Foil Your Friendly Diet Foes
7 strategies to help your diet survive temptations from not-so-supportive friends and loved ones
You've decided to turn over a new leaf and you're telling everyone about it.
You announce proudly that you're committed to your new diet and exercise
routines. Your best friend catches your enthusiasm, and suggests you take an
aerobics class together.
But not everyone is so supportive. During the family dinner, your mother
keeps pressuring you to have some of her homemade desserts, which have always
been your weakness. When you ask her to stop, she says you shouldn't deprive
You can almost hear the buttons being pushed. Something about announcing
your intentions to start making healthy choices about diet and exercise seems
to bring out both the best and the worst in family members and friends.
As a nutrition specialist for Kaiser Permanente Department of Health
Education Services, Bob Wilson has heard it all. He's also lived it: He's lost
250 pounds and kept it off for 30 years.
"Support for positive changes increases the likelihood of it
happening," he says. "But people have an image of us, and some will
resist our changing."
Some friends and family members, he says, may fear that if you change your
habits, YOU will change. Or your new healthy ways may make them feel guilty
about their own fitness foibles. Further, food sometimes helps to define
relationships with the friend you meet for lattes on weekend mornings, the
spouse who shares chips with you on the couch, the mother whose goodies you've
always had a soft spot for.
So what should we do to gain the support we need? Here are some tips from
Wilson and other experts.
1. Don't make food the focus
First off, Wilson advises renegotiating relationships that revolve around
"My grandmother used to fry a pound of bacon and a dozen eggs for me,
give me half-gallons of ice cream, and we'd go to all-you-can-eat restaurants
together," he tells WebMD. "When I told her I was committed to losing
weight, I suggested exploring new ways we could connect.
We found that we both like gardening and going for walks, so that's what we
did. She became willing to show that she loved me without using food."
2. Look for support in the right places
Further, experts say, you shouldn't set yourself up by looking for support
in the wrong places. Remember that people do things for their own reasons, not
for your reasons.
Maybe you have a mental image of your spouse going for walks with you in the
evening, like other couples you've seen. He has a right to say "No,"
and you have a right to do what will make you fit. Walk with a neighbor, take
an aerobics class or hire a personal trainer.