Debunking WLS Myths: Pregnancy and Weight Loss Surgery

Many women wonder how a potential pregnancy will affect their weight loss surgery plans and goals. Is it safe to get pregnant after surgery? Will it affect the baby? Will all weight loss plans be disrupted? How will a post-op pregnancy be different from a pre-op pregnancy?

While every case is different, there is a lot of reassuring evidence for post-op future mothers. In fact, research suggests that for most, a post-weight loss surgery pregnancy can actually be less risky than a pregnancy while obese.

Earlier in this series, we tackled common misconceptions about the public perception of weight loss surgery and its safety. Now we debunk myths surrounding weight loss surgery and pregnancy.

The waiting game
The first thing many women who want to get pregnant may wonder is how long they should wait after surgery. Though it depends on the type of bariatric surgery, typically it is recommended to wait 18 months before getting pregnant, so the body has time to stabilize. Once the period of rapid weight loss has leveled off, women are likely to be perfectly safe to get pregnant. It’s all about making sure the body is equipped to give both itself and the baby the right amount of nutrition. Before making any plans, be sure to talk with your doctor about specific timing for you and your needs.

Continued weight loss
Though it may seem a bit counterintuitive, many post-op women lose weight while pregnant and go on to have a completely healthy pregnancy. With that, it is important to monitor nutrition levels to make sure the body is properly metabolizing nutrients. Weight loss surgery changes the body’s relationship with certain nutrients, and pregnancy can make it even more difficult to properly absorb them. This is a great thing to bring up with your surgeon or a nutritionist that is familiar with bariatric patients.

Healthy and safe pregnancy
We’ve already debunked the myth that weight loss surgery isn’t a safe option. The same is true for pregnant women. Compared with pregnancies of women with obesity, post-WLS pregnancies have lower maternal complication rates and fewer cases of high blood pressure. The child benefits from a post-op pregnancy as well. There are fewer cases of premature deliveries, and they tend to have fewer cardiovascular risks compared to pre-op siblings.

Overall, a post-op pregnancy can have many benefits to both the mother and the child. Besides risk and complication reduction, the child’s future health is greatly impacted.
“Children born to previously obese mothers who had weight loss surgery may be less likely to become obese themselves,” according to one study.

Have more questions about post-weight loss surgery pregnancy? It helps to have a “navigator,” like Sharon Hillgartner at Texas Health Flower Mound. Find out more about Sharon here.

Not sure if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery? View our bariatric surgery guidelines here.

Four Important People in Your Life to Identify Before You Go Through Weight Loss Surgery

For many people, making the decision to have weight loss surgery is one of the most important decisions they make in their entire lives. Unlike some other surgeries, this one has reverberating effects, both physically and mentally, for the rest of one’s life. But going forward with the procedure is paramount.

It is for this reason so much thought goes into the pre-surgery process. Planning for the life that will be coming is something that will take time and effort. To help, here are four important people you should identify before going through with weight loss surgery:

1. Surgeon

Obviously, picking the right surgeon is one of the most important decisions you make ahead of your surgery. There are a lot of factors that go into this, including comfort with the physician, as well as what type of surgery is best for you, and if that is a specialty of the physician you select. Deciding what type of surgery is best depends on a variety of factors, ranging from BMI to family history to your own personal weight loss goals. Identifying what surgery is best for you will help identify the surgeon that will help with your weight loss transformation.

2. Navigator

Weight loss surgery is not like other surgeries that have a defined start and end date. Most surgeries involve a hospital stay, maybe some rehab, and then you return to your life. Weight loss surgery is a lifestyle transformation and a journey that goes far beyond the surgery itself. That’s why it’s so crucial to have a “navigator” to help along the way, from your first thought to have the surgery all the way through your post-surgery life. One such “navigator” is Sharon Hillgartner, Director of Specialty Services at Texas Health Flower Mound. As a bariatric coordinator, she guides patients through every step.

3. Family Supporter

Since weight loss surgery, or WLS, is such a life-changing experience, it’s important to have someone in your family who can help support your lifestyle changes. You’ll have to get your house ready for your new life and diet, and adjust your routine to support a new exercise focus. Having a member of the family who can support these changes is crucial to keeping you on track.

