protein just by choosing one or two high-protein foods for each meal. You’ll get 60 to 80 grams with the following foods. Breakfast: 2 scrambled egg whites with ½ light English muffin and some fruit. Lunch: ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese and a green salad with 3 ounces of canned light tuna. Dinner: 3 ounces of chicken breast and steamed spinach. Snack 1: 1 low-fat cheese stick. Snack 2: 1 6-ounce container of plain low-fat yogurt and ½ cup carrot sticks. When Protein Supplements Are Okay Still, some weight loss surgery patients may still need protein shakes and powders in the long term. That’s often the case for vertical sleeve patients if your sleeve fills up too quickly to allow you to eat enough solid protein throughout the day. Talk to your surgeon to find out whether you should still use shakes and powders. Your surgeon might suggest that you include one or two protein shakes a day as snacks or mix protein powder into your yogurt, cereal or other foods. Protein supplements can still come in handy even if you’re able to meet your protein requirements on your daily weight loss surgery diet. If your routine gets interrupted, you might come up short. Consider the protein you can miss if you need to change your regular plans for a meal or snack. 10 grams of protein if you run out the door without grabbing your yogurt in the morning. 22 grams of protein if you forget to pack your tuna for lunch. 26 grams of protein if you’re stuck in a meeting instead of cooking your chicken dinner at home. When you’re stuck in the car or too busy to plan ahead, protein shakes can be lifesavers. On vacation, you can take protein powder with you so you’re always sure to have a source when you need it. You could also try Unjury Protein’d Cheese Sauce on steamed vegetables for an extra 21 grams of protein. Read the Nutrition Facts Panel to Find Protein Content The Food and Drug Administration lets food manufacturers call a food “a good source of” protein if it has at least 5 grams of protein. If a serving has at least 10 grams of protein, a food can be labeled “high,” “rich in,” or “an excellent source of” protein. That doesn’t do you much good if you’re trying to find a shake or powder with at least 15 to 20 grams of protein per serving. Don’t rely on a claim on the front of the label when you’re looking for a protein supplement. You could end up with a “high-protein” shake with only 10 grams of protein! Instead, check the nutrition facts panel to see how many grams of protein the food or shake has per serving. Check the Label for Calories and Sugar Protein shakes and powders can be high in calories and sugar. A bottle of Special K Protein has only 10 grams of protein, but 190 calories and 18 grams of sugar. A Pure Protein Frosty Chocolate Shake has 15 grams of protein, but 190 calories and 25 grams of sugar. A can of Boost High Protein drink has 15 grams of protein, 240 calories and 27 grams of sugars. No matter which stage of your weight loss surgery diet you’re on, you can’t afford to eat too many calories or too much sugar. The only way to protect yourself is to read the labels. Protein supplements can be great choices for boosting your intake to 60 to 80 grams a day. Shakes and powders can get you through the liquid and pureed foods stages of the post-surgery diet progression, and they can have a place in your diet even when you reach your long-term weight loss surgery diet plan. Just make sure not to overuse them if your surgeon is concerned, and to choose low-sugar options.
