I have had multiple people ask me how they can best help and support their loved one when they are dealing with a weight issue. I would encourage you to show this article to your support persons or those close to you (to help them learn how to be supportive). One important thing is that your support people need to know that they are not the food police!
Remember that it is your loved one’s issue, not yours. Any change that your loved one is going to make must come from within. You cannot force the issue or control their behavior. If you try to force the issue or control their behavior, it will make things worse for them.
- If you don’t have something encouraging to say, don’t say anything at all.
- Making critical comments will not motivate them to change and is more likely to backfire. When they are doing well reward them. (NOT WITH FOOD!!!) Non-food rewards could be: caring for the children for an hour so they can have some alone time, a massage, manicure/pedicure, cook them a healthy meal, walk with them, go to a movie (no treats), etc.
- Quietly set a good example. Make healthy food choices yourself. Exercise. Get to bed at a decent hour. Do all this without broadcasting it, and the behavior may just catch on.
- Watch for triggers and try not to be one. Many things can trigger overeating: stress, boredom, loneliness, conflict, fatigue, celebrations and social gatherings. Gently ask them if certain situations make it more difficult for them to make healthy choices. Try to help them with these situations without being obvious.
- Don’t bring junk food into the house. If you want to eat junk food, eat it away from your house and your loved one. Don’t ask your loved one to buy junk food "just for you." While grocery shopping, buy appetizing items that work with your loved one’s healthy eating plan.
- Be happy when a healthy meal is put in front of you. For a loved one who’s trying to eat healthy food, it can be incredibly discouraging to have family complain about what they are being served. If you truly do not like it, recommend another healthy dish that you do like. If you do the cooking, make food that works with your loved one’s healthy eating plan.
- Grant reasonable requests for accommodations for a healthy lifestyle. This may be different in every situation. Maybe your loved one needs you to watch the children, so they can either go to the gym or have some alone time. Help them make a proper meal plan. Whatever their request, if you can reasonably give it to them, do it.
- Recognize how difficult this is for your loved one. Usually overweight or obesity is a combination of multiple different things that add up to your loved one’s difficulty in losing weight. Genetics, metabolic conditions, medications,stress and age can pack on the pounds.
- Accept your loved one the way they are. Tell your spouse what you love about them. Express gratitude for the things they do. Affirm their character. Point out what you love about their body.
- Pray for wisdom. Pray for your loved one, for your relationship and for wisdom for both of you.
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