Are you digging your grave with your teeth?

Working alongside Dr Cabot often allows me the privilege of exposure to educational seminars that are far beyond the normal exposure of practice as a Nutritionist. I was recently lucky enough to be invited to attend a three-part series of educational evenings relating to Obesity – entitled “Obesity: A multidisciplinary approach to patient management” The two main presenters are specialists in their field, Orthopaedic Surgeon Professor John Ireland and Bariatric Surgeon – Dr Ali Zarrouk.  Both spoke in great detail about the effects of obesity on joints- giving alarming statistics relating to the rise of weight related surgeries- namely hip and knee replacements due to worn out joints (osteoarthritis).  They also spoke about radical surgeries called gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy to reduce food intake. You may think that hip and knee replacements are for “old” people – however people as young as 40 years of age are being admitted to have joint replacements because their joints are worn out.   I don’t know about you- but I know plenty of men and women still doing triathlons in their 70’s!  In fact, my partners 80-year-old Dad is coming to Sydney to do the City to Surf this year.Given the increasing obesity rates within our society, surgeries such as gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy are becoming more and more common amongst a younger demographic – and it seems the only reason people require these surgeries is because for whatever reason, they are not able to stop putting food in their mouth!

Are you digging your grave with your teeth?

Quick fat facts!

  • The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has officially recognized obesity as a disease
  • Research shows that severely obese people die 8-10 years earlier than those of normal weight- a value similar to that for smokers
  • Obesity rates have doubled or even tripled in many countries since 1980
  • Between 1995 and 2012 the average weight increased by 3.9kg for men and 4.1kg for women – yes we are getting bigger!
  • Australians are now fatter than Americans- wo!

Given that I was at a seminar which was essentially organized by Doctors, for Doctors – I was always going to be getting a different perspective on treatment protocols- drugs for this, drugs for that, however that different perspective is essentially why I was there.   I was momentarily blown away at the lack of recognition paid to the fundamental causes of obesity, and then quickly reminded myself, this difference in perspectives between Nutritional Medicine and main stream allopathic medicine was exactly why I love working as a nutritionist.   Nutritional and Naturopathic medicine find and treat the cause of the symptoms, whereas allopathic medicine will use drugs to treat and often just mask the symptoms of pain or disease, which does not get to the root of the cause, often leaving people reliant on drugs and surgery.   Weight gain is generally emotional and or habitual eating, and all that goes with emotional and habitual eating such as self-worth, self-respect, depression, stress, detachment, attachment, boredom- the list continues.  But I must say, not matter what the reason, ultimately, in most cases it is stemming back to an inability to deal with thoughts, feelings and emotions, we are not taught how to deal with our own minds and the self-talk (our thoughts) that can so often not match our feelings.   Childhood trauma that has not been addressed and moved through is where is see people getting stuck. And then of course weight gain comes down to a lack of education, and or listening to the television and the food industries advertisements- namely the grain industry on the television for nutritional education. 
What is gastric banding- apart from invasive and risky, with a less than stellar success rate?

A great deal of the evening was spent explaining the procedure of Gastric Banding.  Gastric Banding is a procedure where the obese patient is put under anaesthetic, and then through keyhole surgery, a plastic band is inserted into the abdominal cavity and tightened around the upper portion of the stomach – just below the oesophagus. It creates a small upper abdominal pouch that doesn’t allow as much food in through the oesophagus as it normally would.  The band looks just like a wrist band you would wear into a music festival.   Another incision is made on the upper abdomen so that once the band is in place; doctors can go in and tighten the band externally post op down the track if need be.   The band does not alter the digestive function.  The food consumed still passes through your oesophagus, drops down into your stomach, through your digestive tract in the normal route. 

The band is literally a foreign object sitting around your upper stomach inhibiting you from being able to eat as much food as your use to- you can still pour chocolate or whatever you like down your throat. You will be liquefying blocks of chocolate in no time!

As I was saying earlier, the reason most people over eat is emotional imbalance. Negative emotions may stem back from unaddressed childhood issues, or current states of loneliness, unhappiness, grieving, boredom – emotions come in endless varieties. Self-sabotage can arise from negative thought processes.  One of the most useful life techniques we can learn is to not think, feel.  It is often negative self-talk and thoughts that sabotage us, so getting some help with your learned self-talk is often the key, often it is just some minor changes, learning to recognise old negative patterns that are not you, that just don’t serve you any more is the key.

Gastric banding is not a successful long term procedure for a lot of people.  Regardless of the often awful side effects and no guarantee to keep the weight off- people are still choosing to go under the knife and have a permanent “quick fix”.  One of the common side effects of gastric banding is indefinite regurgitation after eating food – not the best dinner party trick.

Food is proving to be a strong addiction for a lot of people, but we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves; not only are we dealing with our emotions, the food industry is doing a great job of keeping us addicted to outrageous amounts of sugars.  A sugar addiction is harder to break than a cocaine addiction-proven fact.

The level of sugar in our food is sending numbers of newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetics through the roof.  Within Australia, Diabetes Mellitus has more than doubled amongst adults since 1981, and if you think diabetes is a disease of the poor or the uneducated you are wrong-In the year 2000 there were 334 people in the Waverley Council electorate with Diabetes- this rose to 1460 people by 2007.   The Waverley electorate of the city of Sydney is not an improvised electorate by any means.

If you are thinking about having any sort of surgery to reduce weight, considering seeing a Nutritionist first.  Doctors do not have the training in human nutrition that a nutritionist does.  The eating protocol a doctor, or even a dietician give you will be without doubt be very different to the protocol of whole foods a nutritionist will give you.   may give you may leave you feeling as though your only hope is surgery- but this could be far from the truth. 

A quick note on food addiction:

Neurotransmitters are strong instigators of emotions- when you have scientists in a lab trying to actually stimulate those receptors-think Monsanto and chemical 951 (Aspartame), then food addictions can be very real addictions, but you can learn to control and eventually cure your food addiction.   You just need to educate yourself a little about different foods and how they work on / in your body and.

Once you have some knowledge on whole foods and the food industry – you will have the power and strength to control your emotions and habits.  Knowing what to eat and when to eat, gaining knowledge about vitamins, minerals and whole foods that assist you through initial periods of difficulty or fluctuating blood sugars and the awful moods that can accompany initial changes in your diet.  A supportive and passionate Nutritionist can help you.

People fail to succeed because they lose their focus. They start out well and then a distraction comes along – usually a type of stress that takes you off track. A good nutritionist will look at emotional and metabolic reasons for weight gain.  Hormones- especially those hunger hormones have a lot to answer for also.

 – Never Give Up.