  6. 2 points
    Why Does It Matter? Support during your Weight Loss Surgery journey can help you succeed. It is motivating to know that the people who love you are on your side. Through the long days of diet restrictions and dramatic lifestyle changes, your journey will be easier if your family members and friends pitch in however they can, whether with verbal encouragement or concrete changes such as avoiding eating off-limits foods in front of you. Still, it is important to remember that you CAN succeed, whether or not you get the support you hope for. Get to the Heart of the Matter First, make sure you know why they are against your weight loss surgery. It is often because they are afraid for your safety. They may know people – or know people who know people who know people – who had complications from Weight Loss Surgery. You can talk to them about the real risks of surgery – using statistics rather than hearsay – compared to the risks of remaining overweight. Still, do not assume that your safety is why they are negative about your decision. It is important to let them express their concerns and to address them directly. These are some other common reasons why your family and friends might have a negative gut reaction to your exciting news. They may be worried that you won’t be able to stick to the Weight Loss Surgery diet, and that you’ll be disappointed with the results. They may think you don’t need it. A lot of family members have trouble seeing how overweight you are, and understanding how much it interferes with your life and health. They may feel insulted. Parents especially may feel as though they have failed if they see you, their child, opt for surgery. They may feel threatened. Your significant other, for example, may be comfortable in the relationship you have had for years, and may worry that the way you feel about him/her will change as you lose weight. They may not know what it means for them. Friends may worry that you won’t want to hang out with them anymore, especially if your time together tends to revolve around food or if they think of you as their dependable “fat friend.” Whatever the true concern is, address it directly. Reassure your friends and family that you are doing this for you, and that you will not become a different person. Offer Them a Role Some friends and family members may feel overwhelmed by your news of Weight Loss Surgery, and that can lead to their negative response. Surprisingly, offering them ways to be more involved in the experience can actually help change their minds. They may feel better about your WLS once you tell them the details about the prep, procedure, and diet, and may even be grateful if you let them know specifically what they can do to help. Address Meal Times Directly Food is central to relationships at home and in social settings, so it is understandable if your loved ones are worried about how your upcoming Weight Loss Surgery will affect the time you spend together. If you think this may be a concern, discuss meals at home and in restaurants with your friends and family. Let them know that you will still be present at the table and interested in being good company, even if you are not eating as much as them or ordering the exact foods that they are. If you are comfortable with the situation, they are more likely to be. Agree to Disagree In most cases, family members mean well. It may be hard to remember or see in the heat of the moment, but they often do genuinely want the very best for you. If you have already tried your hardest to convince them to support your Weight Loss Surgery decision and they are not ready to do so, your next hope is to keep them as an ally in other aspects of your life. Hopefully, you and they can agree to disagree about your Weight Loss Surgery. You can let them know that you respect their opinion and will not be pressuring them to support your WLS. In exchange, you can ask them to continue to be your friend regardless of whether you are a bariatric surgery patient. Be Patient Sometimes, it just takes time. Your own Weight Loss Surgery success may be the best argument for why your loved ones should support you. It may take weeks, months, or a year, but they may come around as they see how happy you are, and as they realize how much they miss you. Bariatric surgery is a lot easier when everyone you love supports your decision, but that’s not always the case. Don’t let resistance from family members and friends get you down, though. They’re probably trying to act in your best interest, and in most cases, you can still get Weight Loss Surgery while keeping strong relationships with them.
  7. 2 points
    With the New Year comes the New Year Resolutions. For many people, one of the largest resolutions is a change in lifestyle - that includes losing weight! I remember my resolution in 2012 was to lose weight and get healthy. And I was able to do that with the help of the vertical sleeve. 2015 is going to hold that for many people and thousands of people undergo weight loss surgery to help them achieve their healthy goals for the new year. For those of you that are just thinking about surgery, I want to encourage you to know that you are not alone! You have a wealth of resources at your fingertips. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some amazing resources that you may find helpful on your journey! Websites BariatricPal.com Of course, BariatricPal is one of the very best websites to find information and support. Here there are “rooms” geared for each surgery as well as pages for recipes, articles, and much more. You will find information on everything you might want to know from before surgery to years after. I suggest checking out the Before/After pages for a good dose of motivation and inspiration! 7BitesShow.com 7 Bites is the first cooking series on YouTube geared specifically toward the bariatric community. The website has videos, recipes and blog posts. weightlosssurgerychannel.com Weight Loss Surgery Channel has a collection of videos on everything WLS related weather it be health, food and recipes, and more. BariatricFoodie The Bariatric Foodie has some great recipes for those that still love food, but want to stay on track TheWorldAccordingToEggface Eggface is one of the most popular of the bariatric cooking blogs. You will find great recipes, blog posts and giveaways on her blog. BariatricCookery.com This is a great resource page for everything from recipes to products. Books The “Big Book” series by Alex Breacher and Natalie Stein. There are four books in the series and all are great reads. They have a wealth of information on everything you need to know before, during and after surgery. The very best thing about these books is that they include personal stories from people that have been there. Breaking The Chains: A Guide To Bariatric Surgery by Jennifer DeMoss and Suzette Munson. The ladies of 7Bites pull from their and others’ experiences with weight loss surgery to provide a simplified, but comprehensive guide. Information on everything from how to pick your surgery and doctor to how to survive the first two weeks after surgery are included. The Sleeved Life by Pennie Nicola. This book tells about Pennie’s experience with the Vertical Sleeve procedure and discusses the ins and outs of the surgery from start to finish. Weight Loss Surgery For Dummies. The everything you ever wanted to know and then some guide to all things weight loss surgery. Many, MANY doctors and nurses recommend this book to their patients. Another great resource not listed here is your local bariatric support group! If you haven’t found one yet, contact your Surgery Center of Excellence or your nutritionist, they should be able to give you a good idea of one or two in your area. Or you can check out the list here on Bariatric Pal - it’s a very comprehensive list of support groups around the world!
