Dealing with friends, co-workers, or family members who sabotage your efforts to lose weight or eat healthier.

Q. I need to lose about 40 pounds, and I would also like to lower my blood pressure and blood glucose levels with nutrition and lifestyle and not have to take medication. But I have two teenage sons and a husband who doesn’t want to eat differently.  I can’t get the junk food out of the house; even if I don’t buy it, it seems impossible to keep it out of the house. How do I get the whole family away from junk food and toward healthier choices? I know we would all benefit even if I am the only one looking to lose weight. Do you have any tips for overcoming resistance to a healthier lifestyle? Help!”

Environmental cues may have a much more significant impact on how much we eat than physiological hunger. Factors such as how much food is on the table or in the package, how big our plates are, and how much the people around us are eating all significantly affect how much we eat.

The first step is to let your significant other, family, or roommate know what you’re trying to do and why, and how their actions affect you. You can ask for their help and support—but you might not get it.  However, this cannot be your excuse to give up. 

Here are four strategies that can help you stick to your goals even without the support of those in your household.

Separate but equal If household members insist on bringing foods into the house that you find tempting, try to establish one cupboard where those foods will be stored; it helps if the “junk” cupboard can be out of the way. Clear out an easily accessible cupboard to stock with “approved” snacks and foods. Do the same thing with shelves in the fridge.

Establish No-Snack Zones Watching a movie, working on the computer, or spending time with your family may be challenging if the family room is a 24-hour snack buffet. Even if you can’t control what or when they eat, it helps if you can at least manage where they eat it. Confine food and snacks to the kitchen and dining room or some other space and reserve living areas for living.

Live and Let Live  You won’t lecture them about their eating habits, but they cannot make any comments about yours, either. No teasing about what you’re missing. No snarky comments. No shaming. No comments like “you’re perfect just the way you are.”  Sharing a meal is about sharing time tother; it doesn’t have to be what is on your plate. 

Find Your Support System Just online with us. Quest is here to support you and your health goals, whatever they may be. 

You could try to sell your boys and husband on the benefits of a healthy diet, but the fact is that trying to get other people to change when they don’t want to is usually a colossal waste of energy. Take the advice “Be the change you want to see in the world” (or, in this case, in your kitchen).  In other words, instead of nagging your loved ones about what they should and shouldn’t eat, simply model those healthy eating habits and enjoy the benefits.  Self-care is not selfish.

Christina C Wilson MS, CNS, LN


Author Coaches

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