Just as your skirt starts to swing rather than stretch across your hips and your jeans no longer feel like a tourniquet, the weight-loss ‘saboteurs’ step into action. Amazingly, it’s those closest to you – your family and friends – who are most likely to thwart your weight-loss attempts.Do any of these situations seem familiar?
Your mother says, “Darling, you’re fading away. Have another piece of cake.”
Your husband brings home ice cream when he knows you’re trying to lose weight.
You are at a friend’s for dinner and they serve you an enormous slice of your favourite dessert with cream.
Your mates cajole you, “Come on, have another beer.”
You meet friends for coffee and they all order cake.
“Come on, a small piece won’t hurt you. You deserve a treat.”
Your children give you chocolates for your birthday.
You buy treats for the children and then eat them yourself.
Your children want to bake biscuits. Guess who eats the most?
You nibble while feeding the children, finish their leftovers, then eat dinner with your husband.
You’ve just put the kids to bed and slump into the lounge chair. Your husband brings out a cup of tea – with the biscuit tin.
You serve up one of your healthy low-fat meals and the teenagers complain, “Yuk, I’m not eating that rabbit food.”
Kids don’t intentionally sabotage your weight loss!
When I was single, my flatmate and I were obsessed with keeping our weights down so we lived on a spartan diet of tuna, spinach, pasta, low-fat smoothies and GSTs – gin with slimline tonic!
When I became a DINK (double income, no kids) my diet and waistline expanded to accommodate another’s tastes – more meat, more sweets, more wine before and during dinner. But we could still eat breakfast cereal and fruit for dinner if we felt like it.
Once children arrive the routine changes again. Now it’s breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and a ‘proper’ dinner. Full cream milk sits next to skim and it sure tastes better than the watery stuff. Kindy and school lunches, friends for morning tea – they all need something to nibble – usually made with sugar and butter. Then the leftovers sit around tempting you at your weakest moments – usually the evening. As your grocery bill sky-rockets with hungry teenagers, so do the temptations. They are constantly eating – and you are constantly shopping and cooking to keep up. It’s hard not to snack when you are surrounded by food!
Children don’t intentionally sabotage your weight-loss. But they do try to get more sweet stuff into the house any way they can. When your children ask if they can make biscuits or fudge, it’s so they can eat it. When your children give you chocolates, they are expecting you to share.
The bulges we hate may be the curves he loves!
Observations on how men and women perceive the ideal body shape note that women are a lot harder on themselves – and each other – than men. Men generally prefer a considerably curvier female shape than women think is ideal. It seems that the very bulges we hate may be the curves he loves! So while you are desperately trying to slim down your hips and thighs, he may be thinking you look fine. Subconsciously deciding that you are needlessly restricting your diet (and his) he brings home a special treat – gourmet ice cream!
“Don’t go changing”
Not many of us like change. We get comfortable where we are and with the people around us. When someone decides to change, it can be threatening. Will he or she be the same person if they lose all that weight? Will they succumb to the inevitable admiring glances and advances that their newly-svelte figure will attract?
Friends also often resist someone in their circle changing – they feel uncomfortable, the routine isn’t the same. It’s a sort of pack mentality. To make themselves feel better they try to pull back into conformity anyone trying to break out of the pack rules.
24 expert tips: Turn saboteurs into supporters
1. Diet is a four-letter word: don’t go on a diet. Don’t tell anyone that you are on a diet. You’ll only get caught in the DIG cycle – deprivation, indulgence, guilt. If you think you can’t have something, you will want it more. Allow yourself to eat everything, but less of it and less often.
2. Get to know your body and listen to it before listening to someone else. If you feel tired, have a headache or black rings round your eyes, perhaps your body is pleading for water – not that extra glass of wine or coffee. When you reach for that biscuit to go with tea or coffee, stop for a moment and check if it is really what your body feels like at that moment. Sometimes it is but other times you may only be eating out of habit, to be social or to treat sadness, tiredness, boredom or depression.
3. Give reasons that your friends will accept. Instead of saying “no” to cake because it’s fattening try, “No thanks, I’m full.” Instead of refusing that last beer because you are trying to lose weight, say “I’ve got to be up at 6am for a run/cycle/triathlon/ marathon” – whatever will impress them, and preferably is the truth!”
4. Wear jeans a size too small and mislead your friends into thinking you’ve recently put on weight.
5. Find a support person – someone to be accountable to. Changing any habit is easier with support than going it alone.
6. Reassure your mum that you are being sensible, that you are eating from the five food groups and have never felt better. Tell her that you would prefer fruit to cake because it has so many health benefits (not because it has fewer kilojoules). She surely can’t argue with her precious child wanting to be healthy!
7. Be attentive to your friends, family or partner. Don’t let them feel you’re drifting away from them and becoming a different person.
8. Compliment your mother on her cooking. Make sure the amount you eat is not the only way she has to measure your enjoyment.
9. When your birthday or other anniversary is imminent, announce that instead of chocolates you would like flowers, books, a massage, a beauty voucher or perhaps a holiday!
10. Pack a small healthy snack such as unsalted nuts and seeds as an emergency snack during a busy day.
11. Learn to share. Instead of having a whole dessert at a restaurant, say “I don’t think I could squeeze that in – but it is tempting. Will you share one with me?” You friend/partner may not even notice that they eat most of it themselves.
12. Don’t be afraid to share at cafés, too. The portions in a lot of cafés are way too big for many people. It’s most noticeable in muffins and cakes, but can include the panini’s and sandwiches as well. You might be tempted by someone saying “Let’s do it, it’s a treat”, but if you’re buying food at cafés quite often it’s not a treat – it’s food – and you don’t want to overdo it.
13. If someone offers to buy you an ice cream, choose the fruity, ice-based ones rather than the triple decker chocolate-covered super cone.
14. Instead of a dinner date, try a romantic walk along the beach or through the park, or meet for a game of tennis or at the ten-pin bowling ally.
Parties & Entertaining
15. When you get to the party, stand well away from the snack buffet and do more talking: less eating!
16. Use the five bite rule: if someone insists you try a food, take five bites – enough to enjoy it – then put it down.
17. Be helpful. Offer to pass around the food at a friend’s party. It’s hard to eat with your hands full, and it’s a great way to meet people too.
18. At the barbecue or smorgasbord, start with the salads and (non-starchy) veges and fill most of your plate with these lower kilojoule foods. Then go to the meat and carbs and select smaller portions of something really tasty. You don’t have to try everything.
19. Don’t let others serve your food. People like to be generous and will often unconsciously give you too much. Serve your own food so you control the portion size.
20. If someone comments that your plate isn’t very full, reply as heartily as you can manage “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be back for seconds”. Hopefully you can then avoid that person or your scintillating conversation will distract them enough not to notice you don’t do seconds.
21. At dinner, drink lots of water, eat slowly, put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls, chat lots so there is less time for eating. If your plate or glass is still quite full, they are less likely to persuade you to have seconds.
22. At home, brush your teeth after dinner. It won’t stop you eating but it helps.
23. Make salads your signature dish. Learn to make a variety of interesting salads that you and others can enjoy. We’re talking low-energy high-vegetable dishes here – not your standard Caesar salad.
24. Learn to cook with herbs and spices that add flavour to dishes, so your family are not yearning for foods that are flavoursome solely because of their high fat or sugar content.
Original article written by me (Cindy Williams). Reproduced with permission of Healthy Food Guide magazine www.healthyfood.co.nz