4. Community Member

WLS patients are a community – a tightknit unit that shares stories and can help provide support and advice along the way. A community member who has already gone through WLS can be a valuable asset as you begin your journey. Whether it’s a physical support group in your community, or a digital version through social media or a website message board, there are lots of options to find that community member you can work with along your journey.

Think you may be a candidate for WLS? Find out more about Texas Health Flower Mound and what we have to offer the community, and request an appointment.

Healthy Habits for Life After Weight Loss Surgery

Habits are the activities we choose to engage in on a daily basis. They are part of our lifestyle and determine how we interact with the world around us. Our daily habits have a profound effect on our lives and can either be destructive or constructive to our minds and bodies.

That is why developing healthy habits after weight loss surgery is instrumental to long-term health and weight loss success. The following are some nutritional, exercise, and behavioral habits that will help propel you towards your weight loss goals.

Nutritional Habits

A healthy diet is one of the most important variables in losing weight and keeping it off post-WLS. Here are some dietary habits to incorporate into your life after WLS:

Follow your post-op diet. After WLS, your body will not be able to process foods the same way. That is why it is crucial to follow the dietary guidelines provided by your doctor.

Keep a food journal. This will help you track the foods you eat and your calorie intake. There are various smartphone applications that help simplify logging foods and tracking calories.

Eat slowly. This will not only help you enjoy your meal, but will also allow your brain time to send fullness signals.

Recognize hunger cues. It is common to confuse appetite for hunger. That is why it is important to become in tune with your body and eat only when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. The Bariatric Center of Kansas City explains the physical signs of hunger to follow: “The stomach starts to ache and rumble in early signs of hunger. You start feeling tired and weak, while finding it harder to concentrate and work.”

Drink up. Staying hydrated is essential for every system in your body as well as for weight loss. Try to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.

Exercise Habits

Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day is important post-WLS, but there are also behavioral habits that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life to keep your body moving and burning calories. Here are some you should try:

Get moving. These can be small actions like parking farther away from your destination, taking the stairs or doing more chores around the house. These small actions add up to increased calorie burning.

Replace sitting with walking or standing. The more your body is moving, the more calories it is burning.

Pick up a new hobby. Find something you like to do that will also keep you active. These can be activities like golf or swimming or even as simple as gardening.

Behavioral Habits

Besides dietary and exercise habits, there are other behaviors you can routinely practice that will help keep your mind focused and body ready to achieve your weight loss goals. These include:

Get your sleep. Sleeping approximately 8 hours each night will help you avoid over-eating, make healthier decisions, and increase your metabolism. “On average, adults who get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night are more likely to lose weight,” explains Penn Medicine.

Manage your stress. Healthy stress management skills are essential for your overall life, but when it comes to weight loss, reducing stress will help prevent falling back into bad habits.

Find support. Whether this is from your family, friends, or bariatric support groups, sharing your goals and journey with others will create an environment of supportive accountability.

In your life after weight loss surgery, you will experience both positive physical and emotional changes. It is important to incorporate healthy nutritional, exercise, and behavioral habits into your daily routine to help you achieve long-term weight loss success. These habits may be difficult and happen slowly over time, but will help in improving your health and overall quality of life.

If you have questions about weight loss surgery, visit

Our navigator, Sharon Hillgartner, can also be a helpful resource. Find out more about Sharon here.

Easy Lemon Garlic Chicken and Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe To Start Your Healthy Eating Lifestyle

Eating healthy is part of an overall lifestyle, not an impulse-driven “diet.” Understanding this is important, whether you have just decided to undergo weight loss surgery and need an easy recipe to get in the habit of healthy eating, or are in the post-op stage where you are beginning to reintroduce solid food back into your diet. Once you understand that, your whole relationship with food can change.

A healthy diet consists mainly of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and proteins, with limited to no refined sugars or greasy foods. If you are post-operation and reintroducing solid food back into your diet, it is important to first consult your doctor about the right amount of fats, carbs and proteins that are best for your body during this time – and that depends largely on the WLS procedure you went through. And remember: introduce new foods slowly (one new item at a time), space out your food and water consumption by at least 30 minutes, and chew slowly. Check out this great timer from Baritastic App that you can use to make sure you are taking the recommended 15 seconds per bite.

To help get you started on your nutritional overhaul, we picked out an easy, healthy and inexpensive recipe you can make for one meal, or double to make enough for a second meal. This great-tasting recipe is for lemon garlic chicken and asparagus stir-fry!

