The entire process of bariatric surgery from beginning to end can be a long and challenging road, but it is well worth the effort. It requires many different doctor’s appointments, testing and screenings, nutrition education, major lifestyle changes, and sometimes a weight loss requirement. If you know someone who is going through the process to improve their health, they need all the support and positivity to help get them to where they want to be. There are many things you can do to help your loved one feel supported; here are a few tips and suggestions!
- Be sensitive, caring and understanding. Respect the choice your loved one has made to have bariatric surgery. They should never feel as if you are “judging” them because of the decision they have made. There are reasons they are making this big decision, and they are aware of the risks involved.
- Demonstrate an interest in learning about the bariatric procedure. Offer to accompany them to their doctor’s appointments, nutrition education sessions, and the pre-op education class so that you can become educated as well. The more you know about the details of the procedure and the required lifestyle changes, the more help you can be.
- Ask them what he/she feels you can do to further support their efforts. In addition to emotional support, perhaps they would like support with grocery shopping, food preparation or commitment to an exercise partnership! *Exercising is a very important factor in facilitating weight loss, muscle toning and contributes to an overall healthy lifestyle, and is also a big stress reliever! Garnet Health Medical Center has partnered with AYO Fitness in Middletown, NY to offer a “bariatric patient only” exercise class with one of their professional exercise specialists. The class welcomes bariatric patient partners/family members as well! Other ideas include going for family walks, hikes, bike rides, throwing a Frisbee in the park, golfing, swimming etc! Being active together as a couple or family is a great way to bond and stay motivated (and have fun too!).
- Plan and prepare meals together. This can help reduce stress or arguments related to meal selection and preparation. Your loved one doesn’t want to feel like they are the only one having to eat a certain way and the only one making healthy changes that are not always easy. Sit down as a family/couple and make a weekly grocery shopping list that includes healthy foods that everyone enjoys. Everyone can benefit from eating more vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins! Choose new recipes or healthier versions of some of your favorites. This is an excellent way for you to learn about the types of food your loved one will be consuming in his/her new lifestyle. When you become savvy with the type of foods and portion sizes, you may just find yourself eating healthier and losing weight too! There is nothing more difficult when trying to make healthier food choices than when the people around you are eating unhealthy, highly appetizing food that smells great. Food can be very addicting for some, and if the food is out of sight, it will be out of mind. Imagine bringing an alcoholic to an open bar – that would not be ideal, and would be very challenging for that person to resist. Food can absolutely have similar power over people, so try to be supportive in that regard as best as you can.
- Openly communicate with your partner how you feel about the lifestyle changes suggested and how you would like to help implement them, for the good of your partner, yourself, but also to improve your entire family’s overall quality of life.
- Accompany your partner to monthly Bariatric Support Group meetings. At Garnet Health Medical Center we offer support groups for pre and post-op patients together, or a post-op patient only support group meeting as well. All support groups are open to the general public. To find out the support group schedule and to register, go to https://www.garnethealth.org/events