We are a surgeon and dietitian team that has been practicing for years in bariatrics. We founded the Art of Bariatrics after discovering that not everyone had access to high-quality nutrition and lifestyle education that is specific to bariatric surgery. Even though the research says that 1/3 of all people who have weight loss surgery will eventually regain weight, we believe that with the right tools and education you can beat these statistics. At the Art of Bariatrics, we want you to thrive, not simply survive.
Hi! I’m Bonnie Buckingham, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist. I graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and Exercise Physiology. I went on to earn a Master of Science in Nutrition from Colorado State University and completed a clinical internship at Oregon Health & Science University.
My interest in health started when I was younger and active playing sports. I was curious about how the foods we eat could impact our performance. Around the time I was 16, I found yoga in a small studio above a coffee shop in my small town and read about Ayurveda. It was then that I first became fascinated with the relationship humans have had with food over the centuries and how different cultures each have their own ideas about how the food we eat impacts our health. At the same time, I was struggling with a different demon, one I wasn’t even fully cognizant of at the time. I had an unhealthy relationship with food and body dysmorphia. Food was both a source of emotional comfort and the enemy. I craved it so much to soothe my feelings, but constantly hated myself for not having the self-control to restrict so I could be “thin.”
I’ll come back to that point above in a bit.
Many of you may not know this, but becoming a registered dietitian is a lengthy process. I had to complete 4 years of a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University (which I made 5 years since I also studied exercise physiology). Then I completed a year-long clinical internship at Oregon Health and Science University and took a national exam to practice medical nutrition therapy in clinical settings. Soon after, I completed my Master’s degree at Colorado State University. In total, I spent 8 years learning about nutrition!
When you spend that long learning about nutrition and health, you can’t help but start examining your own life. While I have known many colleagues who have striven for masterful clean eating and a diligent exercise routine, I started wondering if this was really all there was to our food. Is that all it is for us? A tool to shame ourselves and each other, a constant source of stress and anxiety?
And I knew that anxiety all too well.
In fact, my anxiety led me to start having terrible stomach pain and digestive problems that felt debilitating. I was under so much pressure to perform, to be perfect. In the medical field, you are told that you need to be the best at everything, or all your hard work will go to waste because you won’t get accepted into a good program. I was so stressed that these chronic digestive issues eventually led me to a gastroenterologist at the age of 22. As you can imagine, for someone with body image and food issues, all of this stress led me to eat emotionally, then restrict, then emotionally eat again.
I was stuck in a spiral of having too much knowledge, but not enough wisdom. I couldn’t reconcile that I needed comfort, and I needed health.
I didn’t solve this overnight. It took seeing a counselor and years of practicing intuitive eating before I finally felt in control of my health. I had to give myself permission to eat food because I truly enjoy it, and eat food because I respect and care for my body. I had to look in the mirror and know that choosing to eat those tacos might mean that I always keep a couple extra rolls around my stomach, but it’s ok because I have a strong, healthy body.
There has to be a balance between eating foods you truly love and enjoy the comfort food brings and choosing foods that nourish and heal your body. We need to strive for balance. To find peace and joy with food, there must be respect and love in what we eat. I choose to eat healthy foods because I respect my body, andI choose to eat foods I love because I respect my needs as a human being.
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