Weight Loss: 7 Ways to Get Your Family's Support
Learn how to get your loved ones to support your diet -- and how to cope when they don't.
You're determined and steadfast in your decision to finally diet off those extra pounds.
But it's not two days into your new weight loss plan and your kids can't seem to stop munching mounds of potato chips in front of you, your spouse is leaving boxes of cookies open everywhere, and their dinnertime demands for gravy and mashed potatoes make it seem like a conspiracy is underfoot!
You may find yourself wondering "Why is it the minute I start a diet, everyone seems to say and do the wrong things?"
If this all sounds a little too familiar, take heart. While experts caution that most of this type of family behavior is innocent, they concede that getting others to jump on board a diet train isn't always easy.
"It can be very difficult, in fact, when only one member of the family is trying to change their eating habits and the rest of the family either doesn't have to, or really doesn't want to," says Linda Spangle, RN, author of 100 Days of Weight Loss, and a weight loss and nutrition counselor in Denver.
Hard, she says, but not impossible. Many experts agree that with a bit of forethought and some clever conversation, we can not only get our loved ones to support our diet efforts, but also help change everyone's eating habits for the better.
Where do you begin? Experts say it starts with knowing what you want.
Your Perfect World
While you may know exactly what kind of family behavior causes your diet to derail, Spangle says most of us are far less clear on what we really need in terms of support.
"Dieters will say to their family 'I want you to support me on my diet,' and the family member says 'OK, I will,'" says Spangle. "And then they are left on their own to guess how, and most of the time what they guess is wrong."
The end result: The dieter gets frustrated, even furious, and so does the other family member.
The solution, she says, is to stop and think about what you really want in terms of support, then take pen to paper and write your "Perfect World" list. This should consist of the optimum ways your family could lend you a hand, she says.
Be as specific as possible, Spangle tells WebMD.
"Instead of just saying 'Be nicer to me,' or 'Help me,'' give specific ideas about what you would like them to do or not do," says Spangle.
So if you want them to eat dessert in another room, write that down; if you want them to make food a non-issue so your diet is never discussed, write that down, too.
Then, she says, share the list with your family.
"I suggest that patients actually read it out loud in front of the family," Spangle says. "It makes it easier to remember everything that was on your mind."
And do come prepared for a little negotiation.
"Compromise has to be built into your diet mentality from the start, and that's the only way to get your whole family on board," says Joy Bauer, MS, RD, director of Joy Bauer Nutrition in New York.
If you come armed with some negotiating points -- things you can offer up in return for their cooperation -- it may be easier to get it, says Bauer.