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Weightloss Tips: What To Do When Friends and Family Are Unsupportive

April 27, 2015 4 min read

Sometimes it happens, you commit to make a change for the better, a change for a healthier you and the people you expect to support you the most, make it incredibly difficult for you to stay on track.

When the saboteur is your partner:

Psychologist Judith Beck, PhD, president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Philadelphia, and author of The Beck Diet Solution, says they may be intimidated by this new you. "They may be scared that you won't need them in your life after you drop a dress size." But you don't have to end things over it, use these strategies to stay on track. If you think he may be intimidated by you, Susan Bowerman, RD, assistant director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that you try this script: "I know my new food plan is a lot for you to handle, because we like to split dishes at restaurants and we have fun eating together. I'm concerned about my health, so I'm working hard to eat better. My commitment to us has not changed, though. Would you support me and consider joining me?" Bowerman recommends having this conversation in a causal moment and not directly before a mean when he may be most sensitive to these changes. It may take him time, but hopefully he'll come around. It isn't fun to sit down with pizza and cookies when the person across from you is eating a salad...


When the saboteur is friends or family:

Your Family: It is hard to say no when you go to your mom's for dinner. You start telling yourself 'but she worked so hard to make all this for me' and before you know it, you've caved and are eating something naughty. "For many women, it's not okay to disappoint, which is why family gatherings can be stressful," Beck says. If you are a people pleaser sort, you'll be even more likely to cave. You can avoid this by telling your mother (or whatever loved one it is) in advance. Say something like "I know you enjoy cooking for me, but I'm trying to lose weight and I need your support. When I come over, I want to be able to say 'No, thanks' to some dishes and for you to be okay with that." Be forgiving if they don't get it right away, to them, you may be perfect as is. Just react in a nonchalant way, just say "you know, I think this is all I really feel like today." Office Fat Traps: This saboteur isn't actually a person, per se, but an entire culture of diet traps. That 3 p.m. birthday cupcakes, the left over cake your co worker brings in on Monday. Use the office as a place to practice saying no. Dealing with your co workers is easier than dealing with your family or friends. "At work, every time you pass up a treat, you're strengthening your mental resistance muscle," Beck adds. Your Friends: Whether you know it or not, you and your girlfriends have a competitive streak when it comes to food. Sitting just below the surface of boyfriend talk, baby chats and general catching up, is keen observation. Patricia Pliner, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, says "In our studies, women, without being asked to keep track, could recount after a meal how much up to three other people at the table had eaten." Why do we do this? The amount other people eat allows us to decide how much we allow ourselves to eat and still be the 'healthiest' eater. In similar studies, men have no idea how much other people eat. We use food and our looks as a way of compensating for our insecurities. Pliner says that, "in a study, we paired up women to compete on a mental task, and those who thought they were losing chose the healthier entrée for lunch." It is a socially acceptable way for us to one up each other. So if you threaten a friend's position as the most virtuous eater, she might push back. She may make snide comments but just respond by explaining that you are trying to be healthier and then ask her about herself. You may have a friend who resists your changes because she's afraid she'll be left behind. You were the one she could count on for happy hour nachos and drinks after a long day but now you're making smarter choices and that makes her feel guilty about her poor ones. Make plans with her that don't involve food. Go shoe shopping or for a walk. Choose the lower calorie option of a coffee date. It will ease her mind and keep your diet on track. If you do over eat with family, friends or partner, try to remember that a slip up is no big deal. Treat yourself with kindness. Remind yourself that if you get back on track now, this slip up won't show on the scale. Stick with it. Look at any negativity coming your way as a sign you are doing something right.

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