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Keys to Success After Weight Loss Surgery: How Patients Can Avoid Unhealthy Addictions

Discussing the Two Most Common Potential Unhealthy Addictions for Bariatric Surgery Patients, Bluepoint Surgical Group's Addictions Counselor Jan Ford Offers Advice on How Patients Can Successfully Maintain Their Weight Loss

FAIRFAX, VA -- (Marketwired) -- 01/07/14 -- For an individual's weight loss surgery to be successful long-term, he or she must also commit to adopting a new lifestyle equipped with behavioral and eating changes. However, professionals at Bluepoint Surgical Group, a bariatric surgery practice in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area, say some patients may look to substitute food with a different behavior after surgery, which can lead to an unhealthy addiction. Certified Addictions Counselor Jan Ford says she specifically helps transition patients into a healthier lifestyle through education and a post-operative program to reduce the risk of developing unhealthy addictions.

In a recent blog post on the practice's website, titled "Ensuring Successful Weight Loss After Your Surgery," Ford observed: "Some individuals may find they experience some degree of grief and loss of enjoyment in food after bariatric surgery. This should be a temporary occurrence because once they start to realize their weight loss is progressing, usually these feelings subside. The benefits of feeling and looking better become the reward. If the feelings of loss persist, the individual may need to seek individual counseling to deal with those issues so they do not sabotage their weight loss efforts."

As a part of Bluepoint Surgical Group's comprehensive approach to assist patients in maintaining long-term weight loss, the bariatric center's staff includes exercise physiologists, clinical physiologists, and registered dieticians. Patients receive dietary teaching as well as nutritional counseling, and can attend medically supervised support group meetings before and after surgery.

According to Ford, individuals who previously used food to soothe feelings of anger, loneliness, exhaustion, boredom, or anxiety can sometimes transfer their food addiction to other behaviors. Two of the most common addictive behaviors she witnesses in patients are alcohol consumption and shopping. "Shopping is in itself not an issue unless the person begins to spend beyond their resources and realizes they continue to do so despite negative consequences," she says. "Alcohol, for some, becomes the 'soother' that they seek without the option of their comfort foods."

Ford especially cautions against the increased risks of alcohol consumption. "Based on recent research, regular alcohol consumption is not advised for gastric bypass patients," she says. "The way and rate that the alcohol is metabolized in the body after that particular type of surgery changes a person's tolerance for alcohol. A gastric bypass patient will find that initially one drink's effect equals four or five drinks, and then those effects pass rather quickly. This mistakenly leads someone to reach for another drink. Alcohol is processed quicker in the body after gastric bypass surgery, and may put some regular social drinkers at risk for alcoholism. In general, individuals need to develop better coping skills to relax or soothe themselves, rather than look to food or alcohol to serve that function."

In addition to coping skills, Ford recommends that patients achieve successful weight loss by:

  • developing healthy alternatives, such as new interests and hobbies
  • exercising regularly
  • sleeping at least 7 hours per night
  • eating three scheduled meals with two snacks a day, and avoid grazing on food
  • drinking enough water daily
  • learning the difference between "head" hunger and "belly hunger"
  • continuing to educate themselves with resources, such as Susan Albers' 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food
  • developing healthy relationships

"Bariatric surgery is only a tool for weight loss," says Ford. "It will help with portion control and in some cases hunger signals, but the key part of success depends on the life-long changes that the patient is willing to make. Remember, if nothing changes, the results remain the same. You have to be an active partner in your success with weight loss surgery."

About Jan Ford, MA, CSAC, CWC
As a Certified Wellness Coach, Jan Ford received her Masters in Counseling from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She is a VA Certified Addictions Counselor, and has 25 years of experience working in the mental health field. Specifically, she has expertise in addictive disorders, domestic violence, and bariatric behavioral counseling.
Ms. Ford is certified by Bariatric Support Centers International as a facilitator for Back on Track groups, and is a member of the American Counseling Association.

About Bluepoint Surgical Group
Bluepoint Surgical Group consists of a team of bariatric surgeons, as well as a multi-disciplinary team of weight loss professionals who help individuals combat the disease of morbid obesity. Recognized as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence® by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), the doctors of Bluepoint Surgical Group are known for their numerous distinctions in the medical field. Bluepoint surgeons specialize in a variety of weight loss procedures, such as gastric banding, gastric bypass, revisional bariatric surgery, and colorectal surgery. The center treats patients from Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, and many other areas. The surgeons at Bluepoint Surgical Group are available for interview upon request.

For more information about Bluepoint Surgical Group, visit or

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Bluepoint Surgical Group

3620 Joseph Siewick Dr.
Suite 200
Fairfax, VA 22033
(703) 620-3211

2280 Opitz Blvd.
Suite 320
Woodbridge, VA 22191
(703) 878-7610

125 Hospital Center Blvd.
Suite 207
Stafford, VA 22554
(540) 318-6135

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