When people come together and support each other, it’s just like the Beatles say, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Support lightens the load of whatever burden we may be carrying, from heavy objects to psychological stressors.
As discussed in my book, Why Diets Fail (2014), addiction research has shown that social ties are practically essential to recovery. Similarly, a recent study investigating the factors that promote or hinder weight loss post-bariatric surgery indicates that the most success is found in individuals with a social and emotional support network (Lecaros-Bravo, Cruzat-Mandich, Diaz-Castrillon, & Moore-Infante, 2015). A supportive family member, friend, or group of individuals can help you stay on track with your health and eating goals in a number of ways. However, you may find that not everyone in your life is going to be supportive of your new lifestyle and eating habits.
When someone is resistant to your new diet or lifestyle, it may be important to try to negotiate support, especially when that someone is a significant other, family member, or even a roommate. First, be open about your reasons for change and explain why this is important to you. When asking for support, try to pick something to focus on, and think of specific ways this person can be supportive. Set a time frame (e.g., one week, one month, etc.) and figure out how your friend can benefit from supporting you. Negotiating support in this way can be especially important when your change may impact someone else’s lifestyle. For example, you may find that your new diet is most effective if you eliminate breads and pastas from your household, but if your husband/wife/child/roommate likes to eat pasta or have sandwiches for lunch, you may be asking them to make a huge change too.
Although it may seem like a no brainer to offer someone support who is making a change for the better, there are many possible explanations as to why someone might not be supportive of your new diet and lifestyle. For example, your friend may be concerned that you are embarking on an unnecessary diet, she may have insecurities of her own, or she may simply not understand the science and purpose behind the diet. Regardless, explain to your friend why you want to do this diet and negotiate for support as you embark on this journey.
Some people still may not be willing to give support, and unfortunately others can even be rude and dismissive of your decisions. Keep in mind that you don’t need to justify yourself to anyone. The most important thing you can do is look to those for support who are open and willing to give you the encouragement you need. Who knows, your friends and family may even want to join you!
Avena, N. M., & Talbott, J.R. (2014). Why Diets Fail. New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.
Lecaros-Bravo, J., Cruzat-Mandich, C., Diaz-Castrillon, F., & Moore-Infante, C. (2015). [Bariatric surgery in adults: Variables that facilitate and hinder weight loss from patients perspective]. Nutricion Hospitalaria, 31(4), 1504-1512.