How to support someone through weight loss surgery: Post-op edition

How to support someone through weight loss surgery: Post-op edition

This post follows on from last weeks Pre-op edition so head there to read that first!

The initial post-op stage

The first few weeks after any weight loss surgery are tough for quite a few reasons. You’re coming to terms with just how big the changes are that you chose for yourself. Your relationship with food has completely changed overnight and that can be tough to handle when the magnitude of that starts to sink in. Your diet stages and recommendations are changing all the time and sometimes food doesn’t agree with you. Every meal can feel like a gamble because you never know if your new tiny tummy is going to tolerate it. The best thing you can do at this stage is listen and support your friend when and where they need it.

This is not the time to suggest anything diet related. Your friend needs to follow the directions they have been given and if you can help in a practical way or just by remembering the stage they are at it will be much appreciated. The biggest annoying thing I remember from this stage was my Mum constantly taking about food to me. Granted she was working as a chef at the time, but I was not in the space to be discussing menus and cooking techniques with her. If I asked her not to talk about it she wouldn’t but it felt almost cruel to talk to me about food at the time.

Try to take note of the main things your friend is doing and making changes in. If you remember the little things, like them not being able to drink around and at the time of eating, you will be appreciated so much. I generally take it in my stride when people ask me the same questions over and over now, but initially it was exhausting having to explain or remind someone why I wasn’t doing something.

You might find you friend is all consumed by the surgery, the process, their diet and their food/protein intake for a few months. Friendship goes both ways and it shouldn’t be a one-way street but I’m sure once your friend gets through the hardest bits of this, and they are not so focused on their own day-to-day they will be there for you in the way you’ve been there for them through this. Don’t take it personally, it’s a huge change and it can be hard to see outside of it for a while. I encourage people to be self-centred and put themselves first after surgery because it is necessary but don’t worry, this too shall pass.

Long-term post-op

After a while all of this weight loss surgery stuff is going to become your friend’s default and it won’t be on their mind so much. In saying that though, they aren’t going to magically have no issues with their body and/or weight. Depending on your situation it can be hard to be sympathetic if your friend is making good progress but head issues are strong and take longer to start changing. It’s good to remind them how far they have come sometimes, things can still get hard and they may need some support or a bit of a boost to help them get back on the top of their game.

If you’re supporting someone or know someone who is going through weight loss surgery get ready to see the most awesome transformation right before your eyes. Emotionally and physically it’s a really tough thing to go through and the support of great people around you makes all of the difference. Try to support them without being judgemental, try not to make throwaway comments that may come off as backhanded compliments (it’s too easy I know!) and let your friend know your friendship is important and not at all dependant on what they look like or how big their body is. One of the nicest things that was said to me after my surgery was when I showed my best friend a before picture and she told me she had never seen me like that.

If you’re reading this then you’re already exactly the kind of friend anyone going through weight loss surgery wants to have. Be supportive, let them vent, don’t focus your interactions on food (go for a walk instead!), and just be the friend you would want along for the ride with you. Good luck in your spectator journey, you’re going to make it easier on your friend and for that I want to give you a massive high-five and buy you a coffee!

For any weight loss people reading this, what were the best things your support people did through your journey? Comment below and let me know.

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There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Carolyn at 8:22 pm

    thank you thank you thank you……Hubby will read this too….You are such an awesome writer!!! I so appreciate that you take the time to write your blog…you cover so many things!!

  2. Emma at 9:59 pm

    Love this. Wish someone had written it before you underwent your adventure – would have helped me and others support you better xxxx

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