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Foil Your Friendly Diet Foes

7 strategies to help your diet survive temptations from not-so-supportive friends and loved ones
WebMD Feature

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 yourself.

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 food.

"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."

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