A woman who was considering bariatric surgery has managed to reduce her body weight by half through conscious eating with the support of a specialist community dietitian from Brent.
Judith Simmons embarked on her dietetics group programme two years ago to lose weight due to a spinal condition. The 73 year old grandmother from Ruislip said, “I’m less than five foot two tall and at that time I weighed 105 kilograms (16.5 stones).
“Originally I thought that I would have to have bariatric surgery, as I had not been successful over many years at losing weight through dieting. However, the operation I would have needed sounded so horrible to me that I felt I could not go through with it. Then I felt that it was even more important to lose the weight to save my spine.”
Judith came to an appointment with dietitian Helen Davies, who works as part of a metabolic and bariatric team at Central Middlesex Hospital, and started a six-week group dietetics programme which encourages participants to be more conscious about their eating. Judith said, “Helen’s course was so helpful. Every time I was reaching for food, I thought “What would Helen think of this?”
“So many other times on diets I was told “You should be doing this,” or “You should not be eating that”. This was not like that – it was more about being conscious of what you were eating. I found it invaluable.”
Specialist Dietitian Helen explained that the programme, which is provided by London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, encourages a conscious eating philosophy rather than a dieting approach to weight management: “In other words, it helps patients think about their relationship with food as well as "what" they are eating.” It is designed to meet both the needs of patients who are considering bariatric surgery and as an alternative to those who do not want surgery, and is now provided in a community setting. Every year, about fifty patients complete the programme, which is very successful in supporting weight loss, reduction in blood pressure, heart rate and an improved relationship with food. Helen said, “Judith became highly motivated, and put in place a lot of the things that we had discussed in the group. And she just kept going. I was delighted with the remarkable progress Judith had made.”
Judith kept in touch with Helen every few months after she had finished the programme, and they met again once she had met her target two years later. “It was extraordinary, what she had achieved without surgery,” Helen said.
Not only has Judith’s conscious eating meant that she did not need bariatric surgery, it has also made a real difference to her spinal condition. “There would not have been any treatment for my spine except surgery, which would have affected my flexibility. Now it has resolved. I am down from taking eight strong painkillers a day to a couple of paracetamol.”
Judith has now weighed 55 kilos for over five months, and is aiming to lose one more kilo.
“There are problems with losing weight at my age, but it’s a small price to pay – when I look after my granddaughters, even just moving around is easier. The difference to my quality of life has been tremendous.”