A reader of My Bariatric Life recently contacted us to voice her concerns about the difficulty of establishing a bariatric support network. Her concerns are well-founded and not unusual. Many bariatric patients struggle to find the balance needed to address their personal recovery needs in the post-weight loss surgery world. Many bariatric patients also meet that challenge and successfully build a viable, multi-dimensional bariatric support network. There is no reason why any person who has had weight loss surgery cannot construct a reliable and useful post-bariatric support network.
Reader Finds it Challenging to Build a Bariatric Support Network
This reader was kind enough to share some of the difficulties she is having shaping her bariatric support network. She is having a hard time finding a mental health professional who specializes in compulsive overeating and binge eating. She received no aftercare from the hospital where the bariatric surgery was performed. She could not find a suitable Overeaters Anonymous group. And she has a primary care physician who knows very little about bariatric surgery.
I don’t dispute any of this. Building a bariatric support network can be hard.
How to Build Your Bariatric Support Network
When creating your bariatric support network it is useful to remember that it should be a compilation of what works. Read, “Support after Bariatric Surgery is Key.”
If your bariatric surgeon cannot accommodate your aftercare needs then try contacting other area surgeons and hospitals. Even though you may not have been a patient, you likely can attend their bariatric support groups and get other good information that helps to answer your needs. Some hospital bariatric support groups even offer patients the ability to conference call-into the meetings. You can find weight loss surgeons and ask about their bariatric support groups on Bariatric Surgery Source. Or find a support group through the Obesity Action Coalition.
Starting your own group is another possibility. You might be able to resource a competent moderator, as well. Many weight loss surgery patients undergo training to become bariatric coaches through Colleen Cook’s Bariatric Support Centers International (BSCI).
The same can be said about your primary physician. If he does not have a knowledge about bariatric surgery, you are free to research other doctors who might.
There also are twelve step programs that can be useful. Try to find a smaller group. More intimate groups will give you the attention you need as opposed to larger gatherings where you can get lost in the crowd. Not everyone in the group is a good connection for your personal needs but there should be some you can build a rapport with. You are looking for allies in your recovery. Read, “OA Overeaters Anonymous after Surgery.”
Online groups can be a valuable addition to your bariatric support network. Check out BariatricPal or Facebook groups like Bariatric Weight Loss Family. Among the benefits, support and suggestions are immediately available when you need them. And regular participation in a support group has been shown to increase weight loss by 12%. Online bariatric support groups also can be a conduit to bariatric professionals.
Also seek out a dietician or nutritional counselor and get involved in a gym where trainers can offer advice and help develop a program of exercise to suit your personal needs. Read, “Exercising after Bariatric Surgery.”
Finally, some people turn to substances or alcohol misuse to replace overeating. If this sounds like you then look into programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Start Your Recovery.
It’s Up to You to Craft Your Bariatric Support Network
You need to be your own best ally. There are people who can enhance your recovery but discovery is your responsibility. Building a bariatric support network should be a relentless process until set goals are accomplished. It then becomes a relentless process to keep secure those goals while pursuing the next goal or block of goals. Failure is made through surrender. Don’t. Give. Up.
When I used to counsel, clients frequently asked what were their chances for recovery. My response was always the same: If they were only one in a million, didn’t you come here to be that one? Be the one.
Here are a few resources for building your bariatric support network:
Obesity Action Coalition find a support group
Overeaters Anonymous find a meeting
Bariatric Surgery Source find a surgeon’s support group
Bariatric Support Centers International find a support group
National Eating Disorders Association find support
Alcoholics Anonymous find a meeting
Start Your Recovery find support
BariatricPal online patient forum
ObesityHelp online patient forum
Bariatric Weight Loss Family Facebook group
Bariatric Surgery Women’s Support Group on Facebook
In good health,
Content is the opinion of the author and does not constitute or is a replacement for medical advice.