Beware! The No. 1 Diet Saboteur
If you're trying to lose weight, the one thing that is most likely to derail your best diet plan is...your family and close friends.
Don't believe it? Test it. Go on a diet. Lose a few pounds. Brag a little. And then see what happens. Chances are, you'll find you're the recipient of fattening food gifts. Your spouse may buy you a candy bar at the movies or your co-worker will offer you cookies when the afternoon munchies hit.
They aren't doing this to be mean or vindictive. They probably aren't even conscious of it. But what they are doing is sabotaging your weight loss success.
"I've seen it happen so many times to my weight loss patients that when they come in and confess they fell off the wagon, I'm ready with my ritual response: 'Who did this to you?'" Colleen Pierre, a registered dietician and an associate professor of aging, nutrition, and fitness at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., wrote in an article published by Rodale Press. "They're always shocked to think that someone else may have had a hand in their weight loss failure. Diet saboteurs. They're everywhere."
Pierre says that the problem can be defined in one word: Change. A diet creates big changes in anyone's life. These are changes welcomed by the dieter. But friends and family aren't in the same mode of change. Be aware that diet sabotage is not done purposefully and maliciously. It's unconscious.
You can fight the sabotage by understanding why it happens. Pierre offers these reasons:
--They feel guilty.
You're successfully losing weight. They're not. Giving you food is one way to get you back to "normal."
--They don't understand.
This is most common with people who have never had a weight problem and just don't realize that you can't go back to eating anything you want just because you lost a few pounds.
--They miss the old you.
And they miss the cookies you baked, the after-work "happy hours" spent with co-workers, or the restaurant dinners out with the spouse.
Pierre advises dieters to say no by exercising regularly to boost your positive mood, monitor your food intake, and write down everything you eat. "This will keep you honest, and it may also help you recognize the people and events that do you in," she recommends. "Then you can develop strategies to deal with them."
One such strategy is to get them on your side. Numerous studies have proven that when your social network of family and friends supports your diet, it has a positive influence on the results. New York City nutritionist Shira Isenberg, R.D. told syndicated health columnist Charles Stuart Platkin that family and friends bring "an increase in self-confidence by validating the individual's choice to lose weight, a reduction in overall stress, and increased attention to achieving the overall goal." And they do it without offering you a cookie.
Platkin advises you to actively create your own support network. That may mean joining organized meetings with others who are trying to lose weight, encouraging family and friends to eat healthier along with you, or even making new friends if the old ones keep giving you candy bars. Best of all, find a weight-loss buddy either in your hometown or online who will share the ups and downs of losing pounds with you.