How to Respond to 5 Stressful Scenarios Bariatric Patients Face

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, and owner of Level Up Bariatrics, LLC, a bariatric lifestyle coaching program that provides pre and post-op support for weight loss surgery patients. Learn more on Instagram (@level_up_bariatrics).

Embarking on a journey towards weight loss and mental health through bariatric surgery is an exciting decision, but it comes with its own set of challenges. For many individuals, the post-surgery period can be marked by multiple and various stressors that can impact their physical and emotional well-being. From adjusting to dietary changes to coping with body image concerns, managing stress after bariatric surgery is crucial for long-term success. In this blog, we'll explore tips for reducing and managing stress after bariatric surgery related to common challenges and situations after bariatric surgery while addressing the question: can stress cause weight gain?

1) Navigating social situations.

One of the most common stressors for bariatric patients is navigating social situations involving food. Whether attending family gatherings or dining out with friends, the fear of judgment or feeling pressured to eat can be overwhelming. In such scenarios, it's essential to communicate your needs effectively. Let others know about your dietary restrictions and preferences beforehand. Additionally, focus on the social aspect of these gatherings rather than solely on the food. Engage in meaningful conversations and activities to shift the focus away from eating.

2) Dealing with plateaus.

Weight loss plateaus are not uncommon after bariatric surgery and can be incredibly frustrating. Despite following the recommended diet and exercise regimen, seeing the scale stall can trigger stress and feelings of failure. However, it's essential to remember that plateaus are a natural part of the weight loss journey, and weight loss will not look linear. Instead of fixating on the numbers on the scale, focus on non-scale victories such as improved energy levels, increased mobility, or better sleep quality. Stay consistent with your healthy habits, and trust that your efforts will eventually pay off.

3) Managing body image concerns.

Bariatric surgery can lead to significant weight loss, but it doesn't always translate to an immediate improvement in body image. Loose skin, scars, and changes in body shape can contribute to feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity. It's essential to practice self-compassion and remind yourself of the incredible progress you've made towards better health. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who uplift and encourage you. Consider seeking professional help if body image issues significantly impact your mental well-being.

4) Coping with emotional eating triggers.

Stressful situations often trigger emotional eating, which can sabotage your weight loss efforts and result in weight regain if not addressed appropriately and timely. Whether it's work deadlines, relationship conflicts, or financial worries, finding healthier ways to cope with stress is crucial. Identify your emotional eating triggers and develop alternative coping strategies such as mindfulness, journaling, or engaging in physical activity. Therapy is invaluable for identifying and coping with triggers, and building a toolbox of coping mechanisms will empower you to navigate stressful situations without turning to food for comfort.

5) Prioritizing self-care.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, it's easy to neglect self-care, leading to increased stress levels. However, prioritizing self-care is essential for managing stress and maintaining overall well-being. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it's reading a book, taking a walk, or practicing meditation. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques into your daily routine to promote a sense of calm and balance.

While stress is a natural part of life, it's essential to recognize its impact on both physical and mental health, especially after bariatric surgery. By implementing these tips for reducing and managing stress, bariatric patients can navigate the challenges they face with resilience and confidence, ultimately achieving long-term success in their weight loss journey. Remember, prioritizing self-care and seeking support when needed are key ingredients for a healthy and fulfilling post-surgery life.

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

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