One of the best ways to set yourself up for a healthy week is to pick one day a week to get all of your grocery shopping done. That way, when you’re feeling hungry, a healthy option can be just as fast and easy to reach for as swinging by a drive-through.

*Note: for those post-operation, serving sizes below may be disproportionate to your needs and should be adjusted based on your individual needs. Also, check with your surgeon or dietitian to see what phase you may add in this recipe.


1.39 lbs of boneless/skinless chicken breast
1 TB olive oil
2 cups chopped asparagus
½ tsp diced garlic
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sesame seeds (optional)
Pinch salt


First, cut chicken into strips and then dice into small bite-sized pieces. Season chicken with pinch of salt and pepper on all sides (pepper is your friend, go crazy if you like). In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1 TB of olive oil over medium heat. After about 3-5 minutes when oil is heated, add diced chicken pieces. Beware of any hot oil splash when adding chicken. Stir as needed.

Dice garlic into tiny pieces. Then chop asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Once chicken is medium-brown on all sides, add garlic, asparagus and lemon juice and stir together. Bring pan to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Plate, and enjoy!

(Images and recipe via SuberbCook)

Debunking WLS Myths: The Real Risks and Benefits

The utility of weight loss surgery is often misunderstood. The many misconceptions around its use, effectiveness and safety keep those suffering from obesity from getting the treatment they need.

“Nearly all American adults agree that obesity increases a person’s risk of dying early even if they don’t have any other health conditions. However, few consider obesity in and of itself as a disease,” according to a 2016 study.

By better understanding obesity as a disease and the benefits of its most effective treatment—weight loss surgery—we can help combat the many stigmas and barriers keeping people from seeking proper care.

Earlier in this series, we tackled the myth that weight loss surgery is the easy way out. Next up, we are debunking the belief that weight loss surgery isn’t safe. Here’s a breakdown of why that is just a myth:

Popular perception gets it wrong
According to the American Society for Metabolic Surgery (ASMBS), only one-third of Americans believe weight loss surgery to be safe. What two thirds of the population may not realize is that bariatric surgery has a 99.9% survival rate. While surgery isn’t a quick fix, it is a safe and effective tool to combat obesity.

Obesity isn’t all that’s helped
Those that suffer from obesity face many long-term health risks greater than the risks of weight loss surgery. Ailments associated with obesity like heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, joint paint and even cancer can be combated with weight loss surgery.

“Cancer mortality is reduced by 60 percent for bariatric patients. Death in association with diabetes is reduced by more than 90 percent and that from heart disease by more than 50 percent,” reports ASMBS.

It’s effective and safe
“Only bariatric surgery can provide substantial and maintained weight loss, which in turn results in improvement of obesity-related co-morbidities and quality of life,” reports The Journal of the American Medical Association.

While weight loss surgery isn’t a cure-all, it is an extremely effective tool to combat obesity and raise a patient’s overall health. From quality of life to life-threatening ailments, weight loss surgery is a safe method to help a patient get back on the road to health.

It helps to have a “navigator,” like Sharon Hillgartner at Texas Health Flower Mound. Find out more about Sharon here:
Not sure if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery? View our bariatric surgery guidelines here.

What You Need To Know About The Duodenal Switch Procedure

One of the newer weight loss surgery procedures is one you may not know about: the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, or simply, Duodenal Switch (DS). While approximately 2% of weight loss surgeries in America are currently DS, the procedure is growing in popularity and is also one of the most successful and effective at countering extreme obesity and other related ailments, like diabetes.

One of the bariatric surgeons performing the procedure is the renowned Dr. Folahan Ayoola, the Medical Director of Bariatrics at Texas Health Flower Mound. The DS surgery is “technically difficult,” says Dr. Ayoola, but has “the lowest failure rate.”

Here’s how it works:

First, a small stomach pouch is created by removing a portion of the stomach, reducing the stomach by approximately 80%. This is similar to a sleeve gastrectomy. Then, a large portion of the small intestine is bypassed, which causes the body to absorb fewer calories and fats (this relates to the “malabsorptive” element of this procedure).

One major advantage of the DS surgery is its effectiveness – it can result in weight loss of 60-70%, up to the five-year follow-up, if not more. Another benefit is it “causes favorable changes in gut hormones to reduce appetite and improve satiety.”

