Food Psych #139: The Truth About Weight-Loss Surgery & "Food Addiction" with Lisa DuBreuil

Lisa DuBreuil

Social worker and fat activist Lisa DuBreuil joins us to discuss weight loss surgery and its unexpected side effects, what the research really says about this surgery, how it affects people's body image, what the science really says about so-called "food addiction," the intersection of substance abuse and weight-loss surgery, her own journey to recovery from diet culture, how she became a Health at Every Size clinician, how to handle clients seeking weight loss surgery when you’re a weight-inclusive professional, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to make the case for Health at Every Size to skeptics.

Lisa DuBreuil, LICSW is a mom, wife, fat activist, and clinical social worker. Since 2003 she has been a psychotherapist doing individual and group work in an outpatient hospital-based clinic, treating people with co-occurring substance use disorders and eating disorders and more recently people with new-onset SUDs and compulsions following weight loss surgery. She also has a private practice in Salem Massachusetts where she treats people diagnosed with binge eating disorder and people dealing with various problems following weight loss surgery. Lisa helps people live peacefully in their bodies by improving self-care skills and teaching how to navigate our challenging body culture. Contact her at

Grab Christy's free guide, 7 simple strategies for finding peace and freedom with food, to start your intuitive eating journey. You can also text "7STRATEGIES" to the phone number 44222 to get it on the go :)


We Discuss:

  • Lisa’s relationship with food growing up, including her self-consciousness about her size and weight from a young age

  • The historical and geographical roots of the Health at Every Size movement and fat acceptance

  • How diets evolve and the ways in which different foods become demonized

  • The need for compassion for those who transmitted diet culture to us as children

  • Lisa’s experience with body shame, and the ways in which people of all sizes harbor body loathing and internalized weight stigma

  • How chronic dieting can develop into binge eating disorder

  • The long road to gentle nutrition and joyful movement in the intuitive eating process

  • Lisa’s discovery of the Health at Every Size movement, and how it helped her find lasting eating disorder recovery

  • Lisa’s experience as a therapist working with clients struggling with trauma and eating disorders, and her eventual path to becoming a social worker and program director

  • The connection between eating disorders and substance abuse, and the ways in which they are both coping strategies

  • Lisa’s experience working with clients with weight loss surgery

  • Why “food addiction” is different from addiction to substances, including the effect of habituation

  • The difficult side effects and disillusionment of weight loss surgery, including malnutrition and continued body dissatisfaction

  • How internalized fatphobia pushes folks towards weight loss surgeries and is correlated with many of the poor health outcomes often blamed on body size

  • The ways in which internalized weight stigma makes it harder for people to pursue self care

  • The lack of research around long-term outcomes for weight loss surgery

  • Body autonomy, and how to work with clients that are making decisions counter to our personal opinions

  • How intersecting oppressions affect the decisions we make

  • The stress of change, and the need for extra support even in the face of positive outcomes


Resources Mentioned

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Listener Question of the Week

What do I do if I’m trying to spread the Health at Every Size message to professionals in the health promotion field? What research is out there to support the HAES paradigm? How does weight stigma factor into health?

(Resources Mentioned: Linda Bacon’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Lucy Aphramor’s Food Psych Podcast episode, "Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift" by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Deb Burgard’s Food Psych Podcast episode, “The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss” by Deb Burgard et. al., Ragen Chastain’s first and second Food Psych Podcast episodes, Ragen’s Dances With Fat blog)

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