What Exactly is Bariatric Medicine?
Bariatric medicine is a very broad field, but see why it is much more than surgical procedures.
As an industry leader in home diet delivery, BistroMD is proud to have the expertise of its founding physician, Caroline J. Cederquist, M.D., as one of a few physicians in the nation to be board certified in the specialty field of medical weight loss, also known as bariatrics.
Bariatrics refers to the branch of medicine that is concerned with treating overweight and obese patients through weight loss strategies and preventative lifestyle changes.
Bariatric medicine is not a surgical field, as most people might think. The term “bariatrics” actually comes from the Greek word meaning “large.”
Most people take this meaning literally and develop the misperception that these methods will help you lose a "large" amount of weight in a short period of time. It’s important to understand that while bariatrics literally means “large” it is also a field of study that emphasizes the science and the importance of healthy weight loss that encompasses a broad range of medical practices.
Why So Many Misperceptions?
“When I initially consult with my patients, many of them think that ‘bariatric’ automatically means surgery. This refers to procedures like stomach stapling, and gastric bypass surgery,” says Dr. Cederquist. “At my medical practice, we don’t use surgical methods to treat patients. Instead, we use a comprehensive program that includes implementing a healthy and nutritious diet, combined with healthy lifestyle techniques, such as exercise and behavioral therapy.”
Many people have many misperceptions about the field of bariatric medicine. As Dr. Cederquist mentioned above, the majority think that this practice automatically involves some type of surgical procedure.
Developed as a method to treat extreme cases of obesity, bariatric surgery is a medical process that involves re-routing the small intestines to a small stomach pouch. This method is used to reduce the functional volume of the stomach, causing the patient to feel fuller faster, and for a longer period of time. These biological changes are also accompanied with an altered physiological and psychological response to food.
“I consider gastric bypass surgery as a last resort,” says Dr. Cederquist. “The surgery is usually performed on those individuals who are morbidly obese, meaning that the extent of excess body fat is so critical that the person’s life is at risk.”
This procedure doesn’t come without complications. Many times, people who undergo gastric bypass surgery or any other major weight loss surgery experience some sort of complications in the weeks following. In fact, about 2% of people who undergo the procedure die from medical complications.
The “rapid” change in weight makes the procedure appealing to most people, but Dr. Cederquist recommends taking a more natural and healthy approach to losing weight.
“Our bodies need time to adjust to dramatic changes that come with weight loss,” says Dr. Cederquist. “Dramatic and rapid weight loss is unhealthy, which is why so many people experience complications after these surgical procedures. If you are overweight, or obese, you can treat your condition by making the necessary changes in your diet and in your activity levels. If you feed your body the right foods, and make a commitment to exercise daily, your metabolism will retrain itself to burn excess body fat. Your body just needs the necessary time to readjust itself to these metabolic changes.
How is a Healthy Lifestyle Approach More Effective Than Surgery?
When we feed our bodies the proper nutrition through food, this re-trains our metabolism to burn excess body fat.
“When a patient comes to my medical practice, I always plan out a structured meal plan for them. These meal plans implement the nutritional science that promotes healthy and effective weight loss by eating the right foods,” says Dr. Cederquist. “A diet that is properly balanced with protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats is crucial in order to readjust your body metabolically.”
Protein itself is vital when it comes to healthy weight loss.
“Your metabolism requires lean adequate protein in your diet if you are trying to lose weight,” says Dr. Cederquist. “When it comes to weight loss, the body cannot store extra protein. You cannot eat protein all at once, like most people do at dinner. Protein should be properly portioned throughout each of your meals during the day, in combination with other essential nutrients.”
Even to function at a minimal level, our bodies first use available carbohydrates, then protein, and last turn to your body’s fat stores for energy. The very process of burning body fat requires the presence of protein and carbohydrates. If these nutrients are not included in your diet, your body will break down lean body tissue for the protein, and convert it into carbohydrates for energy.
Incorporating a well-balanced diet with an effective exercise plan is also a healthier and safer way to lose weight without undergoing dangerous weight loss surgery.
“Exercise can do wonders for your health, and it can also help you mentally,” says Dr. Cederquist. “It’s important to understand, though, that being healthy doesn’t mean you have to become an exercise fanatic right away. With my total approach program at my medical practice, my staff and I slowly integrate physical activity into a weekly schedule that suits you best. Over time, we develop ways to slowly integrate more physical activity into your schedule, at a pace that corresponds to your progression through our program.”
On your journey to maintaining a healthy new lifestyle, the field of bariatics also incorporates the importance of behavioral counseling into your regimen, which is something you can’t get from surgery alone.
“Weight problems can take an emotional toll on those affected," says Dr. Cederquist. “As a board-certified bariatric physician, I have been trained to offer these types of services at my medical practice. Private counseling will actually help you avoid bad habits and destructive behaviors. You will learn how to think positively, manage stress, maintain motivation and build self-esteem.”
To cope with your weight loss problems, it’s important to realize that surgery won’t do it alone. Bariactric medicine is about more than just losing weight. Indeed, it is a large field that provides you with the tools and support you need to help you maintain a lifetime of health and happiness.
"I have taken the same principles from my medical practice, and incorporated them into the meal plans offered by BistroMD," says Dr. Cederquist. "With BistroMD, you can lose weight the safe and healthy way, and you have free support from a staff of expertly trained dietitians."
To learn more about BistroMD’s founding physician, Dr. Caroline Cederquist, please click here.
To see how healthy meals developed by Dr. Cederquist for BistroMD can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, please click here.