  8. 2 points
    Bigger from Birth…And Then College Hit Michele was always big. She was at the top of her height and weight charts from the time she was an infant. She remembers times in her childhood when she couldn’t or wouldn’t participate because she was so big. She didn’t like physical education or sports, and the other children teased her. Food was a comfort. Michele describes the situation as a vicious cycle. The more kids teased her, the worse she felt. The worse she felt, the more she ate. The more she ate, the more she weighed. The more she weighed, the more she got teased. College was a disaster in terms of her weight. Forget about the freshman 15. What about the freshman 40? And the sophomore 40? Add to that the junior 40, the senior 40, and, for good measure, the super-senior (fifth-year) 67, and you now know how Michele Elbertson got to be 427 pounds at the age of 22 years. A Young Weight Loss Surgery Patient with New Relationships Michele made the decision to get the lap-band on her own. She needed a tool to help her control how much she ate, but understood that it was up to her to control what she ate. She only told her parents about her decision after she was sure about it. They were supportive, and have been since then. Michele has taken full advantage of and responsibility for the band. She has lost 260 pounds – 260 pounds! – in less than four years. As she says, she’s a determined person who will accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Michele began to “eat to live” rather than “live to eat.” As her relationships with food and exercise changed, so did her relationships with some friends. She lost some friends whose relationships centered only on food. She gained many more, though, through her new activities. She says the friends she’s gained through running and fitness far outweigh those she lost by changing her lifestyle. An Athlete Is Born Michele ran her first 5k after losing 100 pounds – when she was still 327 pounds. She was hooked. She loved the training, the atmosphere of the race, and the accomplishment. She has never looked back. Since then, she has run countless other races, including 38 half-marathons, 6 marathons, and a 50-miler ultra-marathon. She has also competed in triathlons. Now at an athletic 159 pounds, Michele has her sights on even greater challenges. In the near future, she wants to run a 100-miler and complete an Ironman. Both are feats that most people wouldn’t even dream of. Marathons, Ultras, and Ironmans Now, not everyone’s a distance runner or triathlete, so to understand Michele’s accomplishments, here are a few facts about these endurance sports. A marathon is 26.2 miles. All marathons are 26.2 miles. An ultra-marathon is anything over 26.2 miles. Michele’s recently completed ultra-marathon was 50 miles, and she is training for a 100-miler. A triathlon includes swimming, biking, and running. An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon. Fitting It All in Every Day Michele works out 6 days a week. Currently, she’s training for an ulta-marathon and is running 5 days a week and lifting weights 3 times. She also does Zumba classes. She takes a rest day once a week. Michele has built her life to be able to accommodate her training schedule. She recently quit her teaching career to focus instead on helping others achieve their fitness and health goals. She is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Working at a gym is pure genius – it leaves her with no excuse not to get her workout in! Eating Like a Bariathlete How do you have energy to train like an athlete and work full-time while losing over 200 pounds in 4 years? Ask Michele. Here’s how she eats and works out in a typical day. 7:00 a.m. breakfast: almonds and yogurt or eggs/romaine lettuce 9:00 a.m. snack: protein bar Workout, such as running, lifting, or group fitness class, such as Zumba or bokwa Noon. lunch: soup or salad, usually the largest meal of the day 2:00 p.m. snack: cheese and crackers or something small, equivalent to 200 calories (may include a fruit or vegetable) 4:00 p.m. snack: hot tea 6:00 p.m. dinner; lean protein, veggie, possibly a carb 7:30 p.m. snack: lemon water/hot tea. The number of calories Michele eats during a day is 1,800 (her resting metabolic rate) plus half of the calories she burns through exercise. So, if she runs 10 miles and burns 1,200 calories in exercise, she’ll eat 1,800 plus 600 calories, or 2,400 calories. She allows herself an occasional treat meal with junk food, but still counts those calories. The Accolades Michele is more than your typical bariatric patient, and she’s been getting the recognition she deserves for her extraordinary achievements. These are a few recent examples. Runner’s World magazine Cover Contest Finalist. Makeover on the Rachel Ray Show. Local feature on 6ABC Action News in Philadelphia. Dealing with Negativity – Don’t Worry About It One of the most striking things about Michele is her drive. She has worked very, very hard to get where she’s at today. She’s lost 60 percent of her body weight through being very disciplined every day. And, she has run marathons. Anyone who has run a marathon can tell you that it is was harder than they had ever imagined. Anyone who hasn’t run a marathon cannot imagine how difficult it is. But with all the publicity, Michele has receive a lot of nasty comments. How is she supposed to react when people slam her? They say she hasn’t accomplished anything, that the band has done it all. In fact, they basically say what a lot of weight loss surgery patients hear all the time from people who don’t know any better. So how does Michele react to negativity? She doesn’t want to respond directly and add “fuel to the fire.” She knows they don’t know anything about her, and she’s probably done more exercise and worked harder than they ever have. So, she just goes about her business. Leading by Example Michele says she hopes her successes and story will give others hope. She describes herself as a “real person” and “very down-to-earth,” and she hopes others will see that they can accomplish what she has. In the future, she would like to travel to seminars as a motivational speaker. In the meantime, we congratulate her on her amazing story and wish her well in her 100-miler this spring!