Bariatric Surgery Source describes it as “the best procedure for weight loss and health improvement,” noting the procedure can improve a variety of conditions such as diabetes and sleep apnea, and even potentially cure those ailments.

Another major benefit of DS that many potential WLS patients may not know is your post-WLS diet is more favorable to the patient than in other procedures. “The diet is actually rich in fat and protein,” says Dr. Ayoola. “Our patients eat lots of bacon. They put cheese on their scrambled eggs…It’s a relatively pleasant eating experience after this operation.” Here’s more information about post-DS nutrition.

Still, the Duodenal Switch procedure is not for everyone. Doctors suggest it is best for patients with particularly high BMIs at least of 45-50. Also, it requires an aggressive follow-up schedule with your doctor, so as to avoid “serious complications from protein and certain vitamin deficiencies,” according to Also, the procedure requires a longer hospital stay than other less-invasive WLS surgeries.

Think the Duodenal Switch procedure may be for you? Find out more about what Texas Health Flower Mound has to offer, and request an appointment.

The Truth About Dating After Weight Loss Surgery

Following weight loss surgery, it is common to experience a number of changes, both physical and otherwise. It is normal to start feeling different about many aspects of your life. Dating can be hard enough, without adding post-operation transitions to it.

To help make the dating process after weight loss surgery a bit easier, here are some things to keep in mind:

People may treat you differently

Whether it’s from people you know well or total strangers, you may find yourself getting treated differently than you had been pre-weight loss surgery. This may come in the form of attention. It is common among WLS individuals to find themselves questioning suitors and wondering if they would have received this same attention had they not undergone this operation. You may find yourself resenting people who just have an honest interest in you. You are so much more than your weight, and this surgery may just give you the opportunity to show that to the world. Own it, and trust yourself enough to distinguish the people who are attracted to you for the right reasons from those who are not. With attention usually comes compliments. Try not to look for hidden meaning behind words or question people’s motives. You deserve the compliments you get, so receive them openly. Another significant thing to keep in mind throughout the dating process is that some people may have trouble understanding the personal anxieties and concerns that came along with life before weight loss surgery. Be patient with these people, because chances are they do not know what it is like.

Dates will be different

Following weight loss surgery, you will have certain restrictions and requirements that may have you rethinking the types of dates you go on. Since your body will no longer be able to process the same foods or amounts that it did before, you’ll have to stay away from many-coursed dinner dates. If you do decide to go to dinner with your date, it may be helpful to plan your meal beforehand. To rid yourself of the worry of food options at a restaurant, check the menu online beforehand. Being aware of your food options will allow you to make the necessary adjustments before you go on the date. Another restriction to consider when planning a date is that, depending on where you are in your post-op, alcohol may not be an option. Therefore, going out for a drink may not be the best date option for you. Coffee dates may become your new go-to. For helpful advice about eating right along your weight loss surgery journey, click here. Another great date alternative may be physical activity dates like hiking, dancing or strolling through the park. These kinds of dates have the added benefit of getting in your daily activity as well.

Disclose when you are ready

When it comes to sharing any personal information, there is never one perfect moment. It is your journey and, your body, so pace yourself and when you are ready, share your weight loss surgery story. Some people may choose to wait until they know the person better before telling them about their WLS, while others prefer to disclose that information in the early stages of dating. Either way, it is a personal choice that you will have to make. The important thing to remember is if the person you are dating is not open-minded and accepting of the person you were and the efforts you have made to improve your quality of life, then that person is not the ideal match for you.

Be confident in yourself

The wonderful thing about WLS is that it may give you the confidence to put yourself out there and try new things. Get some dating experience under your belt, and do not be discouraged if it takes a couple of outings before you find someone who you really connect with. This is all part of dating. This is a transitional period in your weight loss surgery journey, and you need to find a partner who supports your effort to achieve a healthier life. This can mean finding another post-WLS individual or a partner who already values health. When you do find this special person, motivate and support each other in every step of your journey. Most importantly be confident in yourself and the work you have put into improving your life. Nancy Valazquez, a bariatric program social worker at St. Luke’s, explains: “Dating is about self; it’s about how you value yourself and what you believe you are entitled to. A person who does not think she is good enough to be loved, very often has a low sense of self-worth. This lack of self-worth comes from a lack of self-love. If you cannot accept yourself and your worthiness, how can someone else see that in you?…We learn to love by first loving ourselves.”

