Could You Be Suffering from Food Addiction?

Could You Be Suffering from Food Addiction?

When you hear the word addiction, it isn’t likely that you think of food. Instead, your mind probably flashes images of drugs and drug addicts or alcohol and alcoholics from your own memories. If you have friends and relatives who smoke cigarettes, you might also think of a tobacco addiction. So, how can food become an addiction when, unlike the others, our body actually needs this sustenance to survive?

What is a Food Addiction?

The term ‘food addiction’ refers to a scientifically proven disease. When a person experiences partial or complete loss of control over the ability to stop eating certain foods, either on their own or as requested by a physician, there is a dependency. This dependency is caused by the presence of a cluster of chemical dependencies on specific foods.

Food Addiction Causes

food addiction obesityWhen people consume highly palatable foods, most specifically those high in sugar, excess fat, and salt, their brains can develop a physical craving for these foods. If not careful, progressively consuming these types of food can distort their cognitive abilities which can then lead to unfavorable consequences they can no longer control due to the food addiction.

Looking Deeper at Food Dependency

Like any other form of dependency, food addiction can stem from an individual’s social, biological or psychological issues. Common social factors among food addicts include family problems, peer pressure, social awkwardness or isolation, abuse, lack of support, decreased performance or failure at work or school, avoidance of social gatherings and family functions, and traumatic life events.

Biological issues that commonly influence food addiction include the following: hormone imbalances, brain abnormalities, relatives with food addictions and/or disorders, and side effects from brain-altering medications. Those who suffer with frequent suicide ideation or panic attacks may also seek temporary comfort in a food addiction.

Looking deeper, food addictions are often the result of psychological issues such as emotional or sexual abuse, inability to cope with stressful or traumatic life events, chronic self-loathing or low self-esteem, emotional detachment or numbness, or an inability to recover from grief or loss. More often than not, these individuals will turn to food as a coping mechanism in an effort to relieve their pain and buried emotions resulting from these issues.

Co-Morbid Disorders

Many times, someone who struggles with a food addiction will also have other co-morbid disorders, such as substance abuse and eating disorders. Food addicts may also suffer from co-morbid health conditions due to their eating habits. Here are some of the most common physical issues faced by those with food addictions:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity and/or Digestive Problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Kidney or Liver Disease
  • Insomnia and/or other Sleep Disorders
  • Lethargy
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic Pain, Fatigue and Headaches
  • Decreased Sex Drive

While not one of the more common dependencies thought of today, food addiction points to a complex mental health issue that should be treated immediately to avoid serious complications. With guidance, support and treatment, it is possible to escape the vicious cycle of dependency and fully recover from a food addiction.

Weight Loss Surgery IS for Losers!

So you have made the decision for weight loss surgery and have undergone the procedure, as well as the pre-op and post-op diets. By this time in your weight loss study, you have grown accustomed to your new eating habits and, miraculously, you no longer struggle with weight issues, right?

Wrong… you will continue to struggle with the right food and exercise choices from this day forward. The weight loss will happen, slowly but surely. However, you will not see the results of your weight loss surgery without constant goal setting and hard work. That means avoiding some of your old habits such as ‘drinking your calories’. With a watchful eye on the food you consume, you will be a loser!

weight loss surgery success

Working Hard after Weight Loss Surgery

While it would be nice if it worked that way, Bariatric surgery does not do all of the work needed to actually shed those unwanted pounds. What you can expect the weight loss surgery to do is help your stomach feel full much faster than it did before the procedure. As you also begin eating healthier and exercising more, this combination further affects your health and weight in a positive way.

Others may remark on your weight loss and commend you on how quickly the pounds are flying off since they do not see you every day. They might even make comments that you appear to be ‘melting’ (which also suggests you are putting forth no effort. GRR) These people do not know the level of discipline and work effort required to lose a significant amount of weight after weight loss surgery.

You should begin a weight loss journal as soon as possible and do not shy from the camera. Remember, in a way, you will be writing your very own success story. These pictures and dates will record the changes taking place within your life, and will help you realize how much you’ve changed since Bariatric surgery …and what a big loser you are! (C’mon, you know that’s funny!)

weight loss surgery success

The Future’s so Bright …Wait, I Still Have to Exercise?

