How to Help a Loved One Lose Weight Without Hurting Their Feelings

Jodi Davis

| 4 min read

Woman posing triumphantly
It’s not easy being the overweight one in the family. This is something I know firsthand due to my own 25 years of experience. When I was growing up in the 1970s, being overweight (also known as “fat”) wasn’t as common as it is today. Basically all my relatives were thin, including both my parents. So when they realized I needed to do something about my excess weight, they really didn’t have any idea of how to actually help me.

Good intentions can still hurt

One of my grandparents assumed that singing, ‘I don’t want her, you can have her, she’s too fat for me!’ was the one way to get me to lose weight successfully. At the age of twelve, I had yet to realize this was a line from a popular Polka song, so I assumed the unkind words to this song were made up just for me.
Did this particular tactic cause me to lose weight? No, it caused me to dislike myself even more and turn to food for comfort.
Like so many others out there who are struggling with their weight, I continued to listen to the numerous comments and snide remarks from others who I’m sure meant well.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard: ‘Just stop eating so much and it only makes sense that you’ll lose weight.’ Okay, easier said than done. If it was that simple, didn’t they realize I would have done that already? These comments didn’t create a solution, all they did was make me feel sad and depressed, and again, cause me to eat more.
Here are my tips for helping a loved one deal with their weight in a positive way.

Tell me something I don’t know

Let me start by saying that during my 25 years of being overweight, the last thing I needed was to be informed that I was overweight. So in order not to be hurtful, please keep in mind that a person who is overweight doesn’t need to be reminded of it daily, they know it already.

Save your advice

I personally did not like when a family member said: ‘You should …’ or ‘You need to do …’ All these words did was to make me extremely angry, even though I kept a smile on my face. I wasn’t ignorant just because I was overweight. I knew I needed to eat right. I knew I should exercise. I knew it all. Doing it was another thing.

Really believe in them

What helped me was a having a person (Melinda) who stated that she truly believed in me. She kindly told me that I could and would lose my weight and agreed to walk with me if I wanted her to. She didn’t act like a diet expert, she didn’t tell me about all the health issues my weight could create or criticize my size. Melinda was who I call my “encouraging friend.” She didn’t ask me questions about what I ate that day or if I’d exercised yet. She also didn’t ask how much weight I’d lost so far. Instead she was a friend and always that one person who believed in me, and I knew it.
If you are hoping to help a loved one lose weight, please try to simply be their “encouraging friend” … that one person who continues to let them know by telling them that you believe in them, always.
And please take the time to share this article with others since it helps when you know that you aren’t alone in your weight loss struggles. I understand because I’ve been there and that is the reason I’m here – I can help.
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Photo credit: Leo Patrizi

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