“Hey buddy, it’s my birthday today! You must have one more piece of this yummy chocolate cake!”

“I have made your favourite gajar ka halwa with so much love, Have only 1 bowl!”

Do these situations sound familiar? Yes, all of us go through such situations in life! Ideally, our friends and family should support us in our efforts to lose weight. Yet, there are a few people in our life called ‘the food pushers’ who deliberately try and disrupt our efforts to lose weight. Weight loss saboteurs negatively impact the self esteem and efforts of those who need to lose weight. Let us look at the most common types of saboteurs and tips on how to deal with them:

The threatened spouse:

Your spouse may be unsettled at the thought of you changing and quite often, the actions of the troubled partner can actively or passively sabotage the whole process for the would-be weight reducer.

Tip: If your partner feels threatened, try to do new non food-related activities together, so they feel they’re still an important part of your life.

The non-realise:

This person just doesn’t understand and doesn’t appreciate how important the weight-loss journey is for you and doesn’t understand what it feels like to be heavier than you want to be.

Tip: Communicate your needs and goals. Share how you feel about wanting to get fitter and tell them to join you in your plans to get fitter.

The self-struggler:

It is difficult to make changes and if your diet saboteur also has weight issues, he or she might be a ‘self struggler’. Such people feel anxious that while you’re making good-health changes, they’re not. This might lead to feelings of stress, guilt, frustration or fear in both of you.

Tip: Try to encourage the self-struggler to make small changes for his or her own health, with positive enthusiasm.

The miss-you-mate:

Does your friend feel sad that you’re no longer a snacking partner? Friends might resent the whole get-healthy process if it increases your attractiveness and brings about healthy lifestyles changes.

Tip: You can continue to enjoy time with your miss-you-mate, but focus more on active non food-related activities, such as a walk.

The pusher:

Whether this is your mother, partner, or friends, the pusher equates food with love. Do not put up with having food pushed on you.

Tip: Politely and very sweetly explain your goals and also encourage the serving of lighter alternatives, smaller portions and pile up lots of salad and vegetables onto your plate first. Practice some courteous ways to prevent overindulging if you intend to spend time with a pusher.

Some other general tips for dealing with food saboteurs:

  • When offered second helpings too many times, make a request for the food to be wrapped up and take it home. You can always tell the cook you want to be able to enjoy the food later or that it is so good that you want to share it with someone else at home. Do not eat it later. There is no peer pressure when you are alone!
  • Do not discuss the subject of dieting and weight loss. Don’t let the food saboteurs know your diet plan.
  • Confront the food saboteurs and let them know you won’t be discussing your diet with them and you would like them to stop any behaviour that is getting in your way.
  • Ignore their efforts – don’t pay attention to them when they try to stop your progress.
  • Sad, but true – in some cases, a food pusher may be hoping you will fail at weight loss. They may be uncomfortable with your weight loss because of their own weight issues. They might dislike eating ‘bad’ food without you, or they could be jealous or threatened by the attention you may be getting. Whatever the cause, it’s important that you are assertive but not aggressive (which will only worsen the situation) when you say “no”. Practice being assertive in similar situations, or even while looking into the mirror. This will help you be stronger when the real thing happens – it’s worth it!
  • Make small, less noticeable changes instead of obvious ones. It will help you ease into weight loss and avoid unwanted attention. For example, at the family dinner, use a salad plate, when you go through the buffet. Chances are that no one will notice your little change and you will be consuming less food.
  • Directly ask the food saboteurs not to give you food as gifts and to eat high calorie foods when you aren’t around to see, hear and smell it or to eat high calorie foods outside the home.
  • When the food saboteurs offer you high calorie foods, you can also make the easy excuse that you are fasting (for religious purposes)!
  • In case you have to attend a party, eat dinner at home and then go for the party. While you are at the party, keep your plate full, to avoid glares from others and then quietly keep your plate away on the side, after some time.

You have the right to make your health your top priority. Remember, no one but you have control of your own behaviour, so don’t let pressures from anyone else sway you from your weight loss efforts.