Weighty Issues: Why They’re Tough To Talk About

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?

It is often very hard for us to say to our friends or loved ones that they need to lose weight.

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.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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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.

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  1. Having been the recipient of many of these “Helpful” conversations all my life, I can say with some few exceptions that they are not helpful most of the time. I was/am always surrounded by thin people, and that had no effect on me. Fat people have a mirror, and have clothes and think of little else all day long besides their food struggles. While one or two of those conversations did make a difference, it’s never what made my long-term efforts start or stick. It IS very difficult for a spouse or family member to witness an addiction struggle and sometimes an intervention can make a difference. But the “I’m concerned for you” is also a smoke screen in our society for “you make me uncomfortable.” Ultimately in my 50’s I had bariatric surgery AND try to maintain mostly a Ketogenic diet. It’s all still a battle, but I’m on the more winning than losing side of it and I like your products. That said, making people into food police never works. Expressing your concern once or twice, with the full knowledge that the person in front of you isn’t an idiot (in most cases 😉 is understandable. I just wanted to say that being the most overweight in a society of extremely health and food conscious people is not what ever helped me.

  2. My daughter has an eating disorder, as do so many. Based on what I’ve learned from her (she’s 36 years old and a social worker who has worked with people dealing with various addictions), this is NOT a conversation to have. She would consider it a form of body shaming and not only offensive but potentially triggering.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Judy,

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I am deeply sorry to learn what you and your daughter are going through. I pray that she find enlightenment and that your love and concern for her never runs out. As a parent myself, I find that, despite our natural instinct to protect, there are times when we must trust our children to make the right decision. Give her space and time to make that realization. Make it a healthy day!

  3. This is a serious topic that I wrestle with about my son. I have tried and he said my love was conditional. I swore to myself to never mention it
    again. Now he and his wife are very heavy. I don’t know what else to do. Thank you for this post. It is So very important!

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