For some reason, common sense has gone out the window along with anything and everything people have ever learned about diet, exercise and the human body. No matter what, the body needs exercise. After weight loss surgery, numerous foods are no longer allowed to be part of your diet.

Enjoyment is gone for such things as pizza, hamburgers and even cake… as you can no longer eat bread, pasta, rice and sugary sweets – ever again. Regardless of the medical procedures you choose to help control the weight, a sensible diet and frequent exercise are both requires before you can achieve the results your body needs to be happy.

Debunking the Weight Loss Surgery Cop-Out

If you haven’t ready part one, ‘Bariatric Surgery: No Easy Way Out’ and part two, ‘Bariatric Surgery, the Hard Choice’, you certainly want to take the time to read these great articles addressing the opinion that weight loss surgery is for undisciplined and lazy people looking for an easy way.

Part Three: Once Bariatric Surgery is in the Rear View

In order to properly debunk society’s opinion that weight loss surgery is merely an ‘easy way out’ without effort or discipline, it seems only right to discuss those first days following the Bariatric procedure. That is because, regardless of the weight loss procedure you have undergone, there will be pain. Pain… a feeling that is never pleasant and surgery, a word that is synonymous with the word pain.

While the pain is quite manageable and medication is often part of the healing process, this is a surgical procedure that requires three small incisions for the laparoscopic tool. Depending upon the Bariatric procedure chosen by your Bariatric team, other incisions and alterations will also made inside the body. Needless to say, while recovering from weight loss surgery, you will not consider this procedure to be the easier way to lose weight.

Don’t let a little post-surgery pain scare you off, though.

post bariatric surgery

Post Bariatric Surgery: Dieting Days Far from Over

By this time, the average Bariatric patient has lost about twenty pounds already from the difficult pre-op liquid protein shake diet and weight loss surgery. Before leaving the hospital, the first two weeks after surgery, patients are now instructed to follow a Clear Liquid Diet, this one even more difficult than the pre-op diet. Bouillon soup, Jello, popsicles, and eventually G2, the sugar free form of Gatorade, are your sustenance for about one week.

By the end of the second week, protein shakes are once again part of the post-op Bariatric diet. This is the second stage of dieting after weight loss surgery, called the Full Liquid Diet. For most Bariatric patients, doctors give a green light for the Pureed Diet in weeks three and four. The pureed diet is not pleasant but is very necessary as the stomach heals and the patient learns new limits.

In months two and three after weight loss surgery, most Bariatric surgeons will graduate patients from pureed options to the next step in dieting, the Soft Food Diet. Finally, the patient is allowed to consume real food again, even though it must be soft and easy to swallow. Lastly is the Stabilization Diet, or the diet that models a lifestyle change, beginning about four months after Bariatric surgery.

Post-Op Dieting Guidelines vary according to Bariatric Procedures

Just as every person faces different health issues caused by obesity, your Bariatric doctor may have special instructions for the days that follow weight loss surgery. Regardless of the weight plan he has set in motion, you can expect to work hard and sacrifice much while restoring your health and fighting against the effects of obesity.

Those who say that Bariatric surgery is an ‘easy way out’ and consider obese patients to be quitters should try to follow the above mentioned diets and see how easy weight loss surgery truly is. The next and final article in this series is a supporting piece for those individuals who know that, ‘Weight Loss is for Losers’.


Bariatric Surgery, the Hard Choice

While we live in the 21st century, a time when medical research has established the discovery that obesity is a disease, people are still looking down their noses at those who struggle with weight loss and weight control. While many still think this type of ridicule is socially acceptable, the fact remains that more than thirty percent of adult Americans are considered obese or overweight.

The AMA ruled obesity as a disease, so when will society stop discriminating?

