Let’s pretend you have been struggling with your weight for a lot of your life. And let’s pretend you have tried many of the weight loss diets and programs out there. And let’s pretend you have lost weight lots of times, only, sadly, to regain it. And I hope that now, finally, you have come beyond solving the symptom and have come to believe in, accept, and deal with the real problem.
What do you think the others in your life think and feel about your situation? Do they think you haven’t enough willpower? Are they inconvenienced by being asked to provide you with special foods when you are following a plan? And then in the past, have they been frustrated to watch you overeat when you’re not following the plan? If it seems easy to them to eat only one serving of a sweet, do they wonder why you must have more?
Dealing with other people about your food, eating, and body weight can be difficult, painful and embarrassing. And even the nasty voice in your head (some call it ego, or their addiction, or monkey mind) can join in with insults. Change, your change, can be hard to handle and hard to cope with. And dealing with others about the topic can be truly challenging. Here are some suggestions.
First, think about your relationship to the person you are speaking with. If this person is a coworker, an acquaintance, not someone you care about or rely on, your response can be as simple as “thanks for sharing” or “Yes, I am at it again. What do you do for fun in your life?” or maybe, “Why do you ask?”
If the person is an employer, or someone you value but don’t know well, a simple, “Yes that’s true” might handle the question. If they ask what program you are following, you could say something like, “I am working with this really weird dietitian (or doctor or program) that says I have allergies to lots of foods and I need to be really careful till we sort it all out”. Answer questions, but don’t rehash. Say the truth; but you are not required to say the WHOLE truth. Be patient; trust is created by actions, not words. Change takes time for everyone. Allow the other a bit of space to accept the changes you are now making. If it is needed, provide reassurance about your commitment to the relationship. Be consistent and patient, allowing the other person time and space for his/her feelings
A caution here. I have had several situations in which the questioner was desperately looking for help for his/her food problems. Be sure to check that you are not missing a cry for help.
Then there are family members and others who have watched you struggle and suffer for years. Some of them may be very supportive; some may enjoy teasing or critical comments. There is no one way to handle these, but you need to do it with dignity and self-respect. Sometimes a blank stare may work, sometimes a quiet word. Sometimes you may need to leave the room. It hurts us to watch a family member suffer and we often don’t know what to do about it so we revert to the tried and familiar. Be honest but do not make a big production of your meal. Plan ahead and be certain that food you can eat will be available. Be prepared to remove yourself if you need to.
Then we come to the folk that Ann Katherine called Intimates. These are the people we can trust with our thoughts and feelings. We all need to have two to four – or maybe more – people in our lives whom it is safe to talk with about our feelings, our hurts, our joys, our goals. They are the people we can trust to not reveal to others things that might be used to hurt us. They are the ones who really listen, and help us move towards our goals. They may teach us, coach us, support us, and validate us. We may need to find folk with special skills to help us when we need it. Hold these people close to you. These are the precious ones. Hold them close and be grateful for their presence.
I deeply value your support and commitment and trust in me. You know who you are. Thank you for teaching me this.
Blessings to you,