Building a Support System After Weight Loss Surgery

 

Building a support system following bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery is a major life change that can be overwhelming to navigate on your own. That's why building a solid support system is an absolute must. Having a group of people who are there to cheer you on, offer a helping hand, and provide a listening ear can make all the difference. They can help ease the emotional and physical burdens that come with the procedure and make your journey towards a healthier you a whole lot smoother. Here we'll explore the benefits of having a support system, offer tips for building one, and provide helpful resources for when you need a little extra guidance.


Why Building a Support System Matters

Bariatric surgery is a major life change, and it can be very difficult to navigate on your own. You’re likely going to need emotional and practical support to help you through the physical and emotional changes that come with the procedure. Here are a few reasons why building a support system is critical:

  • Emotional support: First and foremost, emotional support is key. Bariatric surgery can bring up a lot of emotions, from excitement to anxiety to fear. It's important to have a network of people who can offer a listening ear, words of encouragement, and a shoulder to lean on when things get tough. Your support system should be made up of people who are invested in your well-being and who will be there for you every step of the way.
  • Practical support: You may need help with everyday tasks as you recover from surgery, such as grocery shopping or preparing meals. Additionally, a support system can help you stick to your new diet and exercise regimen by providing accountability and motivation, and lending you a helping hand to make your recovery after bariatric surgery a little easier .
  • Connection with other bariatric patients: Connecting with others who have gone through bariatric surgery can be incredibly helpful. They can offer guidance and empathy based on their own experiences, and can help you feel less alone in your journey. Support groups are a great way to connect with others who have undergone the same procedure and can provide a wealth of knowledge and understanding.

Tips for Building a Support System

Here are a few tips for building a strong support system after bariatric surgery:

  • Identify potential supporters: Make a list of family, friends, and acquaintances who may be able to provide emotional and practical support. Think about who you can rely on for help with everyday tasks, someone to talk to when you need encouragement or motivation, and someone who can be there for you when things get tough.
  • Communicate your needs: Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for help when you need it. Your support system is there to help you, but they may not know what you need unless you tell them. Be open and honest about your challenges and concerns, and let your supporters know how they can best help you, including your needs for nutrition post bariatric surgery.
  • Join a support group: They offer a safe and supportive environment to share experiences, offer and receive advice, and connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Ask your doctor or dietician if they know of any local bariatric support groups since they are in contact with many other patients. It’s not easy to talk about some of your issues to someone in person, so an online support group is a nice way to talk to other bariatric patients without really putting yourself out there to people in your daily life.
  • Connect with a registered dietitian: Eating healthy after bariatric surgery is crucial for your recovery and long-term success. But we know that it can be difficult to navigate on your own. That's where a registered dietitian can come in and offer a helping hand. They can work with you to create a meal plan that meets your specific dietary needs and restrictions, while also providing help with portion control, choosing the right foods, or just staying motivated.
  • Consider therapy or counseling: Bariatric surgery is not just a physical transformation, but an emotional one as well. If you're struggling with body image issues or have a history of eating disorders, you're not alone. That's why therapy or counseling can be a valuable resource to help you work through any issues that arise. A compassionate therapist can offer you support, guidance, and a listening ear to help you navigate the emotional ups and downs of your journey. They are there to provide you with the tools you need to cope with anxiety, stress, or any other issues that may arise. Remember, it's okay to ask for help, and seeking support from a professional can make a world of difference in your journey.

Common Challenges With Building Your Support Group

Building a strong support system is so crucial for your success after bariatric surgery. However, it's not always easy to find the right people or resources to create a solid foundation of support. Here are a few common challenges that bariatric patients may face when building their support group:

  • Lack of understanding from family and friends: Some family members or friends may not completely understand the changes you're going through after bariatric surgery. This can be discouraging, but be patient with your loved ones, and try to communicate your needs as clearly as possible.
  • Limited access to support groups: Depending on where you live, it may be challenging to find a local support group that meets your specific needs. This can make it challenging to connect with others who understand what you're really going through.
  • Fear of judgment or stigma: Some bariatric patients may feel stigmatized or judged for undergoing surgery or seeking support. This fear can make it difficult to open up and connect with others, hindering the building of a strong support system.
  • Difficulty finding the right healthcare professionals: Finding the right healthcare professionals, such as a registered dietitian or therapist, can be challenging. This can make it difficult to access the practical support and guidance needed for a successful recovery. Even if this is difficult to do, it is well-worth your time to find a proper dietitian and therapist.

Help and Resources

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you build a strong support system and offer help and guidance after bariatric surgery:

  • Support groups and online forums: Check out the American Bariatrics Online Support Group, or Obesity Action Coalition for online support. There are many more online support groups out there and most of them are completely free.  Joining a support group can help you connect with others who understand what you're going through, and provide valuable advice and encouragement that you will not find anywhere else.
  • Bariatric surgery centers and programs: Many hospitals and medical centers offer bariatric surgery programs with access to support groups, nutrition counseling, and exercise programs. This is a great resource since they offer specialized care tailored to your specific needs.
  • Professional counseling and therapy services: Bariatric surgery is a significant life change, and it's natural to experience emotional challenges along the way. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and counseling services can help you work through any emotional challenges that arise after surgery. Consider connecting with a therapist or counselor who specializes in bariatric surgery to help you navigate your emotional journey.
  • Nutritional and exercise resources: Eating healthy and staying active are crucial components of post-surgery recovery. Look for resources online or in your community for healthy eating and exercise guidance. A registered dietitian can also provide personalized nutrition counseling to help you reach your goals.

Conclusion


Building a strong support system is key to a successful journey after bariatric surgery. You'll need emotional and practical support to help you through the changes that come with the procedure. Consider joining a support group, connecting with a registered dietitian, or seeking therapy or counseling. Common challenges like limited access to support groups, fear of judgment, or difficulty finding healthcare professionals can be overcome with patience and the right resources. Remember, building a support system takes time and effort, but the benefits are immeasurable!

 

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