Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Support a Dieter - For Dummies

Your friend, your spouse, your roommate, your co-worker, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your son or daughter, your mother or father, your sister or brother... SOMEONE around you is dieting.  So how the heck do you deal with them?  Here are a few simple rules to follow to be supportive.

1. STOP TELLING THEM WHAT YOU ATE!  The dieter in your life is restricting their food to things that will nourish their body and help them reach their goal.  That does not mean that they stop getting tempted by pizza or cookies or ice cream.  And that CERTAINLY does not mean that they want to hear about it.  I often find myself in the situation of saying something like "Wow, I've been craving pizza for 3 days now!"
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "Dude, I had this pizza yesterday from this place in Little Italy! It was to die for!  Perfect soft crust and the cheese was super fresh and melted to perfection.  You've got to try it!" 
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: "Wow, good job at sticking to your plan.  That's great will power.  Hey did you see Magic Mike yet?"  Don't make them miss the food they want even more!  They're resisting temptation, it's not an easy thing to do.  Change the subject!  Help them take their mind off the thing they're craving!

2. STOP TELLING THEM THEY'VE LOST ENOUGH WEIGHT!  Your idea of how the dieter in your life should look may not be the same as the picture they have in mind.  It is THEIR goal, not yours. 
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "You're too skinny now!  Eat a cheeseburger!"
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY:  "You're making great progress!  How far are you from your goal?"  Acknowledge their progress in a positive way!

3. STOP CRITIQUING THEIR FOOD CHOICES!  When someone is on a diet and is trying to keep their food choices as healthy, lean, and low calorie as possible, they're going to get creative with some of the concoctions they come up with.  Just because you would not eat it, there's no reason to let them know that.
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY:  "That looks gross!  You're really going to eat that?!?!"
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: NOT A DAMN WORD!  I'm quite sure you wouldn't like them telling you that your food is fattening and how many calories and grams of fat it has.  So don't critique their food either.  When people seem me walking around the office with a big bowl of egg whites with mustard and cayenne pepper on it, I have been told "That looks horrible" on more than one occasion. Yeah... I like it and I still have to eat it, but it's a HELL of a lot less appetizing when someone else expresses how unapproving they are of my meal choice.

4. STOP TEMPTING THEM! This is the one that bugs me the most.  It's almost like people make it a game to try and break me.  You wouldn't hold a beer under a recovering alcoholic's nose, so don't hold a cookie under mine! 
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "Just have one cookie, it's not going to kill you.  I won't tell anyone."
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: "I'm sure you'll be able to enjoy one some other day."  Just because no one saw you eat the cookie doesn't mean you didn't consume the calories.  Remember, the strictness of one's diet doesn't last forever.  People eventually allow themselves the chance to enjoy treats and the foods they love.  Eating off plan makes you overcome with guilt, enjoying a treat when it's part of your plan makes it much more enjoyable.

5. STOP TELLING THEM HOW THEY'VE CHANGED!  They are STILL the same person, they have just decided to pursue a healthier, longer life.
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "You're not fun anymore!  Just come out and have a drink!"
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: "Let's make plans to hang out.  How does Sunday sound?"  Trust me, they still like you.  They still want to be a part of your life just as much as you want to be a part of theirs.  And that might mean they're not going bar hopping with you or out to dinner on any given night.  But don't cut them out of your life, they'll make time for you.   There are PLENTY of activities you can do that do not involve food or drinking.

I hope this has helped you find ways to deal with and support the dieter in your life.  Always exercise precaution, changes to your diet more often than not affect your mood.  Your dieter is likely to be more sensitive than usual.  Be kind, be supportive and encouraging, and be yourself!