  9. 1 point
    When new bariatric patients come to my practice, one of the first things we discuss is how unimportant the operation will be for them, in the big picture. Once they recover from the shock of that news, we explain that their mindset contributed to their weight problem, and their mindset will be the secret weapon to ultimately get the weight off. Here’s the thing--we don't operate on your brain. Bariatric surgery will only take you so far. Long-term weight-loss success requires a firm commitment to living a healthy lifestyle—eating the right foods--and ignoring the others that made you feel bloated and too tired to do anything. You need to stay very well hydrated and discover an exercise (or two or three) that you perform about 4-5 times a week for about 30-40 minutes. Take this stress and… Then there’s the stress of everyday life—we all have it. The trick is to find ways to offset these unavoidable pressure points, so that you aren’t on a one-way road to the kitchen. Food is not the answer to your problems, it never was. While you are improving your health, feed your brain with positive feelings by improving the quality of your life. Make the effort to become more social: Join a gym, catch a movie with a long-lost friend, invite the nice parents of your child’s best friend over for coffee. Give a little, get a lot One of the activities I recommend to every bariatric patient is to give back to their community. Want to feel better than any junk food could make you feel? Volunteer. If you look around, you’ll see that you’re far more fortunate than you may realize. Help out, make life better for someone else, even in a small way. Give your time, give your heart. Everyone needs a little help If you think you can’t go it alone, reach out to your bariatric or family doctor to ask for resources who can offer mental health support specifically for people with food/weight issues. You are never in this battle alone, always remember that.
  10. 1 point
    Without a doubt, obesity is stigmatized. The unfair bias that you face may be a major factor in your decision to consider or get weight loss surgery. Unfortunately, you will probably find that the obesity discrimination continues even as you try to use weight loss surgery to get healthy. Obese patients are blamed for their conditions, healthcare providers are not always sympathetic, and coverage for weight loss surgery is not guaranteed. Why Do Obese Patients Get So Much Blame? People are increasingly sympathetic to diseases that used to be stigmatized. Examples include cancer, many mental health conditions, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and syphilis. Now, treatment for these and other conditions, such as diabetes, is widely accepted as normal and an entitlement. Each of these conditions is largely the result of lifestyle choices, such as diet, use of tobacco and/or alcohol, sexual behavior, and physical activity levels. More than 80% of cancers are likely the result of lifestyle choices. Ironically, though, many people in our society remain unsympathetic to obese people. They are quick to blame obese people for having no self-control, for refusing to follow a diet, and for not wanting to be healthy. You know, though, that those accusations are far from the truth. If you are considering weight loss surgery, you are confident that you have the self-control for the weight loss surgery diet, that you have tried to follow numerous diets but none have worked for you, and that you desperately want to be healthy! You Did Not Ask to Be Obese: Some Factors are Outside of Your Control More than one-third of American adults are obese, and another third are overweight. That in itself should remind you – and the people who judge you harshly – that fighting obesity is hard! The food environment includes fast food, vending machines, restaurants, food-focused social gatherings, and inexpensive snack foods. There are also biological and family factors that you cannot control. Skinny people have no idea that you may be feeling extreme hunger all day, every day, or that your metabolism may be slower. Your family might have raised to choose high-calorie, high-fat foods, or even driven you into unhealthy emotional eating. Research shows that some obese patients’ brains even respond differently to food compared to lower-weight individuals. Obese individuals, for example, tend to get less pleasure out of food, meaning they need to eat more to get satisfied. Furthermore, high-calorie foods like sugar can be addicting, leading to the same brain responses as cocaine does. But nobody blames cocaine addicts for their situations! Instead, they encourage counseling and intensive program to help them overcome their addictions, not punish them. Discrimination in Obesity Treatment: A Look at Weight Loss Surgery Versus Dialysis Just as unfair is the fact that the healthcare system continues the discrimination against obesity. Compare weight loss