Mind and Body

Sensitive Subject: Addressing Weight Loss With Loved Ones

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Chances are you know someone who needs to lose weight. According to the recent release of the Healthy People 2020 objectives, just 30.8 percent of persons aged 20 years and over were at a healthy weight in 2005 to 2008. In other words, nearly 60 percent of adults were overweight or obese during those years. The statistics aren’t getting any better for adults, and unfortunately the picture is just as grim for children and adolescents. So how do you approach your loved one about weight loss?

First Things First 

Talking to a loved one about their weight will never get easier — this is simply a testament to how much you care. It is normal to get nervous and feel awkward, but you have to stay focused. The more you can remind yourself that the sole reason you’re addressing their weight problem is for health-related reasons, the more confident you can be that you’re doing the right thing. This conversation, whether it is with your child, spouse, sibling, parent, or friend, must remain focused on how much you care and how important it is to you that they lead a happy, healthy life.

Come Prepared

You can start by checking out these Conversation Starters. Think through how the conversation will go, even jot down the main points to address. Once you bring it up, avoid nervous chatter. Try to let them do a fair amount of talking. What are their concerns? Are they ready to make this change? What are their barriers? And most importantly, how can you help?

Short and Sweet 

Keep the initial conversation brief. Plant the seed, let them mull it over, and create an action plan the second time around. If the first conversation turns into an intervention, your loved will feel singled out, embarrassed, and frustrated.

Tanya’s Tips:

• Be an active participant in the process. If you address their need for weight loss, then plan to play a role from start to finish.

• Be encouraging, not condescending. Be supportive, not overbearing.

• Focus on the positive. They will have good days and bad, even good weeks and bad. Help them focus on what they’ve done well and to avoid the “slippery slope”…just because they have one bad meal or one bad day, doesn’t mean they are completely off track. Keep them motivated!

• Encourage stress relief and emotional outlets. Be it a journal, dance class, a massage, or a night out with friends; make sure they have some fun in their lives. Mental health plays a huge role in successful weight loss.

• Give the cupboards a healthy makeover. Help surround your loved ones with healthier food choices and easy access to activity and exercise.

• Lend an ear. Weight loss isn’t easy for anyone and your loved one needs to know they can talk to you without being judged. Let them vent to you about giving in to the cupcake at work or the happy hour cocktail. Then, spin the vent session into something positive.

• Incentivize weight loss without food. Whether it’s new shoes, concert tickets, or hiring the babysitter on a Friday night, dangling the right carrot can help your loved one stay motivated.

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a best selling author and the creator of "The F-Factor Diet", an innovative nutritional program she has used for over a decade to provide thousands with the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, and improved health and well-being. In January 2011 Tanya launched the F-Factor food line with the largest natural foods company in the US, the Hain Celestial group. She is thrilled to be able to offer the highest fiber products on the market to date. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.