How Will Bariatric Surgery Affect My Relationship with Others?

Chances are that if you are preparing to undergo bariatric surgery, your relationship with food has been unhealthy. As part of your preparation, you’ve learned more about the emotional impact food has on your life, why you’ve struggled with your weight and the permanent changes you can expect after the procedure, but while you are looking forward to a fitter, healthier you, others in your life may struggle to adjust. Understanding how your weight loss will affect your friends, co-workers and spouse can help you lay the foundation for a smoother transformation.

Co-workers

Within every workplace are food and relationship dynamics that your weight loss may threaten. Popular food-centric events may no longer appeal to you and as you gain confidence and energy, you’ll need less support from co-workers, making some feel threatened. Consider these ways to make them feel more secure:

– Include them in your surgical preparation. Make them feel like they’re on your team.
– Act thin. Manage your eating habits at work and if food is a big part of your work culture, suggest healthy changes in advance.

Friends

Relationships are often geared toward mutual interests and if your best, but overweight friend loves greasy popcorn and movie binges, it’s unlikely she’ll want to pursue the more active lifestyle you are working toward. You will still be you after your weight loss, but with a whole new world of opportunity before you, it’s likely you’ll make at least a few choices that won’t be consistent with your past behavior. Friends may say, “You’ve changed.” and some will fall away but take these steps to keep those that matter.

– Share your feelings. Don’t be afraid to let good friends know you’re worried your lifestyle change will affect your relationship. Chances are they are having the same feelings and will welcome the opportunity for an honest discussion.
– Find at least one new fitness-related activity you can start sharing before your procedure. Try one new, healthier dining spot.

Spouses

It’s not uncommon for obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle to bring people together in a marriage and when one partner has weight loss surgery, at least one study finds that divorce rates increase. For some relationships, it’s the loss of food-related activities that were central to life. For others, it’s insecurity, jealousy or even fear. There’s no way to know with certainty what a new lifestyle will mean for your relationship with your spouse but consider these ways to help your partner knows he or she matters.

– Change at least some eating habits together before the procedure.
– Focus on the parts of your relationship that are not food-related.

Bariatric surgery changes the way your body deals with food, but it won’t help you manage how others see you after a significant weight loss. Being proactive can help. With support, you will be successful.