Published on June 29, 2018
Half the battle of weight loss is trying to stay on track, and it doesn’t help if your loved ones aren’t being as supportive as they should be.
Does your spouse bring you a huge box of chocolates every Valentine’s Day?
Does your mother-in-law shove home-baked cookies and cakes or other goodies in your face every time you see her, and won’t take “no” for an answer?
Does a skinny friend regularly invite you to super-fattening lunch dates?
Whichever of these scenarios apply, the result is pretty much the same. While their intentions may be all good (or not overtly, purposely bad), the results can be all bad for the dieter trying to stick to a healthy eating plan.
In most cases, tempting a dieter with food or treats they are trying hard to avoid is really an unconscious act on the part of the non-dieter. Still, when it happens, it can make sticking to your resolve a lot more difficult.
Here are 5 strategies to help keep you from falling off the weight loss wagon, even when you’re surrounded by non-dieting friends and loved ones.
Candidly. Tell them getting leaner and healthier means a lot to you.
Folks who don’t have issues with food frequently don’t realize the level of temptation experienced by people who do. They haven’t been riding your train of thought, and they don’t always know about all the agonizing that’s been going on in your head. So it’s up to you to make your feelings known.
You have to let your spouse or others in the house know that having all that type of food in plain sight breaks down your willpower, making it harder for you to stick to your meal plan.
Let them know it has nothing to do with being weak-willed. They need to understand that no one has an unending supply of willpower — and no matter how strong you are, you just can’t stare fattening foods in the face every day without your willpower breaking down.
In my opinion, the best approach is to directly ask your loved ones not to give you food as gifts — and, more importantly, to eat any calorie-laden food they enjoy themselves when you aren’t around to see (or smell) it.
Even if your loved ones agree to eat their fattening foods and treats when you’re not around, sometimes just knowing they are within your reach is enough to derail your diet. When this is the case, ask them to keep it in a cabinet where you don’t normally go for your foods, for example, or if you have a second refrigerator in the basement, family room or garage, keep the tempting foods there.
If it’s out of sight, and if it’s harder for you to get to the tempting food you’ll be less tempted to eat it.
When you’re rubbing elbows with a band of diet saboteurs, getting through the main course of dinner is usually not all that difficult. However, that can change when dessert time rolls around. When family members trot out the apple pie a la mode, cheesecake or fudgey chocolate brownies, it can leave you feeling depressed, deprived and very tempted.
And, it can be even worse if you are the one who has to prepare these desserts. You can certainly feel a little down when you spend the time making the foods that you can’t eat.
The solution is to give yourself a treat of your own by preparing a less-caloric dessert that captures some of the essence of what your family members are wolfing down.
For example, if everyone loves cheesecake, fix up some low-fat ricotta cheese with low-calorie sweetener and strawberries or blueberries to capture the taste without the calories. If it’s apple pie you’ve got to look at, mix applesauce with cinnamon and some low-calorie whipped topping to help nip temptation in the bud.
When you’re creative in finding foods that capture the smell and the taste of the tempting treats without the calories, you’ll often find that watching others eat the more fattening, caloric goodies won’t be so hard.
While traditional “diet” foods may not sound appealing to your partner or family, you can often make the foods that everyone craves in a more healthful and calorie-conscious way. This not only benefits you, but everyone you share meals with.
The trick is to learn the art of ingredient substitution.
Use un-flavored, no-fat yogurt in place of mayonnaise in coleslaw or salad dressing. Always use skim milk or 1-2% milk instead of whole milk. Make lasagna with low-fat cheese instead of whole milk-cheese.
If you make the changes gradually over a few weeks’ time, the chances are your family won’t even notice the difference.
Creating a low-calorie shopping list will also help.
If you get your family used to baked chips instead of fried chips, popcorn instead of cheese doodles, diet soda instead of regular soda, you will be helping everyone — and if you are tempted to snack, you’ll be controlling at least some of the calories and fat.
So, now, you might be wondering, But what if you’re not the one cooking the meals or doing the shopping?
Anytime you’re served high-calorie foods, eat a little of the most calorie-dense dishes (like lasagna or pizza), and fill the rest of your plate with salad and vegetables. Be sure to skip the high-calorie accoutrements like garlic bread or gravy. The same strategy works when your best friend insists on taking you to lunch at Calorie City.
If you have to be at a restaurant in which you had no input as to the selection of that restaurant, and if there are only high-calorie foods on the menu, ask your friend to split an entree with you so at least you’re eating less. And insist that next time, you get to pick the restaurant. Then choose one where you know you can order something healthy.
For some, seeing and smelling forbidden foods can be the ultimate seduction. For others, it matters not so much what their partners eat as what they say.
This is especially true when a loved one hands over that box of chocolates while saying things like, “I like you plump” or, “You’re sexier when you’re heavy” or “There’s more of you to love.” As we all know, words matter. Something many overweight people share in common is low self-esteem, and when you already believe you’re undesirable, hearing that losing weight will make you even more undesirable can make dieting very difficult.
What should you do if this happens? First, try to get to the bottom of why your partner feels this way. You may find it’s really their fears and not their desires they’re expressing.
When one partner begins to lose weight and improve their appearance, the other may feel threatened or scared that this new attractive person won’t want them anymore.
By encouraging the dieter to remain overweight, the partner can exert a form of control — or at least ensure that the one with the “new” body is less likely to stray.
To get around it, lovingly reassure your partner that your weight loss goals are driven by health, not vanity; that you are scared of the serious health risks associated with being overweight; and that sticking to your diet and losing weight is one way to ensure that you’ll be around longer so that you can both share a better future.
If, however, a partner, family member, or good friend appears to be deliberately subverting your weight loss plans, and talking it out doesn’t help . . . if it’s a relationship worth saving, don’t hesitate to reach out to a licensed clinical social worker or psychologist for guidance. Though it doesn’t happen too often, sometimes, one person’s need to subvert another person’s success is a sign of a sadistic personality on the saboteur’s part, with problems that are likely to be evident in other areas of the relationship as well. A mental health professional will help you sort through the issues to see what you don’t want to see.