Like most things in life, dating is a process that takes some getting used to. The best way to gain experience is to just go out there and do it. Chances are you won’t meet the one for you right away, but every person and experience will teach you something. You have already taken a big step towards a healthier and happier life, and your journey is only going to continue. Finding someone to share the journey with is worth the intimidation and awkwardness that may come along with dating. Make the most out of every situation and be confident in yourself!

To find other weight loss surgery singles try

If you have questions about weight loss surgery visit us here.

Our navigator, Sharon Hillgartner, can also be a helpful resource. Find out more about Sharon here.

Making The Switch: Eating Right Along Your Weight Loss Surgery Journey

You’ve been lied to. Tricked and cheated by “food,” or what you thought was food. You’ve been told food was food when it wasn’t, or worse, been told to believe healthy, essential nutrients were bad for you.

To change that, let’s debunk a few food myths so you can make the switch to a whole-foods, high-functioning lifestyle to help you along your weight loss surgery journey. One little switch at a time can act as the stepping stones towards your goal weight and energy level.

Now, let’s talk about food. In particular, sugars, fats and complex carbs.

1. Sugar

It’s time to break up with sugar.

When you eat sugar, especially the processed sugar in store-bought candy, it enters your bloodstream very quickly. Think about it as the infamous sugar rush you get as a result. The hormone insulin is released to essentially soak it up. Your body then stores what it can’t use immediately as fat cells. Almost as quick as you felt the sugar rush, sugar leaves your body, leaving you feeling tired and longing for a nap, or worse: fake hungry. That’s right, consuming sugar can actually block the natural functions in your body that tell you when you’re full, which is why it is so easy to binge on sugar because you never actually feel full or feel hungry again shortly after consumption.

Now, here’s the tricky part; sugar is in almost everything. But, there is some friendlier, naturally occurring sugar out there like glucose and fructose that won’t have such a negative impact on you in your pursuit for a healthier life. Glucose is found in starches and carbohydrates and is an important source of energy in cell function and regulating metabolism. Fructose is fruit sugar. It can also be found in honey and syrups. When that inevitable sugar craving comes along, and neglecting your sweet tooth isn’t an option, reach for some fruit.

As we know, avoiding sugar entirely is almost impossible. And sometimes, we can be tricked by a food that is labeled “healthy” but can really be loaded with hidden sugars. That’s why we’ve done the work for you and listed a few simple swaps you can make right now:

Making The Switch
Salad dressings to oils and vinegars
Yogurt with fruit at the bottom to plain yogurt with natural fruit you’ve added yourself and a bit of honey
Flavored oatmeal to plain oatmeal with fruit and nuts you’ve added yourself
Sugary drinks and flavored waters to water you’ve infused with fruits, lemons or cucumbers you’ve added yourself

2. Fats

Fats, fats, fats, glorious fats! We’re talking about those essential fatty acids that keep you not only looking the part with strong hair and healthy skin, but feeling great as well by supporting organ function, especially your brain and liver. Many vitamins our bodies absorb from our food are fat soluble, meaning they can be dissolved and absorbed into our bodies only when paired with healthy fats.

In the 1980s, fat got a bad rap and has been struggling to recover ever since. Almost every “diet” you saw on the market was low-fat this or low-fat that, when in reality, they were just sugary wolves in a “healthy” sheep’s clothing. Essentially, the calories lost from fat in these items were just replaced by sugar. Trans fats are man-made fats created by injecting hydrogen molecules into vegetable oil to create a product that will never spoil. Margarine is an example of a trans fat that is often used in fast foods and processed foods like store bought cookies, chips and cakes. Think of trans fat as the monsters in your closet or the boogie man under your bed.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get back to the fats we love: unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts have diverse benefits for our bodies, including muscle protection, helping blood to clot, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that protect against heart disease and promote brain function. These essential fatty acids can be found in fish like salmon and tuna.

There are over 20 different kinds of saturated fats. Not all are bad, but it is important to be mindful of saturated fats and limit them when you can. Saturated fats can be found in things like a juicy burger or lamb chop, and dairy products like milk and cheese. You can still gain some nutrients from these foods, but just keep in mind they should be limited.

