Assisting a loved one who is overweight or obese

Assisting a loved one who is overweight or obese

Weight can be a very sensitive subject and throughout the ages of time, although ever changing, there is a strong societal belief of what the ideal male and female should look and be like.

This view is generally unrealistic and unobtainable for majority of people and is often not based on principles of health, but rather aesthetics. Each individual should have their own goals focused on health, happiness and comfort in their own skin.

Feeling comfortable in a society where there is shame placed on how much we weigh, whether it’s deemed too little or too much, can be difficult. However, having a supportive network of friends and family is the key to success.

How can you assist a loved one who is overweight or obese?

  1. Be informed about their weight loss plan– It is much easier to assist a loved one if you are well informed of their health plan and goals so that you can ensure you are not inadvertently derailing them.
  2. Be supportive– In all aspects of their life, not just regarding their weight. Ask how their job is going or how their home or life situation is.
  3. Encourage an overall healthy lifestyle not just focused on weight loss – Take an active role in helping your loved one have a healthy and happy mind as well. Get involved in activities they enjoy, whether it be an art class or yoga. Being happy in oneself can help ignite motivation tremendously.
  4. Don’t be a judge or the food police– Weight loss is a journey and it can be a long process. There may be times when your loved one is not always 100 per cent on track but they should not be made to feel afraid or guilty. They should feel confident in sharing their struggles with you, so you can provide encouragement.
  5. Celebrate the small goals, no matter how insignificantthey may seem – But be mindful to celebrate the big goals as well, by developing healthy incentives unrelated to food, such as a short weekend away, going to see a movie you both like or buying some new clothes.
  6. Do activities that align with their goals– Go for a walk, try a group exercise class or even a healthy cooking class.
  7. Take away temptations–Avoid bringing unhealthy foods into the home environment and prepare meals in advance so there is no reason to reach for a takeaway menu.
  8. Don’t say anything to your loved one that you wouldn’t want said to you– If you were trying to overcome a challenge think of the positive type of encouragement you would need.

Your support can be as simple as just showing you care and support your loved one as a person, not by their weight. Excess weight can often be related to other emotional triggers (low self-esteem, depression, social issues such as work, friends or family stresses and medical issues) and can be either the cause or the consequence. Be mindful of when your support may not be enough and suggest seeing a health professional for additional guidance.


The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and should be used as a guide only. This information does not replace or substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before any action is taken based on the content of this webpage.

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