More than 1/3 of adults in the United States are obese, and obesity is the number one leading cause of death in the United States. Many overweight Americans have tried to lose weight at some point, and they know it’s not an easy thing to do. Losing weight requires frequent exercise, a diet that’s drastically different from what we’re used to (fast food and junk), and dedication.
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Weight loss is challenging, and it doesn’t help when well-meaning friends or relatives say all the “wrong” things. Here are four things you shouldn’t say to someone who’s trying to lose weight – and what you should say instead.
You don’t need to lose weight – you look great.
While it’s nice to tell someone they look great, this comment assumes that the person is trying to lose weight solely for aesthetic reasons. They may have other reasons for wanting to lose weight. Maybe they are concerned about their health. Perhaps they have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or another weight-related condition. It’s possible that they can’t afford to buy new clothes and they want to lose some weight so they can fit into their old clothes.
Whatever their reason might be, telling someone that their weight loss goal is unnecessary is not supportive. Try saying something like this instead: “I think you look great now, but I understand that you are trying to be healthier and I support you.” Of course, if you are genuinely concerned that someone is underweight or may have an eating disorder, that is an entirely different situation.
You should try [insert name of fad diet here] – it worked for so and so!
Well, that’s great. Good for them. What’s right for one person isn’t always right for another. Well-meaning relatives have suggested that I try Weight Watchers or marathon running. Long-distance running bores me, and I’d be constantly hungry if I had to strictly limit my calories. Instead, I decided to adopt a vegan, plant-based diet. This is awesome for me because I don’t count calories and I always feel full after a meal. I am grateful to the friend who recommended veganism to me. Why? Because I asked her for weight loss advice. Unless someone specifically asks for advice, don’t give it.
You can’t eat at this restaurant or at this restaurant – where can you eat?
Yes, I know that trying to grab a meal with someone who eats a strict diet can be frustrating. One of my best friends has been on a vegan diet for years, and I have another close friend who has an allergy to gluten. Trying to find a restaurant that has something for everyone can be tough.
[callout title=” text=’Some lucky people are blessed with the ability to eat whatever they want, and somehow they still look slim and feel healthy.’ button_text=” button_link=”]
However, I also know that my friends are not trying to make things harder for others – they eat strict diets for health reasons that they do not have control over. So please try to be understanding when someone is trying to lose weight and they don’t want to grab McDonalds or Dominoes for dinner. Some lucky people are blessed with the ability to eat whatever they want, and somehow they still look slim and feel healthy. For those of us who aren’t so fortunate, we need to watch what we eat.
Come on – it’s a holiday!
The problem with this one is that there’s always some sort of holiday or celebration going on. For me, getting out of the mindset that junk food is a reward has been difficult. Instead of saying, “I’ve had a bad day – I deserve this pizza”, I’ve started changing my thoughts to “What I deserve is to treat my body well so that I can live a long, healthy life.”
Now that we’ve covered what not to say, what should you say instead?
I will not offer you any advice unless you ask me for it.
I know you’re trying to be healthier, and I will support you in that goal.