Here’s a scenario: You notice that your best friend has been putting on weight. And yet, she’s still forking down the potato salad at the family picnic.
Do You Say Anything?
According to a British survey of over 2,000 people, most of us won’t. Although 59 percent of the people surveyed worry that a loved one’s large waistline would lead to serious health problems, nearly a third said fear of hurting another person’s feelings or provoking a bad reaction would nevertheless prevent them from saying, “You need to lose weight.”
The fat chat is particularly thorny for men. The survey found that men find it three times harder to confront their partners about being overweight compared with women. Not that women have it easy…
Almost a quarter of women also struggle to suggest that a friend should shed some pounds.1
Fat Friends, Heavier You
Let’s face it. There are just some subjects that are not discussed… Talking about weight ranks as high on the taboo list as money and politics.
But staying silent can affect your waistline too. Research has found that those who surround themselves with heavier people tend to get heavier themselves. And the converse is true as well — the thinner your friends are, the thinner you’ll be.2
This is why it’s so important that you are able to have these conversations… or be receptive if someone cares enough to have this conversation with you.
Why Is It So Hard?
Will you be in the dog house for days if you mention your wife’s pants look a tad tight? Count on it. Will your best friend become a sour puss if you look at her plate in disdain and comment, “You’re going to eat all that?” Probably.
But start the conversation in a better way and your relationship can survive. And even thrive.
How To Have The Weight Loss Conversation
Here are some pointers to boost your chances of a productive powwow:
- Begin with love. It sounds cheesy, but saying something like, “You’re important to me and I want you around for a long time,” can be a great, positive conversation starter.
- Find the “Why.” Focus on helping your loved one find their personal reason to change. After all, most of us are reluctant to reform a habit unless it’s important to us — regardless of what anyone around us says. Your goal should be to get talking about why change is important to your loved one . I’ve written previously about research that has clearly demonstrated people who understand their “why” are more effective at losing weight (and a host of other goals). Knowing and understanding this will help drive your loved one when things get tough (and they will).
- Talk it up. Listen closely for your loved one’s personal reason to change, then help them talk about it… out loud… often. The result? All that change talk fuels the motivation needed to shape healthy behaviors that lead to weight loss.
- Show, don’t tell. Since you’re on the road to healthy eating and exercising yourself, you can model healthy behavior. Offer to take your friend on a tour of your gym, cook healthy meals together, or meet for an early morning walk.
Starting the conversation may have an added bonus, especially for spouses. Research shows that losing weight has a “ripple” effect. In other words, if your spouse loses weight, you will too!3,4
This is very important stuff, and we want to help. Please reply back if you want to have this conversation, and still need help. A member of our RealCare team will get back to you with helpful tips.
Or use the comment section below and we can create a really interesting conversation.
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.
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1. Brits urged to discuss weighty issues [press release]. Québec, Canada: Canada: International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk (ICCR); .
2. Leahey TM, Gokee LaRose J, Fava JL, Wing RR. Social influences are associated with BMI and weight loss intentions in young adults. Obesity. 2011;19(6):1157-1162. PMID: 21164501.
3. Golan R, Schwarzfuchs D, Stampfer MJ, Shai I; DIRECT group. Halo effect of a weight-loss trial on spouses: the DIRECT-Spouse study. Public Health Nutr. 2010;13(4):544-549. PMID: 19706214.
4. Gorin AA, Wing RR, Fava JL, et al. Weight loss treatment influences untreated spouses and the home environment: evidence of a ripple effect. Int J Obes. 2008;32(11):1678-1684. PMID: 18762804.