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When A Loved One Diets Or Wants To Lose Weight

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Recently, an awesome Weightless reader raised a topic that I know many of you will be able to relate to.

She wondered what to do when a loved one chooses to diet or lose weight while continuously bashing themselves and their body. When they view dieting as their salvation.

What if you’ve developed a healthier relationship with food and your body, but your loved ones continue to yo-yo diet?

You know that dieting creates a path paved with pain and heartache.

So how do you still support your friend? What if they say that you’re not supporting them.

How can you be a good friend when you feel like what your friend is doing is unhealthy?

Then there’s the added layer of fat talk. Many women bond over talking about weight loss, calories, their huge hips and thighs and similar topics. (By the way, here are 10 ways to stop fat talk.)

What if that’s all your friend wants to discuss?

These are no doubt some tough questions. Because I wanted to get different perspectives (and I was pretty much stumped), I asked several of my friends who are also amazing bloggers.

While everyone said that there are no easy or clear answers, I think they offered valuable advice:

Christie from Nourishing Circle

  • Both friends can focus their “energy on making sure they understand each other’s position and the boundaries that will allow them to remain friends without this being an issue.”
  • Also, you might have to tell your loved one that you don’t “want to talk about food, dieting, weight loss, calories, etc., (and of course no fat talk!!).”

Ashley from Nourishing the Soul

  • It’s important to “remember that we are each on our own journeys and in different points on those journeys.” Intuitive eating may “still [be]a very foreign and seemingly dangerous concept to some.”
  • “We cannot change someone by criticizing or even looking down upon their choices. I think that if we want to stay in a relationship with that person, we have to meet them where they are at. That is very different, however, from cheerleading where they are at.”
  • Have an honest conversation with your friend.  Explain that you think “it’s wonderful that [your] friend is making steps to develop a healthier self, but that [you’re ]working in [your] own life on not focusing on appearance, weight, numbers, etc.” And tell her that you won’t be making comments about these topics.
  • What if your friend still brings this up? Ashley says to remind her gently that these topics are off-limits.
  • If your friend still keeps bringing these subjects up, “decide if it’s something [you] can accept about the friendship.”
  • If rare comments stir you up, “it might be important for [you] to do [your] own work around what that’s about.”

Karen from Before & After: A Real-Life Story

  • Like me, Karen struggles with wanting to preach to people. (I want to shout the cons of dieting from the rooftops!) But we know that preaching isn’t as powerful as role modeling. So she suggests being the change.
  • “…instead of viewing the situation as either/or, [you] could view it as both/and. Both friends are embarking on journeys with similar destinations and they’re choosing different paths. And that’s okay!”

Katie from Health for the Whole Self

  • “I have found that whenever I directly tell someone what I think they should do, they simply shut down and tune out everything I’m saying.”  That’s probably because, Katie says, “I’m trying to pull them to where I am rather than meeting them where they are. It just doesn’t work.”
  • “So I try (although it’s really, really difficult) to remember that I was there once too. I once thought that dieting would be my salvation, if I could just get it right. And really, I had to hit ‘bottom’ before I could be open to the message of intuitive eating and rejecting the diet mentality. I had to get to the point where the thought of another restrictive diet made me want to scream. For many people, the information won’t sink in until they’ve reached that point, so the best we can do to help is live according to our philosophies and demonstrate the relief and peace it can bring.”
  • Try planting the seed. “I may not mention intuitive eating once and suddenly my dieting friend is completely on-board. But who knows? Maybe a year from now the topic will come up again with someone else, and she will remember our conversation and now be open to the idea because of it. You just never know what could happen down the road, you know?”

How would you handle this? What do you do when a loved one is yo-yo dieting or wants to lose weight? Do you think that you should intervene and make your opinion known or stay quiet?

By the way, I also emailed with Joy from JoyTanksley.com, a good friend and fantastic blogger. She also had some great insight, which I’ll publish next week!

When A Loved One Diets Or Wants To Lose Weight


Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com. 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). When A Loved One Diets Or Wants To Lose Weight. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 17, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/03/when-a-loved-one-diets-or-wants-to-lose-weight/

 

Last updated: 8 Mar 2011
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