Food Police After Gastric Bypass: Why Do They Watch Us?


Are you supposed to be eating that?

Can you have that?

Is that allowed on your diet?

Boy – you sure did eat a lot – is that allowed?

Isn’t that going to make you sick?

I heard you can’t eat after WLS. Why are you eating?

Any of this sound familiar?

There is something about being public with weight loss surgery that makes others believe they have permission to become volunteer “Food Police” monitoring every move when it comes to our eating. One of our community members told me her skinny sister actually asked her, “I thought that surgery was supposed to make you stop eating and look at you with the food!” She was eating a small portion of poached chicken breast. Why the nerve! Poached chicken breast after WLS!

Another woman received a citation from the volunteer food patrol, she was eating a saltine cracker when she took her vitamins: “I thought it was against ‘The Rules’ to eat carbohydrates! You are really going to mess this thing up eating carbs.” Really now! You know I’m a rule pusher and preach “protein first” all the time. But you know, sometimes having a saltine with the vitamins is the only way to avoid stomach upset and it is not going to mess-up the surgery.

So why do outsiders feel it appropriate to become our food police?

The first thing psychologists will tell us is we give others permission to patrol our behavior. In many cases this is probably true. When I first had WLS my self-esteem was so low I had the confidence of a doormat. So my ability to defend my WLS and my eating behavior allowed others to monitor and comment. This did nothing to buoy my spirit or boost my confidence. In fact, having been a sneak eater, I continued through much of the weight loss phase to eat in private out of sight from the critiques. Today I will ignore or defend my WLS and my behavior, but six years ago, I was incapable of either ignoring or defending myself and I took every comment to heart. Rough way to go, don’t you think?

Another reason, I believe, that others feel it appropriate to police us is the fact that we chose the presumed “easy way out”. There is a certain envy, particularly from those who are obese and dieting conventionally, that compels people to judge. Sometimes it almost feels they are hopeful we will “fail” at this easy way out. By pointing out something they perceive to be a violation of the surgery they can inflict feelings of failure upon us, which does what? Makes us feel like failures. Have you experienced that? Our community member, eating the poached chicken breast said she felt “guilty” for eating! Mission accomplished by her sister, the self-appointed food police.

Finally, I do believe there are well meaning people patrolling us, offering feedback because they genuinely care about us and our success with WLS. Sometimes their patrolling may come across as criticism because we are sensitive, but also because they do not know how to offer it in a constructive manner. My husband, and you all know I adore the man to pieces and he is my biggest supporter, has sometimes watched me eat something and asked, “Are you sure you want to try that?” He is sincere and genuine with this feedback and I know this. But a little part of me resents it too and I want to scream back, “I know what I can eat and cannot eat!” But you know, he’s also been the one to get me through numerous dumping/vomiting episodes and his concern is to avoid that. He is giving feedback for a valid reason in the most sensitive manner possible and I appreciate him for that.

Kaye Bailey © 2005 – All Rights Reserved


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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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