Book Review: Living with Bariatric Surgery by Dr Denise Ratcliffe

This excellent book by Clinical Psychologist Dr Denise Ratcliffe will be immensely useful for anyone considering bariatric surgery, as well as people who’ve had surgery and those close to them. Half the book is about preparing for bariatric surgery and the other half about life afterwards. Denise Ratcliffe compassionately and authoritatively talks you through how to think about your eating habits and what’s driving them, and emphasises that for the surgery to lead to sustained weight loss, changing how you eat is essential. Rather than waiting for the surgery, you may find it helps to start experimenting with eating differently ahead of time, so you have begun to establish habits that will make the surgery all the more effective.

Denise Ratcliffe points out what you are likely to face during the surgical process, and after. She discusses the link between sticking to new post-surgery eating habits and greater weight loss, and shows how to use strategies from cognitive behavioural therapy to stick to the new habits.

As Dr Ratcliffe says, bariatric surgery is a psychological intervention as well as a weight loss intervention. The subtitle of the book “Managing your mind and your weight” reflects the range of psychological issues covered in the book, including the all-important task of adjusting to your new size, shape and life. This includes finding alternative ways of achieving the benefits that food has given you to date, whether that’s soothing, distracting or helping you avoid stuff.

Illustrated with quotes from patients and referencing research studies throughout, the book is easy to read and very much focused on helping the reader. She presents the “golden rules” for eating after bariatric surgery and explains why each of them matters. Throughout the book helps you to think ahead, with a combination of realistic and optimistic advice.

The book will be useful to anyone thinking about having bariatric surgery, and anyone who’s going through the process or has been through it. It will also be of interest to relatives and friends, to help think about ways of supporting the person’s progress. It’s a thorough reference manual for all aspects of considering surgery, planning for it and how to approach the months ahead – a much-needed resource!

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