How to Support A Loved One Who is Having Weight Loss Surgery
Do you know someone who is planning to have weight loss surgery? Here are five ways you can show your support.
Consider the following scenario — someone you love has just been brave enough to share their weight loss surgery decision with you. You might feel surprised or even a little nervous. Of course, you want to be supportive, but you’re not quite sure how to give them what they need. Is an “I’m so happy for you!” enough? Would it be overstepping to voice your concerns? If you’re at a loss at how to support your spouse, partner, parent, child, or friend during their weight loss journey, start here.
Bariatric Surgery Basics
Bariatric surgery is a weight loss procedure recommended for obese individuals who have tried to lose weight through diet and exercise in the past, but with little long-term success. Bariatric surgery works by reducing the size of the stomach and changing the body’s relationship to food, making the procedure especially effective for weight loss.
During gastric bypass, for example, a bariatric surgeon makes the stomach pouch smaller. This limits how much food you can consume and helps you lose weight by reducing your calorie intake. Gastric bypass also impacts the way your body absorbs nutrients from food, which kicks your metabolism into high gear.
There are numerous physical and emotional benefits of bariatric surgery. In addition to losing 60 to 80 percent of your excess weight, you can dramatically reduce your risk of developing serious health complications like skin cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea. Surgery also increases mobility and makes it easier to maintain an active lifestyle. From a mental and emotional standpoint, numerous studies have shown that people who have weight loss surgery feel more confident, less depressed, and more willing to try new things.
How to Support Your Loved Ones
Now that you know a little bit about the amazing benefits of weight loss surgery, you’re probably even more motivated to support your loved one through their journey. Start with these five simple tips.
1. Help Them Do Their Research
Your loved one will likely start preparing for weight loss surgery by doing a lot of research about different treatment options. This is an excellent opportunity for you to get involved and show them that you’re there for them from the very beginning. As you learn, you also might find that your own uncertainties about surgery will be put to rest.
Weight loss surgery can be an emotional experience, and your loved one will probably want to share their concerns with you. It may be tempting to jump in and try to solve their problems, but that’s not your responsibility. In fact, trying to offer tips or correct their behavior might make them feel worse. Be an empathetic listener and a confidante, not necessarily an advisor (unless specifically asked).
3. Join Them in Their Lifestyle Changes
When it comes to lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, you may want to be a little bolder with your support. Offer your services as a workout buddy or prepare more nutritious meals for the entire family so your loved one doesn’t feel like they’re the only one making dietary changes. This will show your loved one that you’re committed to helping them get healthy in whatever way you can. Plus, you may reap some health benefits for yourself while you’re at it!
4. Avoid Talking About Weight at First
As you see your loved one get slimmer and stronger, it’s tempting to constantly comment on their weight loss progress. Resist this impulse, at least for now. Their weight loss journey will require a monumental adjustment and they might feel overwhelmed if weight loss takes over every conversation. Respect their privacy during this transition period, and ask them what kinds of conversation topics would be most helpful or affirming.
5. Celebrate In New Ways
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate your loved one’s weight loss progress. The only rule here is to avoid celebrating with food. Instead of commemorating your loved one’s accomplishments with a special meal, opt for a movie night or other treat. Be creative!
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of bariatric surgery, contact Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors today! Our licensed counselors have been guiding bariatric surgery patients and their loved ones for years, and they have many valuable insights to share.