Talking about Weight

Two smiling women together

Talking to a loved-one about their weight can often be difficult, intimidating and awkward. The most important thing to remember is to keep the conversation focused on HEALTH.

We often ask ourselves, “how do I approach a close friend or loved-one about their weight and health?” The answer – very thoughtfully and carefully.

First, keep in mind that when you are approaching this person, you’re about to tell them something they likely already know – they have an issue with weight and need to address it. Second, you’re about to discuss a very personal and private issue. And third, they’ve most likely tried to lose the weight and have not succeeded, leading to great frustration.

Before you say anything, it might not be a bad idea to take a mental note of some things, such as:

  • Have you had this personal conversation 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?

Ask yourself these questions and try to gauge how you will approach your loved-one or friend. It’s important to take all aspects of the conversation into consideration. For instance, you probably wouldn’t want to talk about someone’s weight over a meal or around other friends or family.

Before you approach your friend, imagine the situation if it were reversed. Would you appreciate a friend’s advice or would you find it intrusive or uncomfortable? Treat your friend as you would want to be treated and approach them in that way. Let them know that you are concerned and not judging them. Assure them that you will be as helpful as possible. Above all, remember that only your loved one or friend can make the final decision. No diet, exercise routine or program is going to help if they don’t choose to help themselves. And, that’s your goal… to get them to help themselves.

Here are some tips when talking to your loved-one or friend:

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.

Approach Them in a Truthful and Honest Way
Let them know how much you care about them. Emphasize that this discussion has nothing to do with how they look, but about their HEALTH. Remind them that they are living for you as well as themselves, and that you want them around as long as possible.

Provide Information…Not Diet Suggestions
Use the Internet or your library to research the benefits of weight-loss and provide your loved-one with information to help themselves. Invite them to visit this Web site to learn the steps to take to address their weight and talk to a healthcare professional.

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. Tell them that you have wanted to get in shape too or maybe you’ve been thinking about eating healthier as well. You may also offer to go with them to talk to their healthcare professional. This may help alleviate the intimidation of the healthcare professional’s office setting and help them feel not as alone.

Latino couple walking in park

Never Suggest a Diet
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. Encourage them to talk to their healthcare professional about their weight and work with them to develop a weight-loss program.

The key to talking to your loved one or friend about their weight is to focus on health. Chances are that your loved one or friend doesn’t really fully understand the health implications because of their weight. Learn together and take the journey together. A strong support system is key to helping your loved one.