Someday, I hope to be able to have balance and be able to enjoy food, but be smart in my eating. I have a feeling, though, that it's going to be a struggle for the rest of my life. I've just got to take it one day at a time. And some of those days have to include yummy desserts.
I've mentioned the show "My 600 Pound Life" on TLC before. I was watching the "Where They Are Now" episode last night and the host asked each of them about support. It made me think about the role of my family and friends. I can see that being the friends or family of someone quite overweight is a tricky place to be. There is having acceptance for who your loved one is, big or small. There is wanting the best for that person and their happiness - the two of which might be in conflict. There is a fine line between not approving of that person's choices and being critical and negative. There is also wanting to keep that person happy (or in other words, keep the peace), and sometimes enabling the unhealthy behavior. There has to be a way to be supportive without supporting the habit. Unfortunately, we all still have to eat - we just can't stop eating. But there are definitely better choices that we can make. And while we each are responsible for our choices, those that love us can help.
If you love someone who is eating themselves into a hole (or too big for the hole, as the case may be), there is, in my opinion, something wrong - either medically or emotionally. There is a difference between being lazy and gaining a little weight and seriously packing on the pounds. Here are some things that I have thought of:
- Talking about it can go a long way, but just a warning, it can be taken wrongly. Be as gentle as you can, but be honest. Your loved one may not be ready to talk the first time you bring it up. But keep talking. Seek medical help when necessary.
- If you buy the food, don't support the habit. We can't keep potato chips in our house anymore, keeping those "trigger" foods around is just dangerous. In fact, cooking differently may be necessary. My sister and her husband cook a meal and then may eat the leftovers for a day or two. That is really smart cooking. But when I have a lot of dinner leftovers, I have a hard time keeping my servings to just one. If I make just enough for my family, I cannot overeat.
- Don't use food as a reward. That is hard. There are always celebrations and food is usually part of those. I recently, after Boy #2's Well-Child-Visit (and vaccinations), took him for ice-cream. What message does that send? When we are hurt, we reach for the ice-cream. Is that what I want my child to learn? What could I have done differently to soothe his hurt?
I'd love to hear your thoughts about how to be supportive without criticizing. I'd love some ideas how to teach my children healthy attitudes about food and eating. I don't want them to inherit my bad ideology. Tell me what's worked - or not - for you. Have a good week, my friends.