As with any disease that society views unfavorably, the first issue with Bariatric surgery is getting the obese to admit to themselves as well as to family that there is indeed a problem. Admitting they cannot manage the obesity alone is not easy; admitting they need medical help is even worse, especially when some consider weight loss surgery an ‘easy way out’ and view the obese as merely quitters who are ‘copping out’.

surgery for obesity

Taking Steps to a Healthier Life with Weight Loss Surgery

While every Bariatric weight loss journey is different and doctors often choose different avenues to prepare for surgery, this scenario is most common. Once the patients have admitted there is a problem and sought help from a medical doctor, it is time to swallow pride and see the mental health professional, to which these patients have been referred.

If there are no untreated mental illnesses found, and the obese person seems to have reasonably good coping skills, the next step is to visit with a nutritionist or dietitian. Depending on the dietitian’s assessment, those hopeful for weight loss surgery may need their eating, drinking and physical activity observed for up to six months. This varies by case, often depending upon factors such as eating habits and/or insurance.

You will also be referred to a cardiologist for a complete check-up of your heart. The cardio doctor will conduct a study of your arteries, veins, valves and the heart muscle itself.

Keep Reading… What’s Next May Surprise You

With all of these steps successfully taken, the obese patient is (hopefully) now approved for Bariatric surgery for weight loss and better health. If approved, the surgery is then scheduled, and the patient will be placed on a very strict pre-op diet to follow before the big day. In the last week or two before surgery, the patient is put on a diet of only high protein shakes three times per day. Typically, doctors recommend only those shakes with more than 30 grams of protein and, preferably, less than 12 grams of sugar. No other food will be consumed during this time.

Author’s Note about the Importance of the Pre-Op Diet

This diet is HARD. Say goodbye to your favorite beverages, save for a cup of black coffee in the morning and all the water you can drink. Follow this pre-op diet closely and you will see weight loss, although weight loss is not the purpose. I lost 17 pounds in one week on my pre-op and I have always been one of those people that say, “but I really don’t eat that much.”

After my weight loss procedure, the doctor visited my bedside to share pictures taken laparoscopically of my liver and stomach with the Lap Band in place. At first, I was a bit worried that I had somehow failed in my pre-op diet, and the doctor could tell. (I may or may not have cheated on the one-cup-of-coffee rule. I’ll just plead the fifth on that one.)

To my relief, the doctor began bragging on how well I had done on the pre-op and remarked on how baby pink my liver was. My own doctor failed to tell me the purpose of the pre-op diet was not weight loss, but the Bariatric surgeon explained it well… hours after surgery.

The purpose of the pre-op diet is to give the surgeon room to work, using the non-invasive laparoscopy procedure. While consuming only protein shakes and avoiding typical food and drink choices, the liver begins to shrink and cleanse itself and the stomach begins to reduce in terms of swelling and stretching. (The consumption of soft drinks can lead to a swollen stomach, by the way.)

Bariatric Patients Make Hard Sacrifices to See Weight Loss Results

One of the hardest aspects of preparing for weight loss surgery is the pre-op diet, but the results are well worth the effort. While general anesthesia is still a requirement, the laparoscopy procedure allows for fewer sacrifices, such as a reduced amount of time taken off from work and a significantly quicker recovery time.

Regardless of the weight loss procedure your doctor decides is best for your health issues, Bariatric surgery is the hard choice. Find out more on this topic when you read the third post in this series, ‘Debunking the Weight Loss Surgery Cop-Out’.

Bariatric Surgery: No Easy Way Out

Some people, those who on the outside looking in, believe that Bariatric surgery is an ‘easy way out’, giving the obese an opportunity to see results without effort. Still others view weight loss surgery as a quick fix for those who lack willpower or are just plain lazy, but this could not be further from the truth.

For example, a basketball player makes his game look easy, but no one knows the countless hours spent practicing and studying game plays. Like the basketball star, obese patients cannot help but make Bariatric surgery look easy because the results are quick and the weight loss seems to happen with little effort but…

Decision for Weight Loss Surgery is NOT Easy

In fact, if you are looking for easy weight loss options, you have been highly misinformed about Bariatric surgery. Those who are obese do not choose weight loss surgery because they lack any self-control and discipline. This huge decision is not an option simply because Bariatric surgery candidates abhor the thought of exercise.

