Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the transformation of food in the clinical management of obesity and diabetes through metabolic surgery, and concomitant shifts in selfhood, identity, intimacies, and commensality as the surgery's power extends beyond the individual upon whose body it has intervened.
Paper long abstract:
Bariatric surgery, also referred to as metabolic surgery, involves a considerable reduction of the size of the stomach and major permanent changes in diet and eating habits. With the medicalization of obesity in the 2000s, and the association in the last few years of the surgery with the remission of type 2 diabetes, food has transformed significantly in the clinical management of disease, and in the resocialization of patient selfhood and relations to others. Based on research with the patients of a weight services clinic in a large health care system in the US, we describe the ways food is reconceptualized from being at the center of "lifestyle choices" aimed at a healthful and balanced approach to "living with diabetes," to a form of medicine "to sustain" rather than enjoy in post-metabolic surgery life meant to be free from diabetes medications. We explore the transformations of intimacies, commensality, and power that the preparation for and adaptation to post-surgical bodies demand, focusing on the entanglement of food socialities in practices of care and reconfigurations of the self-body world. We examine the co-transformation of patient identities, social and political landscapes, as the surgery's power extends beyond the individual upon whose body it has intervened.
Food as medicine: biosocialities of eating in health and illness