How to Support a Loved One After Weight Loss Surgery

Hundreds of thousands of Americans undergo obesity surgery every year, and awareness of these procedures is becoming more and more widespread.

Is your loved one considering weight loss surgery?

Hundreds of thousands of Americans undergo obesity surgery every year, and awareness of these procedures is becoming more and more widespread. Just look at the popular TV show “This Is Us,” in which actress Chrissy Metz’s character decides to have weight loss surgery.

As a friend or family member of someone contemplating weight loss surgery, you have an important part to play. Patients need the support of the people closest to them in order to commit to a healthy lifestyle post-surgery.

Here’s how you can support your loved one during this process.

Emotional Support

Making the decision to have obesity surgery and sticking to a diet and exercise regimen after surgery can be emotionally grueling. The single most important thing you can do is to be there for your loved one. Let them know that you are on this journey with them.

You can do that by:

  • Being a cheerleader, not a coach. Don’t nitpick your loved one for their mistakes. Instead, applaud the things he or she is doing right. Even if they miss a weight loss target, show them love and support for trying.
  • Celebrate with your loved one. If your loved one achieves a goal, plan a fun activity to celebrate, such as going to a movie or a concert. Let them know that you’re just as excited about their achievements as they are.
  • Be interested in more than losing weight. Talk about things besides weight loss. Show your interest and concern in your loved one’s life beyond the issue of dieting and weight.
  • Be positive. Don’t judge your loved one for a bad day. Help them to get back on track by focusing on the future, not the past.
  • Support them in their decision about obesity surgery. While weight loss surgery is a choice, it may be the only option to treat severe weight problems. Ask your loved one what they know about the surgery, seek out information together and keep an open mind.
  • Join them at appointments, classes and support groups. If your loved one needs someone to go along with them to meetings with doctors, for example, offer to join them. It can help relieve your loved one’s nervousness. Plus, you can help ask questions and get more information.
  • Be thoughtful about what you say after surgery. It’s important to be sensitive about how your loved one feels after surgery. Try to avoid making comments about weight after surgery. Be careful about how you congratulate your loved one on their progress.

Dietary Support

Diet and exercise are the pillars of weight loss. Even after weight loss surgery, maintaining a good diet is key to keeping weight off and staying healthy. For you, that means supporting your loved one by helping them eat a good diet.

If you live with your loved one, try to get rid of any tempting foods, like chips, cookies and sodas. By removing unhealthy foods and drinks from your home, you’ll make it easier for your loved one to stick to their diet.

You can also help out with meal planning and food prep. Cooking at home is always preferable to eating out because you can keep track of the ingredients in your food and control the amount of oil and salt you use.

On your days off, plan meals for the week ahead with your loved one’s diet guidelines in mind. Prepare your ingredients in advance so they’re easier to cook after a long day of work. For instance, marinate skinless chicken breasts and chop up vegetables ahead of time so your ingredients are ready to go.

Exercise

The second pillar of weight loss and a post-surgery lifestyle is a regular physical activity.

Participating in exercise is an easy way to support your loved one. Here are some examples of exercise that you can do together.

  • Evening walks. Discussing your day at work? Do it on a nice walk instead of on the couch.
  • Workouts. Whether you’re lifting weights, going to Zumba classes or jogging on the treadmill, it’s always easier to get motivated when you have someone to exercise with.
  • Sports. Get a group of friends together for a weekly game of basketball or volleyball.
  • Home exercises. Even on days when you can’t make time for a full-fledged workout, join your loved one for a shorter home workout with simple jumping jacks, squats and lunges.

For overweight and obese individuals, successful weight loss depends upon the support of the people around them. By supporting your loved one on this journey, you can make weight loss surgery feel less overwhelming.