Making the Switch
A few more benefits of fats…

• Enhances flavors
• Keeps you fuller longer
• Keeps you energized throughout the day

Below are a few more healthy fats to add to your repertoire. Remember fats are great, and even better in moderation:

• Olive oil
• Grape seed oil
• Canola oil
• Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
• Avocados
• Salmon
• Tuna
• Natural nut and seed butters
• Dark chocolate (cocoa 70% or higher)
• Edamame
• Soy beans
• Eggs
• Chia seeds

3. Complex Carbs

Not all carbs are created equal. They can either present you with a lasting source of fuel your body can use as energy throughout the day, or leave your feeling tired, mentally clouded or even still hungry. To better understand the difference, let’s get into what a whole grain actually is.

A whole grain is a seed from a plant, the whole seed, with nothing added or subtracted. There are three main parts to a seed: the endosperm, the bran and the germ. Most of the nutrients are concentrated in the bran and the germ. The bran is rich in fiber while the germ carries things like iron and B vitamins. The endosperm contains the starches.

Refined grains, like the white flour a lot of the big food company types use in their pastas, cookies and breads to produce mass quantities of product inexpensively, are grains that have sadly been stripped of any and all nutrients. Whole grains and refined grains start their life in the same way, as whole seeds. However, in refined grains, the whole seed is processed in a way that removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm.

Let’s review: the bran and the germ contain a lot of the nutrients that are essential for many of our body’s major functions like nervous system activity or, proper digestion, and act as a fuel source for our muscles and red blood cells. These essential nutrients are given the boot to create these refined grains. That means that all that is left is the almost nutrient-less endosperm which is also usually bleached white to create what we know as white flour. Some nutrition is injected back into these grains to try and replace its original goodness. Yuck.

Complex carbs, or whole grains, can add a whole new dimension of delicious nutrition to your grocery list and your meals, and can help support a healthy, active and energetic lifestyle. Below are a few examples of foods containing complex carbs to pick up on your next trip to the grocery store:

Making the Switch
• Grapefruit
• Tomatoes
• Apples

• Spinach
• Sweet Potatoes
• Broccoli

• Quinoa (not as difficult to make as you might think, and there are even precooked options out there that can be popped in the microwave for 90 seconds and voila!)
• Brown rice
• Steel-cut oats

• Chickpeas
• Black beans
• Pinto beans

• Brown rice pasta
• Couscous
• Whole wheat pasta

It’s time to take back control of your journey towards your goal of a healthier lifestyle. It’s difficult to get it right every time, and that’s okay! It’s a process. You may burn a few new dishes you’re trying out, or maybe you just plain old don’t like the taste of something. Your weightloss journey is about constantly trying new things to see what works best for you and your body. The most important thing is that you are aware of these whole foods. Then you can begin to make these easy switches from “food” to food. Because food can work with you, not against you!

We will be launching a series of recipe guides including many of these delicious, whole foods in the coming weeks. So be on the lookout!

Have a specific recipe in mind that you would like to know how to make with whole food substitutes? Tell us in the comments, and we will include it in our recipe lineup!

Debunking WLS Myths: Why WLS is NOT the Easy Way Out

We’ve all heard the weight loss platitudes that people use off-handedly and constantly: “Calories in, calories out.” “Eat less, exercise more.” “Motivation is key!”
Those that don’t suffer from obesity don’t always understand how little value these phrases offer or how they further stigmatize weight loss surgery. This knowledge barrier around obesity and weight loss keeps many people from getting the care they need.

“One reason the AMA has labeled obesity as a disease is to ‘reduce the stigma of obesity that stems from the widespread perception that it is simply a result of eating too much or exercising too little,’” writes Matthew Metz, MD, for Obesity Help.

Weight loss surgery carries many similar, harmful stigmas that can only be helped by minimizing the current knowledge gap. In order to move past weight loss surgery misconceptions, we need to educate ourselves and others on its many benefits, and the journey it requires to get back on the road to health.

One misconception is the belief that weight loss surgery is the easy way out. Here’s why that’s entirely untrue:

It’s a journey
Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or something done carelessly. It takes a lot of work, preparation, and commitment. Before surgery, patients must prep their bodies and minds for the major transformation ahead. A lot of research, planning and adjusting is required to lay a solid foundation to fall back on post-op. After surgery, patients aren’t magically fixed. Each patient will have to undergo many lifestyle changes, including changing their relationship to food, adjusting eating habits and ramping up their exercise routine.