Bariatric Surgery Prevents Obesity Related Health Issues, Saves Lives

You might be surprised to learn that people who choose weight loss surgery have exhausted every other measure. They have at least two or more health concerns that have placed them at a high risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other obesity related comorbidities. In nearly every case, the decision for Bariatric surgery has been decided (as a last resort) in an effort to prevent more serious health concerns and/or to save the patient’s life.

weight loss surgery easy

Obesity is a Disease …and It KILLS

Welcome to the year 2016, where people know that obesity is a disease that kills and the American Medical Association knows it. Knowing what we do, why would Bariatric surgery be considered anything less than a necessary plan of action, a method to quickly save someone’s life or avoid additional health concerns? Those who say weight loss surgery is an ‘easy way out’ for the obese have little or no understanding of how this disease works.

Fad Diets and Weight Fluctuation Leads to an Unhealthy Lifestyle

Obese Bariatric surgery patients have tried diets after diets, losing hundreds of pounds and gaining hundreds of pounds back. Their aggressive dieting and constant use of weight loss products, gimmicks, tricks, and diet pills are all more unhealthy and hard on the body than actual Bariatric surgery. Therefore, the decision for weight loss surgery does not come from avoidance of discipline and lack of dieting.

The reasons for obesity abound and are too numerous to list for you here, many of which are documented as genetic in nature. Other causes include socio-economic factors such as a history of abuse where patients sub-consciously shrouded themselves to avoid unwanted physical attention caused by their weight. Obesity also has psychological and metabolic factors at play.

Among the metabolic issues are diabetes, hypothyroid problems, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, and insensitivity to leptin. Does weight loss surgery still sound like a cop-out? Find out more about Bariatric surgery and your options for an ‘easy way out’ by reading the second post in this series, ‘Bariatric Surgery, the Hard Choice’.

When Health Insurance Claim Gets Denied for Bariatric Surgery: Six Steps to File a Successful Appeal

In case your health insurance claim got denied for Bariatric Surgery, you may want to appeal against the decision. But how do you do that?

These six steps will hopefully help you:

bariatric denial appeal

  1. Get a written denial letter from your insurer

First, obtain a denial letter that contains all the basic information. Apart from mentioning the name, the credentials, and the title of the person who denied your claim, a denial letter needs to include the clinical rationale and the medical criteria supporting the denial. A denial letter must also contain instructions to appeal to the decision. In addition to that, contact information, instructions for correctly filing external review and for obtaining further assistance need to be given.

In case the denial latter given to you lacks any of the above mentioned elements, contact your insurer and get the additional information.


  1. Understand the guidelines

Before going ahead with your appeal, you must take the time to understand the appeal guidelines of your provider. Different insurance companies have different guidelines, and to maximize your chance at winning, following guidelines is important.


  1. Get support from those who are willing to help

Most reputed medical centers have insurance coordinators who know a lot about the appeal process. Contact your Bariatric medical center to find out if someone can help you. In case a bariatric coordinator cannot find success, you may even request your bariatric surgeon to call someone in the insurance company who has high authority. In addition to that, your company’s HR center may be of great help, too!


  1. Prepare an effective appeal letter

Never write a weak unprofessional letter. Put effort to prepare an appeal letter that looks highly professional and standard.


  1. Keep track of your correspondences

In addition to noting the times and the dates of each of the correspondences, you should note the medium of correspondences, too. That is, whether a discussion took place over phone, email, fax or something else. You must also keep track of all the titles and names of the different representatives you speak with. Other than that, save a summary of whatever is talked about during any correspondence. Further, make sure that you send your letters using certified mail carriers only. That way, you can have proof regarding when you sent those letters.


  1. Make sure that you follow up

All your efforts will be wasted if you fail to persist. Make sure that you do not stop your journey until you get a final official response from your insurance provider.


If your insurance provider does not budge even after you follow the above steps, you may want to go a step further and involve lawyers and other influential third parties.

Six Elements All Successful Health Insurance Appeal Letters Have in Common

In case your health insurance claim just got denied, you are probably wondering what step to take next.

