The Bariatric Counseling Center offers a behavioral approach to weight management completely different from other systems. Through research and experience, we realize that simply offering diet suggestions and exercise tips isn’t enough; a complete lifestyle change is in order. BCC approaches weight management with a more holistic approach, which includes:
• Mindful eating
• Dietary counseling
• Movement instruction and education
• Smart shopping and cooking classes
• Family involvement
• Attitude change about food and eating
• Flexible and sustainable lifestyle modifications
• Focus on overall wellness rather than mere weight loss
San Antonio is the only city in the United States to have such a unique program that is covered by most health insurances. This FAQ addresses some common inquiries and delineates the differences between BCC and the others.
I haven’t had bariatric surgery. Can I still come to the program?
Yes! We work with anyone interested in improving their overall health while implementing behavioral strategies to help lose weight, stop weight gain, or maintain prior weight loss.
Our behavioral interventions help clients improve their relationship with food and improve their wellness habits whether or not they also choose to have weight loss surgery and/or use weight loss medications. We don’t ask for weights prior to scheduling clients in the program, but in general we are looking to work with those with 32+ BMI or who were at 30+ BMI, lost weight and now need support with weight maintenance habits, mental health, etc.
How is this different than a weight loss support group or 12 step program?
The BCC program is an Intensive Outpatient Program that is covered by most insurance plans under your mental health benefits.
Our program offers individual and group psychotherapy to address factors contributing to a problematic relationship with food. Beyond just a support group or place to vent, our group therapy sessions offer clients an opportunity to be therapeutically supported by licensed mental health professionals while being challenged to think and feel differently. Our therapists and dietitians are trained to recognize and treat eating disorders, depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health conditions that can be contributing to eating habits.
Our program also includes cooking classes in our teaching kitchen and guided grocery store tours. There is also an opportunity for the whole support system to get involved; during monthly “family” nights, clients can bring friends and loved ones to participate in the program for a night and learn how to be more supportive.
What exactly do I do while I am in the program and how will I know when I am done?
The BCC program consists of three levels (see descriptions below) that guide treatment with individually assigned therapists and dietitians. Clients recognize their progress and set new goals to progress to the next level. When clients have accomplished their goals and created a plan to maintain their new habits, they work with their therapist to set a date to discharge from the program. Insurance plans have different policies for treatment length so the particulars of your insurance policy may impact the above. We work directly with your insurance company to help you get the time and treatment you need to meet your goals.
Clients on Level 1 are learning more about their relationships with food, feelings and behaviors throughout their life. They are participating in groups by sharing about themselves with others and asking questions of their peers. They are engaging in individual therapy, dietary sessions, and mindful eating practice to gain insight and understanding about their relationship with food, their bodies, and with others.
Clients will spend most of their time on Level 2, working to change patterns and habits. They are expected to be increasing accountability for their choices regarding physical and emotional wellness. They are expected to be actively working to identify and address underlying issues contributing to their relationships with food, self, and others. Each client is expected to actively participate in groups and to be open and honest with themselves, the group, and the clinical team about their struggles and successes. The clients are demonstrating an increased ability to use their coping skills to manage urges to engage in problematic behaviors and to reduce distress. Clients are increasingly able to meet their movement and meal goals they have created with the clinical team.
Clients on Level 3 are preparing to leave our program and demonstrate increased accountability and commitment to the use of skills learned at BCC into their daily life in a sustainable way. Clients demonstrate abilities to advocate for their needs, choose appropriate meals, engage in movement regularly, regularly utilize skills for emotional wellness, and use skills to respond to urges to engage in problematic eating behaviors. They are sharing in group sessions and welcoming and encouraging newer members. They are identifying factors that may arise in the future that could present a challenge.
How does the nutritional component of BCC’s program differ from others that sell specialized food plans?
We help people learn how to choose foods in a variety of different environments (home, restaurants, social events) and how to cook healthy, nutritious meals in cost-saving ways rather than just providing pre-made meals or ingredients. We teach our clients to use practices like Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating to learn that there are many ways to make decisions about food. We help them not to think of foods as being “good” or “bad”. For those client who have undergone bariatric surgery, all staff at BCC have specific knowledge of the dietary needs associated with surgery and prioritize meeting those needs in our program.
Why does BCC include a Teaching Kitchen with professional chefs?
Maintaining a healthy diet goes far beyond heating up a frozen dinner. We offer practical meal preparation demos, expertly prepared in-house. Clients and staff dine together on the chef-prepared meals, practicing mindfulness as they eat. Clients also come away with detailed menus they can take home and prepare for themselves, continuing the positive habits they’ve learned at BCC.
Do I have to exercise? How important is that?
Our encouragement and instruction on incorporating movement throughout the day, instead of or in addition to structured exercise, reflects our focus on wellness rather than weight loss. We help people to improve endurance, flexibility, mobility, increase joy with their bodies, and decrease pain through consistent movement, rather than through mere weight loss. All abilities are taken into account in our guided movement sessions and clients are encouraged to modify movements as needed at each session.
Does BCC prescribe weight loss medications or OTC supplements?
We are happy to coordinate care with our clients’ medical providers, but we do not provide medical weight loss treatment. We have a nurse on staff and our Registered Dietitians will recommend vitamins as needed.
Does BCC offer Telehealth? What geographic areas does BCC serve?
Yes! Clients may attend all programming via telehealth or on-site in our San Antonio Center or a combination of both in-person and via zoom/telehealth. BCC is licensed to serve clients throughout Texas. We have clients from El Paso to Houston, Amarillo to Corpus Christi, and Dallas to McAllen and everywhere in between.
Get in touch with us!
Do you think you would benefit from the Bariatric Counseling Center’s program? Let us tell you more. Contact us for more information.