Surgery is a safe option
Not treating obesity in the long-term can be more dangerous than weight loss surgery. “Individuals suffering from morbid obesity are 85% more likely to die over any 5-year period than weight loss surgery patients… Weight loss surgery has a 99.9% survival rate,” according to Bariatric Surgery Source. Weight loss surgery can also help so many medical ailments, obesity related or not, like sleep apnea, heart disease or joint pain.

There is no guarantee
Even with all the right prep and a steady support system in place, doctors can’t guarantee that patients will keep the weight off for the rest of their lives. It is up to the patients to stick to their diet and exercise routines and stay within their new lifestyle changes. Some patients plateau or have setbacks, and it is up to them to stick to their goals and find the motivation. Ultimately, weight loss surgery is not a cure-all but, rather, a great tool used to get back on the road to overall health.

It also helps to have a “navigator,” like Sharon Hillgartner at Texas Health Flower Mound. Find out more about Sharon here.

Considering weight loss surgery? See if you’re a candidate here.

Helpful Tips for Controlling Cravings After Weight Loss Surgery

Sometimes we want what we can’t have. Everyone gets food cravings and it makes it hard to resist eating those delicious foods you know you shouldn’t. But often “good” food isn’t “good for you” food. Following your weight loss surgery, you may experience some of these cravings, so here are some helpful tips to resist them and keep you on track to a healthier life:

Avoid temptations. This means keeping those tempting food out of your reach. If you do not allow the foods you crave into your home, you are less likely to be tempted to eat them. You can also avoid temptations by steering clear of situations where you are likely to eat the foods you crave. This means avoiding the vending machine in your office, staying away from the food court at the mall and taking a different route home to avoid the bakery on the corner of your street. If your cravings are out of sight, they will be out of mind.

Drink some water. Sometimes that feeling you think is hunger or a craving may actually be your body telling you that it is thirsty. Dehydration can occur after weight loss surgery, so whenever you feel a craving coming on, try a glass of water. Post WLS, your body will need lots of liquids to recover. The recommended amount is 64 ounces, which is just 8 cups. This may seem like a lot, but if you plan it out over the course of your day, it is totally manageable. Don’t underestimate the importance of water after WLS. Dehydration is the leading cause of hospital readmission after bariatric surgery, according to Bariatric Eating.

Distract yourself. One of the best ways to resist cravings is to not think about them. The easiest way to do this is to distract yourself. If you keep your hands and your mind preoccupied, it will be easier to ignore your cravings. Reading a book, watching a movie, and doing some chores around the house are great ways to distract yourself from cravings.

Exercise. It can be as simple as taking a walk. This is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy as well as help fight those cravings. Exercise is also essential to your sustained weight loss after WLS. Just starting with 15-minute walks daily once healed from surgery and moving up to 30 minutes a day can help you stay on track to a healthier you.

Substitute the bad cravings for the good. If you get cravings for unhealthy food, try substituting it for a healthy alternative. Healthy protein or fruits and veggies may not be what you are craving, but they will satisfy your hunger and give your body healthy fuel to run on.

Don’t stress! After your weight loss surgery, you will experience not only physical changes but mental changes as well. The operation itself may be stressful, but recovery and life after WLS can cause a great deal of stress as well. This stress may not only affect your mental well-being, but can also increase cravings. Stress can cause our bodies to release a hormone called cortisol, which can make us feel hungrier than we actually are and increase cravings. Instead, substitute stress eating with some healthier habits for stress release. Exercising, meditation, and deep breathing are all things that may help relieve some stress and, in turn, some cravings. Having a plan on how to relieve stress will not only help your cravings but your overall well-being too!

Remind yourself of how far you have come. Weight loss surgery is a journey, and one of the best ways to fight cravings is reminding yourself of how far you have come and where you want to be. Setting goals will help you keep on the right path to your weight loss. Writing these goals down on sticky notes and placing them on places like your fridge and pantry, places you might go digging when the cravings come knocking, are a great idea.

Cravings are normal and sometimes hard to ignore, but the better equipped you are for managing them, the better the likelihood you will resist them. If you do find yourself giving into cravings, don’t beat yourself up! Use it as motivation to get back on track. We wish you a healthy and happy WLS journey!

If you have questions about weight loss surgery learn more and request an appointment here.