One thing you can do is make an appeal. But for that, you need to know the procedure first. So how do you make an appeal exactly?

6 elements bariatric insurance appeal letter

First of all, even before you touch your pen or keyboard, it is important to contact your doctor’s office and ask for all the important information that you may need to include in your letter. You can also get helpful suggestions from knowledgeable staff there. In addition to that, the office may have a great letter template to help you complete the appeal process easily and quickly.

Secondly, you need to obtain some basic information from your insurer in a standard denial letter.

Once both of the above steps are completed, it is time to write the actual letter.

In order to be effective, your Bariatric Surgery appeal letter should contain the following six elements at the very least:


  1. Basic policy information

It goes without saying that your letter must contain your name in full at the beginning. The letter must also contain policy information and treatment information. You can find such information easily if you examine your insurance company’s Explanation of Benefits document. Writing your policy number, treatment dates, description of treatments, and total doctor fees should be enough.


  1. The reason for denial

Why was your claim denied in the first place? State that reason in your letter. Make it easy for your insurance provider to track your case. Do not assume that your insurance company will just know the reason.


  1. Your intention

Make it clear that the reason for writing your letter is that you intend to make an appeal.


  1. Important document copies

Send all the records that your insurer used at the time of denying your claim. Also, include records that may be required to approve your claim if the company chooses to do so. In addition to that, do not forget to enclose copies of medical opinions provided by your insurer regarding the denial.


  1. Claim re-review request

Request your insurer to review your claim once again in accordance with any newly provided data. This one applies only if you provide additional documents or information responding to the denial.


  1. Your contact information

Never end a letter abruptly without giving your contact details. Where would you like to be contacted for further correspondence by your insurance company? Write down that address correctly at the end of the letter.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.12.24 AM


If all else fails, you can still get medical financing. Read more about bariatric financing here.

How to Finance Your Bariatric Surgery without Insurance

Bariatric surgery is an expensive procedure. So in case you do not have a medical medical financing gastric bypass gastric sleeve lap bandinsurance, or your insurer refuses to cover your surgery costs, you may feel discouraged. You may even think about retreating or postponing your surgery.

However, there is no reason to panic. Because, even without the support of your insurance provider, it is totally possible to get your surgery done without breaking your financial backbone!

Chat with our Bariatric Coordinator Online to find financing options!

Why take the leap?

We will talk about where to find financial help in a moment, but first let us see why undergoing bariatric surgery is a good idea even when money is tight:

Bariatric surgery assures cheaper future

Nearly all patients who undergo bariatric surgery report decline in their expenses after about 13 months of surgery. In fact, data suggests that obese people spend nearly 900 dollars more every month compared to those who had the surgery done.

Bariatric surgery lengthens life

Since a huge number of health problems disappear after bariatric surgery is done, quality of life improves by a large margin. And hence, a longer life is almost guaranteed!

Bariatric surgery improves professional life

Obese people are often discriminated against by peers and colleagues at work. It may sound harsh, but many obese people get lesser salaries than they deserve just because they are obese. So once bariatric surgery is out of the way, others are likely to treat a person in a nicer and more respectful way.


What kinds of financial help exist for bariatric surgery?

Now that you know why bariatric surgery is worth embracing, let us consider the ways in which you can finance the procedure:

Secured medical loans

Obtaining a secured loan from any reputed credit union or bank is a good idea in case you own a house that has about 10 to 20 percent of built up equity. However, keep in mind that this option requires collateral on your part. Also, since the process of obtaining a secured loan is a bit complex, most people prefer to obtain unsecured loan as long as the loan amount does not exceed $15,000.

Unsecured medical loans

If you have no intention of providing collateral, then getting an unsecured loan is your best bet. The problem in this case is that since there is no collateral involved, the interest rate is going to be higher than that of secured loans. Other than that, having a good credit score is crucial if your aim is to successfully receive an unsecured loan. For more details, you can contact brokers, lenders and credit card companies who provide unsecured loans in your area.

Understanding Bariatric Surgery Coverage under the Affordable Care Act

In those states of the US where bariatric procedure is regarded as an Essential Health Benefit, Obamacare makes it mandatory for insurance providers to ensure that bariatric surgery coverage is given under all small-group, family and individual plans under the Affordable Care Act.

