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Are Your Relationships Making You Fat?

5 strategies for dealing with non-dieting loved ones
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WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Exclusive Feature

Learning to eat less of the high-calorie foods you love isn't always easy. What can make it even harder: having to stare down those fattening foods at your very own dinner table.

From the spouse who brings you a huge box of chocolates on Valentine's Day to the mother-in-law who plies you with home-baked goodies to the skinny friend who invites you to uber-fattening lunch dates, the result is much the same. While their intentions may be all good, experts say the results can be all bad for the dieter trying to stick to a healthy eating plan.

"In most cases, tempting a dieter with food or treats they know are forbidden is really an unconscious act on the part of the non-dieter, says Charles Goodstein, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical Center. "Still, when it happens, it can make sticking to your resolve a lot more difficult."

If this sounds familiar, take heart! Three experts interviewed by WebMD offer five simple strategies to help keep you from falling off the weight loss wagon, even when you're surrounded by non-dieting friends and loved ones.

1. Make a Statement

While it may seem that your partner or other loved one is deliberately tempting you by bringing home that quart of premium ice cream, experts say their intentions are probably not what they seem.

According to Nancy Restuccia, MS, RD, folks who don't have issues with food frequently don't realize the level of temptation experienced by people who do. So it's up to the dieter to make his or her feelings known.

"You have to let your partner know that having all this food in plain view breaks down your willpower, making it harder for you to stick to your meal plan," says Restuccia, a dietitian at the Center for Obesity Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

Also important, she says, is to let them know this has nothing to do with being weak-willed.

"They need to understand that no one has an unending supply of willpower -- and no matter how strong you are, you just can't stare fattening foods in the face every day without your willpower breaking down," Restuccia tells WebMD.

The best approach, she says, is to directly ask your loved ones not to give you food as gifts -- and, more important, to eat any calorie-laden food they enjoy themselves when you aren't around to see, hear, and smell it.

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