Sticking to Your Diet In a Family of Enablers

If your family isn't as supportive of your diet as you'd like them to be, here are some ways to address the situation and reach your weight loss goals.

November 13, 2015
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Family is great. Except when it isn’t. And sometimes your family isn’t on your side when it comes to dieting and weight loss. In an ideal world, your family would be your biggest cheerleaders, standing by helping you make healthy choices and exercising with you, but the reality is occasionally very different. If this is your situation, let me help you out of this potential minefield by sharing my tips for dealing with family members who are less than helpful when it comes to your diet.

The role of family support in dieting is one that isn’t talked about a lot. I suppose that’s because most people assume your family has your back when it comes to improving your health. And in many cases that’s true. And in all cases, that’s the way it should be.

The sad truth is there are situations where your family isn’t your best support system when you are trying to lose weight. And, in some cases, they intentionally or unintentionally stand in your way.

Here’s a real life example. A person I’ll call Samantha had over 75 pounds to lose. She wanted to lose weight in the worst way but always failed at her diets. After years of struggling, she finally reached the point where she was making good progress.

At first her family was all for the weight loss. But as time went on, her family became less supportive. They said things like:

– “You don’t want mom’s apple pie? You are going to hurt her feelings.”

– “Samantha, why don’t you just have a bite of cake – a little won’t hurt you.”

– “Surely you can take the day off from going to the gym. One day doesn’t make a difference.”

– “Have an appetizer with us. You know you love fried cheese.”

– “Samantha, you are making us all feel guilty for eating so much. Can’t you lighten up sometimes?”

So what happened?

There are often several factors at play. Some are rooted in family traditions and others are due to insecurity or concern for your health.

Family members may feel threatened by your weight loss and not even realize it. As you change the way you eat and the types of activities you participate in, your family may wonder whether you will still relate to them in the same way you always have. To alleviate their concerns, whether voiced or not, sit down and have a frank discussion with them about why you are making these changes and ask if they have any concerns.

You may find it hard to broach the subject, but it is always better to get it out in the open rather than sweep pending issues under the rug.

Sometimes family members try to sabotage your diet. Prepare yourself for this possibility by deciding in advance to politely refuse offers of foods not on your weight loss plan. Over time, they will get the hint you are sticking to your plan and committed to losing weight.

If your gentle rebuffs don’t work, you may have to stand up for yourself and confront your family members in a kind and loving way. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, reassure them you still love them and let them know in a nice way that it is not okay for them to sabotage your diet.

Part of your weight loss journey is learning to deal with outside influences that tempt you or cause you to stumble. Unfortunately, handling unsupportive family members is sometimes part of that process. Use these moments as a way to cement your new lifestyle to yourself and show your family how to respect and appreciate you in a new way.

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