What if you’re not the one trying to lose weight but rather your spouse or partner is trying to diet. How can you best support them without putting any wedges between you?
Trust me, I know this isn’t easy. My husband has been wanting to lose weight for years, and contrary to popular belief, living with a registered dietitian isn’t a slam-dunk for weight loss.
If you want to help your partner with their weight loss efforts, but aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas that have worked for us:
How to Help Your Partner Lose Weight
Learn to listen.
This is probably one of the hardest suggestions. So many of us like to give advice and find a way to quickly fix things for the people we love. Way too often we don’t stop and simply listen to what they have to say.
Sometimes your spouse may simply need to vent and unload about the weight loss obstacles they’re facing. They don’t need you to come up with fixes; most likely they already know what they need to do. Especially be careful of ticking off examples of what you think they could have done better unless they specifically ask for that advice. Listening without commentary may be hard, but it really is the most helpful.
This is an easy one if you’re responsible for food shopping in your home. It doesn’t require a whole big conversation with your spouse. By helping with the grocery shopping, you can help ensure that healthier foods simply make their way into your kitchen, taking up more of a center stage.
Now would not be the time to load up on ice cream or other sugary foods, especially if your spouse has a weakness for them. Or if food shopping is not your responsibility, perhaps for a while refrain from asking for your favorite cookies.
Also keep in mind your spouse’s likes and dislikes, as stocking up on yogurt for an anti-yogurt lover would not be helpful either. Remember healthy eating needs to be a family affair if it’s going to work.
Choose restaurants with healthier choices.
When you do dine out, try and choose restaurants that offer healthier fare. Not saying that the days of ordering your favorite cheeseburgers and fries and splitting your favorite dessert are over but perhaps for a while they are on hold.
Try to not be an enabler by suggesting a side of creamed spinach or fried zucchini; rather, suggest a sauteed or steamed vegetable instead. If your spouse is trying to avoid the bread basket, simply take one piece for yourself and allow the waiter to remove the basket. If your spouse asks for help deciding on a healthy option, chime in — but if they don’t, stay quiet.
Prepare more meals at home.
If possible, prepare more home-cooked meals, where choices and portions are easier to control than dining out. I suggest trying to start dinner with a salad, and serve a veggie with the meal.
Obviously, same as with the actual food shopping, you want to make sure that the meals served are foods liked by your spouse and not just healthier foods you wish they liked.
Don’t point out that they’re “dieting” and deliberately serve them a different meal, but rather try and make sure you plates look similar. Remember the entire family benefits from healthy eating.
If your spouse decides to start an exercise routine, become his cheerleader. If they only have free time on the weekends, encourage them to take advantage of it. Better yet, if you share the same interests, go together — perhaps a bike ride, hike, yoga or even a long walk.
Consider ways to incorporate more fitness opportunities, like walking home from dinner instead of taking a cab, walking the dog together or parking the car further away in the parking lot whenever possible.
Move the focus away from the scale.
Even though your spouse may be focused on the number to measure their success, you can help shift the focus a little. Instead of asking, ‘Have you lost anyone weight today?’ perhaps simply ask, ‘How are you feeling?’ Discussions around energy levels and sleep patterns may prove to be quite constructive.
If your spouse does get excited about the pounds dropping, for sure react in positive manner. Please never say, “Let’s hope you keep them off!” because that surely would not be helpful. And if the scale isn’t moving and they’re frustrated, just remember our number one tip: Simply listen.
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