surgery as an obesity treatment with dialysis as a treatment for kidney failure (end-stage renal failure). Far from being blamed for their conditions, kidney failure patients who need dialysis are provided the respect that all people deserve and the medical care that they need. Dialysis patients of all ages in the United States are able to apply for Medicare, the government’s health insurance program normally reserved for older adults. Dialysis treatments can cost about $40,000 per year, not including This is not to mention human factors such as reduced quality of life (the vast majority of dialysis patients are too sick to work) and early death (the life expectancy of dialysis patients is about 5 years). In comparison, a typical weight loss surgery procedure in the United States can cost $20,000 to $40,000, although it can be less, and successful patients are healthier and have more energy than before surgery. The irony increases. The fact is that kidney failure usually results as a complication of type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension). Both of these conditions are often caused by obesity; losing weight after weight loss surgery can prevent, eliminate, or reduce these conditions. In addition, it takes years for kidney failure to develop once you have high blood pressure or diabetes – years during which patients are likely to be on costly medications and inconvenient treatments. Targeting obesity through weight loss surgery could prevent cases of diabetes and high blood pressure, reduce their effects in people who already have them, and prevent kidney failure, the need for dialysis, and early death. Searching for Fairness in the Medical Treatment of Obesity Your first barrier in your path to weight loss surgery may be your primary care physican (PCP). Some PCPs do not know much about weight loss surgery, or may be against it because they think obesity is your fault. Some PCPs take a narrow view of obesity, and feel that the only way to lose weight is for patients to “decide they want it badly enough” and “just eat less.” You already know that doesn’t work, so don’t let your PCP discourage you from learning more weight loss surgery if you think it might be the solution to your obesity struggles. Insurance coverage has improved for obesity treatments, especially for weight loss surgery. Medicare and many private healthcare coverage plans cover weight loss surgery if you meet their predetermined weight and/or health criteria. Some private insurance companies, though, take a short-term view because they want to make profits within 3 years. Since most weight loss surgeries do not pay for themselves within 3 years, some private insurers do not cover weight loss surgery despite the likelihood that they would pay for themselves within 5 or 10 years, and in addition improve your health and quality of life. Chance of Reduced Discrimination in the Future? The majority of Americans believe that health insurance should cover weight loss surgery, in addition to other obesity treatments such as dietetic and mental health counseling. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), though, is not the ultimate solution. In nearly half of states, obesity treatments are not required to be covered by plans sold on the health exchanges. This determination is based on the available competitive services in the region. Since the most obese states are the ones least likely to have competitive anti-obesity care, these states are also least likely to have obesity treatments covered under the Affordable Care Act. Overcome the Discrimination Discrimination is an unfair fact of life as an obese individual, and it unfortunately does not end when you decide to get healthy using weight loss surgery as a tool. These are some of the ways that you can keep going strong and overcome the barriers you encounter as you work to get healthy. You have the right to a second opinion if your primary care physician recommends against weight loss surgery but you would like to find out more. Do not take “no” for an answer from your insurance company if you know you are entitled to reimbursement for surgery. Do not listen to negative family members or friends who do not understand your obesity or interest in weight loss surgery. It is your life and health. Educate others as much as you can to try to reduce the discrimination. Chances are that they are only being discriminatory out of ignorance, not out of true mean-spiritedness. Like it or not, some discrimination remains as you go through your weight loss journey. You cannot prevent it, but you can change how you react to it. Expect it and respond as positively as you can, keeping your own health and goals in mind. Over time, as you and others prove that weight loss surgery can be a worthwhile treatment for obesity, discrimination by insurance companies, healthcare providers, and the public will decrease.

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