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What To Do When A Loved One Diets, Part 2

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Last week, we talked about how to approach a loved one who’s dieting or wanting to lose weight. Several fantastic bloggers shared their advice (thanks, guys!).

But I wanted to explore this topic further because I think it’s a common predicament to be in. Many people are engaged in a cycle of yo-yo dieting and body hate.

So when your loved one says they’re onto their fifth diet, or trying out Weight Watchers (again) or counting calories to lose weight, do we support them? Do we tell them what we really think about dieting? Or do we stay quiet?

I received some more valuable advice from Joy, of Joy is a Martha Beck Life Coach, an intuitive eating coach and even a Nia instructor. She’s also a very wise and wonderful person!

While Joy now subscribes to an “intuitive eating/health at every size mindset,” she used to be a Weight Watchers leader.

Like so many of us, she was deeply entrenched in the diet mentality. As she says, being in WW was “a huge part of my identity.”

In last week’s post, I mentioned that there are many times when I just want to shout from the rooftops that diets don’t work and they can demolish your relationship with food and yourself.

But when we yearn to preach to people, it might be less about them and more about us.

Joy says:

What I discovered was that whenever I was concerned about what people were going to think, and whenever I fell into a mindset of needing them to agree with me and be on the same page as me, I got a lot of push back from them. And that push back was just a sign to me that I wasn’t completely clean and clear about what I was doing – if I still needed their validation/agreement/stamp of approval, I wasn’t completely secure in my new path. So, when those needy thoughts and feelings came up, I got busy doing my own work – really getting 100% clear on what I believed.

She emphasizes the importance of focusing on yourself and your own choices. Because when we try to convert others to our beliefs, things can get “ugly.” She writes:

I found that when I rocked my new choices from a place of total confidence and authenticity, without being attached to what anyone else might think about it, I got zero push back from others. Seriously – zero. I would get questions from people – genuine curiosity – which I loved. But no one seemed to need me to support them in their diets any longer and no one questioned what I was doing. I am very clear that my only job is to take care of myself and shine my light. Period. It’s all about me. When I lose sight of that and start sinking my claws into other people’s choices, it gets ugly.

If you’re still on your own journey to intuitive eating, ditching the diet mentality or loving your body, and you’re not sure how to approach a friend or family member, Joy suggested some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you need to be supportive to your friends? Why?
  • Do you need your friends to support you? Why?
  • Can you absolutely know that your friends are upset with you? And so what if they are? What might be perfect about that?
  • Do you like these friends? Are they people you see in your life long-term?
  • Do you need them to change for you? Why?
  • Can you absolutely know that dieting is a terrible thing for your friend to be doing right now? (For me, I am very thankful for the role WW played in my life. It helped me hit rock bottom and see the truth. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Weight Watchers.)
  • What would it feel like to let go of what your friends think and focus on yourself? What fears come up when you imagine doing that?
  • What’s your job or your purpose in these relationships?

Finally, Joy likens ditching the diet mentality to a death while “becoming an intuitive eater is a birth.” She says:

“That’s the nature of transition – of forging a new identity. Death always always always means lots of shedding and letting go. Sometimes that means we lose relationships or the nature of those relationships changes dramatically. And that’s okay.”

What do you think about Joy’s advice? How would you approach a friend? Do you feel like you’re preaching to people when it comes to eating or body image?

What To Do When A Loved One Diets, Part 2

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). What To Do When A Loved One Diets, Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Mar 2011
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