Starting the conversation about weight is never easy. Whether you’re an individual affected by excess weight yourself, or you’re someone who’s concerned for your loved one’s health, it can be nerve racking to have that talk about how weight can impact our health.
So what can you do?
“Evaluate your relationship with the person you are about to talk with,” says Gary J. Viscio, Esq., an attorney who specializes in appeals for denials of obesity surgery, reimbursement and coverage, as well as obesity discrimination. “Ask yourself: Have you had such personal conversations before? If so, what was your loved one’s reaction? Can you be sure that you’re not going to come off as condescending or a know it all?”
Want to start the conversation, but not sure how? Here are five tips from Viscio for what to do when talking to a loved one about their weight and health:
1. Know the Boundaries
Only you know how far you can delve into someone’s personal life. Be extra sensitive, so that you can detect even the slightest feeling of your loved one being uncomfortable and stop the conversation.
2. Approach Them in a Truthful and Honest Way
We know losing weight is good for us, it’s just the past failures and frustration that get in our way. Let them know how much you care about them, and emphasize that this discussion has nothing to do with how they look. Remind them that they are living for you as well as themselves, and that you want them around as long as possible.
3. Provide Information, Not Diet Suggestions
Use the Internet or your local library to research the benefits of weight-loss and provide your loved one with the studies to back up your advice. The Obesity Action Coalition, the creators of the Your Weight Matters Campaign, has a variety of educational resources that you can use to get started on your research.
4. Be Supportive
If you’re going to go this far, then you should be prepared to go all the way. Don’t stop at “I’m here for you,” or, “if you need anything call me.” Go further. Attend those weight-loss meetings with them. Put yourself on the same nutrition and exercise program that they may go on, and remember to continue showing your support.
5. Never Suggest a Diet, or Even Surgery
Look into different options with them after you’ve broached the subject. If you suggest something and it doesn’t work, you most likely have set yourself up to be blamed for any failure. Let your loved one make their own decisions — along with their healthcare provider — while you provide a helping hand along the way.
Want to read more about talking to your loved ones about weight? CLICK HERE to read “Tell Me What I Already Know…How to Talk to a Loved One or Friend about their Obesity,” an article from Your Weight Matters Magazine.