Why supporting a friend/loved one losing weight is important



Social support can come in many forms:

  • Direct aid in the needed activity (like joining you for a walk, or helping you plan/make/prepare healthy foods)
  • Aid in another activity that frees them up for the needed activity (like watching your kids so you can go to the gym without undue stress)
  • Removing obstacles that would normally be in the way (not scheduling a meeting at lunch time so you can get your walk in)
  • Direct encouragement (“I think what you’re doing is awesome!”)
  • Declining to discourage (not doing your usual friendly teasing during this time)

When someone is trying to lose weight, don’t:

  • Tell them “You should…”: “You should join a gym,” “You should follow the _____ diet,” “You should stop eating ____.” Just get “You should” out of your vocabulary. What follows will almost always be interpreted as judgment and criticism.
  • Aggressively offer them food: “But I made this just for you!” “You’re crazy! You don’t have to lose weight,” “Have one, they’re good!” Maybe you’re proud of your cooking or your hospitality, but try being more considerate instead.
  • Act as the food police: “Are you supposed to eat that?” “I thought you weren’t going to eat that anymore.” Just cut it out. Nobody is perfect, so stop pointing out their faults.
  • Bombard them with advice: If they ask for your opinion once, it doesn’t give you license to make them into your personal project. There is a limit, even if advice is solicited.
  • Embarrass them about it: There isno need to announce their weight loss plans to everyone in the room. They can control the message themselves.
  • Celebrate things with food gifts: Wrong signal.
  • Ask why they ate something: “Why” is usually interpreted as an attack on their decisions.
  • Eat in front of them: Seeing other people eat is one of the most powerful food cues. You could be making their mouths water and stomach growl.
  • Threaten them: Making your decent treatment of them contingent on their weight loss success is mean, and they will likely rebel against you, if only for their own dignity.
  • Minimize the struggle: “Just don’t eat so much.” Baloney. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. And just because something is easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for others.
  • Guilt them for no longer being “fun”: This is selfish, or worse.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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