In this article, we list the states that are covered, illustrate the limitations of the act, and tell you what to do if your state is not included.

obama care bariatric surgery

States covered for bariatric surgery under Obamacare

Excluding a select few, nearly all states make it mandatory for all small-group, individual and family plans to provide bariatric benefits. Residents from Arizona, Delaware, California, Hawaii and Illinois can obtain bariatric surgery benefits. Those who live in Maine, Iowa, Michigan, Maryland or Massachusetts are also eligible. In addition to that, people from Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New Mexico can benefit from the act, too.

Other states that make bariatric surgery insurance benefits mandatory are North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Vermont, South Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming.


If your state is excluded

In the event that the above paragraph did not mention your state, it is likely that your insurer is not obligated to give you any bariatric surgery benefit. Even when you get your surgery done in some other state, you will still not be able to claim any benefits. The good news is that many organizations and authorities are working hard to change certain policies of the Affordable Care Act in order to make bariatric surgery mandatory within more states.


Is there any other catch?

Since the act treats bariatric surgery as an Essential Health Benefit, the initiative is of no use in case of larger groups. That is, if a group has more than 50 employees, then Essential Benefits are not going to apply. That means if you work in a company having over 50 employees, you will not be eligible for receiving bariatric insurance coverage.


What if you are unsure?

In case you are unsure whether your insurance provider gives you bariatric surgery benefits or not, you may want to contact a local bariatric surgeon. Without charging you anything, the surgeon’s office will get in touch with your insurer and obtain information on your behalf. After that, it is great if you find that the procedure is covered by your insurance provider! But at the same time, there is no reason to lose heart even if your insurance company informs that it does not cover the procedure. That is because you can still get secured and unsecured loans from various sources to cover the costs.

Diet Control and Exercise Do Not Eliminate Obesity: Experts Find After Study

In the light of recent studies, it appears that obesity is not really curable by eating less. The researchers behind The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology argue that, for the most part, obesity proves itself as a disease that is chronic, having biological reasons which cannot be eliminated by exercise or diet.

Almost 80 to 95 percent of obese people who experience short-term good results after controlling diet end up being obese again when few months pass. One reason for that may be our body’s tendency to prompt us to consume foods rich in calories when we suddenly decrease our caloric intake.

The problem is, in case of obese people, the mentioned biological tendency actually encourages fat storage in order to protect a person’s maximum sustained weight. As a result, overriding this kind of defense does not seem to be possible for the majority of patients, if only lifestyle alterations are embraced.

Reason for Obesity

Dr. Christopher Ochner, the lead author, expresses that obesity can often turn into something that is biologically defended, and hence, advising an obese person to eat less is somewhat like suggesting a bleeding person to avoid sharp risky objects. Note that Dr. Christopher is Pediatrics and Psychiatry Assistant Professor who works in the Icahn School of Medicine, New York.

The professor further states that most obese people are truly and significantly different biologically from their counterparts who have normal weight. In many cases, he argues, their biological changes may last indefinitely, which makes it nearly impossible for them to sustain long-term weight loss.

According to the authors, in order to sustain weight loss permanently, interfering with biological factors is necessary. The present biological interventions are not very capable, since those are limited to ways like surgeries, drugs, nerve blockage etc. that do not exactly provide permanent correction.

To date, only Roux-en-Y gastric bypass could show reversal of obesity-induced alternations upon hormones associated with appetite, and on how our brain responds to food. The authors argue that this may be one reason why the method of bariatric surgery seems to be the only viable treatment for eliminating obesity completely.

Dr. Christopher concludes that a huge number of clinicians do not really understand the reasons why obese people find it difficult to lose weight. According to him, obesity needs to be recognized for what it is – a chronic, and sometimes treatment-resistant, condition. He notes that without biological interventions, obesity may not be possible to eliminate by lifestyle modifications alone; and relying only on modifying behavior will only result in yearly deaths of millions of sufferers.

What do you think?  Share your opinion on this study.