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Break Up with Dieting: Why You Should Choose Bariatric Surgery for Long-Term Success

January 4, 2021

There are countless diets out there to try, such as keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, Weight Watchers, and South Beach. While these all can provide exciting short-term effects for some people, for others, they often end in frustration, weight re-gain, and questions on what to do next.

Why don’t diets work?

This is primarily because diets are an unsustainable, “all-or-nothing” method of eating healthy, rather than a permanent lifestyle change that focuses on overall health, explains Cheri Leahy, Lead Bariatric Dietitian at Jefferson Health – New Jersey.

Studies have shown that the average person can lose 5-10 percent of their body weight with an aggressive diet and exercise plan, but they’re likely to gain it back as soon as they stop. This leads to the dreaded “yo-yo” effect, with weight constantly going up and down, says Cristin Polizzi, Wellness Program Coordinator.

Additionally, everyone has a different response to certain diets depending on their genetic makeup, says Dr. Marc A. Neff, Medical Director of the Bariatric Surgery Program at Jefferson Health NJ. There are nearly 50 different genes that contribute to obesity, and they interact greatly with the environment.

“The genes that allow the keto diet to work well for one person won’t work the same for the next,” added Dr. Neff. “If more people were aware of this, they likely wouldn’t be so hard on themselves after a diet doesn’t work. They’re not alone.”

Medical conditions may also play a role in the effectiveness of dieting, as a number of medications can actually hamper your ability to lose weight.

How can bariatric surgery help?

With bariatric surgery – which doesn’t rely on genetics – 70 percent more people will keep their weight off long-term, says Dr. Neff. However, it doesn’t come with the blink of an eye.

Contrary to popular belief, choosing bariatric surgery isn’t the “easy way out.” For many patients, it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, and consistency.

Continued follow-up with physicians and dietitians, for several years following surgery, is one of the top behaviors associated with success.

Ditching the diet mentality is also a must. Instead, patients are encouraged to adopt permanent, individualized nutritional changes that work well for them, says Leahy. “You will have to learn to incorporate new foods into your diet; you will have to make space in the cabinet for vitamins; and you will have to carve time out of your already-busy schedule for exercise.”

The willingness and open-mindedness involved in this shift can be difficult but remember – you have to bend a little in order to succeed a lot.