The Importance of Attending Bariatric Support Groups

By Susan Epstein, MS, RD, CDN

People are often hesitant to attend a support group. They may wonder, “Will it be relevant to what I’m going through?” “Will I be put on the spot?”. People attend support groups for various reasons. This article will look at what you can gain from attending a support group.

Education. \Aside from the camaraderie, the facilitator usually presents a particular topic. The chose topic opens the door to discussions that invariably lead to learning new things. Support groups will often have guest speakers. These guest speakers include bariatric professionals such as fitness instructors or plastic surgeons. Additionally, popular speakers are patients who have achieved their weight loss goals and have returned to help and inspire others. Although the topics presented by the professionals are always helpful, the insights you can learn from other patients may prove to be even more helpful. You’re able to hear tricks that worked for your peers and may just work well for you.

Safety.Support groups provide a “safe place” where you can say anything without judgment. You can share your personal struggles and receive an abundance of support along with some great suggestions as well.

Motivation.It’s common for weight loss patients to feel alone. Even with the support from family and friends, you may feel if someone hasn’t gone through the surgery, they can’t fully understand the struggles. This is the purpose of the support group because everyone in attendance DOES understand. They are aware of the emotional, psychological, and physical changes that go along with this journey. Support groups are a place where people can find understanding and encouragement to continue on the path to successful weight loss.

Celebration.Support groups are a place to celebrate your victories. This point relates back to the last point of motivating the person to continue and have the courage to relate their personal success to the group.

Whether you’re at the early stages where you are just learning about bariatric surgery, an early post op patient, or a long time veteran, there can always be some insight or perspective to gain by attending a support group. Let’s face it, life gets busy! Therefore, attending support groups can keep you focused on your journey. It enables you to be held accountable at least once a week or even once a month, to think about staying on the right track. It might just be the boost that you need!

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