Bariatric Boundaries: Helping Loved Ones Understand Your Decision

Article By: Gianna Soussan

Gianna is a seasoned Bariatric Patient & Peer Coach who has lost and maintained 120+ lbs on her journey to better health. She is an advocate within the bariatric community and has made it her life’s mission to share what she’s learned to be successful along the way! Follow her journey on Instagram (@vsgianna_).

We all know that making the decision to undergo bariatric surgery is a deeply personal and often life-changing choice. For many of us struggling with obesity, it represents a path toward better health, increased mobility, and improved overall well-being... But this decision is far from easy for most, myself included. Coming to terms with it can be difficult in and of itself... And sharing your decision with your loved ones can be even more challenging, as it may raise concerns, questions, and even resistance from those closest to you. Often times, these concerns stem from a lack of education and a genuine anxiety about how the outcomes of such a major surgery might impact you. In this article, we'll explore the importance of setting bariatric boundaries with the people in your life and how to help your loved ones understand and support your decision!

1) Understand your motivation. Before discussing your decision with your loved ones, it's crucial to fully understand and articulate your motivation for choosing to have bariatric surgery — this is often referred to in the community as your “why”. Is it about improving your health? Increasing your longevity? Overcoming a specifically debilitating comorbidity? Enhancing your overall quality of life? Clearly expressing your reasons can help your loved ones empathize with your choice and realize that it's rooted in a desire for a healthier and happier future.

2) Communicate openly & honestly. When you're ready to talk about your decision, choose a time and place that allows for an open and honest conversation. Be prepared to answer questions and address concerns, and to emphasize that this decision isn't a quick fix but a well-considered step toward better health with statistically proven outcomes.

3) Share information. Be sure to do your research and provide your loved ones with factual information about bariatric surgery, its benefits, and the potential risks involved. Education is the best way that we can advocate for ourselves as bariatric patients, as it is common that the average person lacks a true understanding of what this means for us. Share success stories and statistics to reassure them that your choice is supported by medical expertise and research. Encourage them to ask questions and seek information from reputable sources.

4) Acknowledge concerns. It's natural for loved ones to have concerns about your safety and well-being — for most, this is a language of love. Acknowledge their worries and let them know that you've also considered these risks. Explain how you and your medical team are working together to minimize them. Educate them on the risks associated with remaining in your current, obese state of health. Reassure them that you've taken a thoughtful and informed approach to this decision to make a change.

5) Set boundaries. Discuss the boundaries you'll need to establish during your journey. Let your loved ones know what kind of support you might require and what may be unhelpful or triggering for you throughout this vulnerable process. Boundaries can include requests for positive encouragement, refraining from food-related discussions or commentary, and respecting/considering your dietary restrictions post-surgery.

6) Offer education. Education is key in advocating for yourself both before and after bariatric surgery. Invite your loved ones to attend informational sessions or appointments with your healthcare team. This can provide them with a better understanding of the process and the role they can play in being a part of your support network. Sometimes, hearing information directly from medical professionals can alleviate concerns.

In conclusion, choosing bariatric surgery is a significant step toward a healthier future, and it's important to have the understanding and support of your loved ones. While their concerns and questions may be valid, setting boundaries and open communication can help bridge the gap between their worries and your decision. Remember: your health and well-being are the top priorities, and by taking this path, you are investing in a better, more fulfilling life. Throughout this journey, you may also seek support from professional resources such as a mental health professional, dietitian, bariatric peer coach, nutritionist, your surgical team, and others within the bariatric community. Keep your eye on the prize... You’ve got this!

PS - Fall is here, which means the beginning of cold and flu season is also upon us! Be sure to check out the BariMelts Immunity Bundle to stay one step ahead of those nasty germs.

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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