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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Chris Clarke tells us her story of how she lost over five stone with the help of surgery

For most of my adult life I’ve been on a diet, ranging from ‘real food’ plans by Weight Watchers, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley, to meal replacement plans such as Lighter Life and The Cambridge Diet.  I managed to lose about 4st on each, but as soon as I started eating normally the weight piled back on quicker than it had come off.  My downfall was sweet foods – I had to have a huge piece of cake every day, not just on special occasions. I used to think about food constantly, wondering when I could get my next cake fix.

It was a hard decision to opt for bariatric surgery, mainly due to the cost but also because, in my mind, it really is the last chance saloon option. Before the operation, I was a prime candidate for diabetes and was on medication for high blood pressure. I knew I had to take action to combat my food addiction and weight.

I had a gastric bypass in June 2016 and have lost nearly 5st so far. My blood pressure is now normal and I no longer need to take medication for reflux. I feel so well – I wish I’d had the operation 10 years ago!

surgery

Some people think a bariatric procedure is the easy option, but the operation is only a starting block. You need to make a lot of effort and change unhealthy habits to ensure you lose the excess weight.

My husband and son had bariatric surgery a few months before I did and they’ve also each lost 5st. Being in this together has helped us stick to our new healthy eating habits. As a family we’re now more discerning about the food we consume. Because we’re only able to eat small meals, we choose quality ingredients to make homemade dishes such as cottage pie and spaghetti bolognese. Our shopping bill has greatly reduced.

Eating out with friends has always been a major part of our socialising and we can still do it, using our strategy of eating most of the main course and sharing a dessert. In restaurants, I usually eat half the main course and take the rest home in a collapsible box (I take one everywhere with me) to have for lunch the next day. Food is now much more enjoyable as it doesn’t run our lives.

Would I recommend bariatric surgery?
Yes! There are so many benefits both for health and self-esteem. I really enjoy being able to buy nice clothes, rather than settling for what’s available in the bigger sizes. And I can still have the occasional piece of cake – just not every day and it has to be a much smaller slice.

Chris’ bariatric surgery was performed by Mr Hamouda at Weight Loss Surgery Kent (weightlosssurgerykent.co.uk).