Starting a conversation about your loved one’s weight
You are noticing your loved one is gaining weight or continuing bad habits that are seriously affecting their health. How do you tell them they need to lose weight? How do you ask them to take better care of their health?
It’s a delicate conversation to have with your loved one, but it could save their life.
Melissa Moody, licensed clinical social worker and behavioral weight management specialist with Norton Weight Management Services, says start by showing that your concerns come from a place of love.
“Speak with love and respect,” Moody said. “It’s important to focus on a person’s health and feelings, not their weight or food.”
Sarah Lush, R.N., nurse navigator with Norton Weight Management Services, says people often do not realize obesity goes beyond making poor food choices and not exercising. It’s a complex mix of psychological, genetic and/or environmental factors that may be contributing to weight gain.
Providing support and resources to help your loved one address the root cause of their weight gain is enough to show you’re concerned.
Lush suggests signing up for a low-cost cooking or exercise class that you can do together to show your support and motivate your loved one to make healthier choices. Online resources such as the CDC’s healthy weight tools offer a plethora of support material to help your loved one in their weight loss journey.
“Just because a loved one may not want to discuss their weight with you does not mean that it is not on their mind at all times,” Lush said.
If you decide to express your concerns, consider these tips:
Choose your words carefully
Someone’s weight can be a very sensitive subject, so it is important to tread lightly and choose your words carefully. Don’t judge or use shaming statements like, “I’m no longer attracted to you.”
Moody says this adds unnecessary stress, which is not motivating and can even trigger emotional eating.
Try statements like:
- “I am concerned about your health.”
- “I want you to be around for (fill in the blank).”
- “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
Don’t force it
Your intentions may be good; however, excessive direction or nagging can do more harm than good. Do not force your own diet or exercise habits or weight loss tips on someone else, but rather ask how you can help your loved one on their health journey.
Moody suggests instead of focusing on what the person should do to lose weight, model healthy behaviors and encourage healthy choices.
“Make sure meals are prepared in a healthy way or ask your loved one to join you on a walk or bicycle ride,” she said.
Retire the watch dog approach
Give your loved one space to make the right choices. Avoid constantly monitoring their food and exercise. Refrain from commenting on specific unhealthy behaviors.
“It’s important not to comment about your loved one’s behaviors,” Moody said. “Once you start complaining or being negative, it can lead to stress in the relationship, which may make the unhealthy behaviors even worse.”
Ultimately, it is up to your loved one to make changes in order to lose weight or become healthier. Offering support and empathy along their journey will encourage them to take the steps toward a healthier life.
Are you or a loved one ready to talk to a professional about weight loss? Norton Healthcare’s Medical Weight Management team can provide real solutions for a healthier life. For more information about Norton Weight Management Services or to sign up for a free information session, call (502) 629-1234.