Unconditional Support – The gift every weight loss surgery patient wants
The media is not doing bariatric patients any favors. Many stories go something like this: “Patient lost 150 pounds without Gastric Bypass”. They did not mention that the success rate of maintaining the weight loss over 5 years is about 3-5%? Maybe you heard this story: “Patient regained all the weight after Lap-Band”. What was the cause? Was the patient getting the support they needed? “Patient becomes an alcoholic after Sleeve Gastrectomy”, hinting that bariatric surgery will lead to an addiction transfer. Was the patient offered the help she needed?
Obesity is a complex, chronic disease. There are many reasons why people become obese. Bariatric surgery helps fight obesity because it helps patients feeling satisfied with less food. Nothing more. Bariatric surgery is not the easy way out. It is hard work. Lifelong work. It includes attending support groups, daily exercise and healthy food choices. Friends and family can be instrumental in the success with bariatric surgery, their unconditional support playing a vital role.
How family and friends can give unconditional support
Learn about Bariatric Surgery and read the patient education materials and information on our website.
Avoid insults, lectures, or guilt trips
Lecturing, negativity, getting upset, or issuing ultimatums will only increase stress and make the situation worse. Don’t make the person feel threatened. It is not your job to dictate what they should and shouldn’t do. Instead, make it clear that you care about the person’s health and happiness and you’ll continue to be there for him or her.
Try to listen without judgment and make sure the person knows you care. Be gentle and caring, and be prepared to listen without offering mounds of advice. You are not the person’s therapist, nor should you pretend to be. Being a good listener means your ears are open and your mouth is shut, you are not intervening with “yeah, I know what you mean, that happened to me once when….” – just listen. If they then finish and ask what your thoughts or opinions are, be honest and caring.
Don’t continuously ask what the person has or hasn’t eaten, how much weight they have lost, or how great or bad they look after gaining or losing. Be respectful and courteous and do not try to be The Food Police. You cannot always continue to stride forward without a stumble from time to time. It’s okay. If your loved one slips up, it doesn’t mean they can’t get back on track again.
Set a good example by eating healthily
Take the junk out of the house – no the kids don’t need it either. Replace with yummy, healthy, protein-rich foods everyone can enjoy.
Give the gift of time
Understand that in order to be most successful with bariatric surgery, patients need to exercise daily, take time to eat their meals and attend support groups. Find ways to help with housework and offer to take care of children or an elderly parent to free up personal time.
Encourage them to find support
Support can be from others who share the same experiences, through support groups listed through Griffin Bariatrics. Offer to go along. Suggest professional help in a gentle way. Dr. Timothy Ehrlich also works with several Food Addiction Specialists that many patients have found helpful.
Find fun ways to be physically active together. Sign up for a ballroom dancing class, go snowshoeing, or go for a long walk with the dog.
Encourage regular follow-up with Dr. Timothy Ehrlich
Compliance with daily bariatric multivitamin, calcium and protein supplement intake. Bariatric multivitamins and calcium are necessary to prevent malnutrition after weight loss surgery.
Take care of yourself
Be a good role model and manage stress in a positive way. Know when to seek advice for yourself from a counselor or health professional. Weight loss surgery can be stressful for friends and family as well, and it will help if you have your own support system in place.
Griffin Bariatric Support Services
To receive support from Griffin Bariatrics for successful weight loss and lifestyle modifications, please register for the On Track Support Group and the On Track Workshop. If you would like to learn more about weight loss surgery, please register for a free seminar.
Questions? Ask Kim!
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Need help registering for support groups, monthly workshops or bariatric seminars? Unsure of the process or how to begin? We take pride in offering concierge style guidance for all current and potential patients.