When “Just Eat Less” Isn’t Enough: Why Family Needs to Get Educated on Weight

We’ve all been there. A loved one is overweight, and the dinner table conversation becomes a chorus of “just eat less” and “exercise more.” While these might seem like helpful nudges, they often come from a place of ignorance rather than understanding. Here’s why family members need to ditch the outdated advice and become informed allies in a loved one’s health journey.

I’ve always been a big framed person and it hit me hard as I started approaching my teens. I went through the whole 9 yards of mocking phase- where people in our town, distant relatives and everybody in between made fun of my weight. NOT one person [ not my mom, or anyone else] was warm and caring. it was always some comment, esp around clothes and the way I sat, or stood [ right from when i was 6-7yrs old]. Things haven’t changed till date, which makes me sad when I think about all the times I’ve had people pass comments or give advice without knowing anything about what I was going through. As recently as 5yrs back, my aunt made a comment about my big arms – she said each one was the size of a giant pillar. It hurt, i bit my tongue and stayed quiet and walked away from the space.. None of the others in the room defended me or told her not to speak to me like that. She is in her 60s but nope, nothing stops people from passing comments..

Heck, I did not know why I was big made, just that i was and nothing I did helped me become thin. And it was in my 20s that I started reading up, understanding how our body works and why some of us are big and some aren’t. I have never been one to eat a lot, binge of chocolates or fatty stuff.. but well, there was family genes, metabolism and hormones which were all playing away inside me..  

Weight Gain is Complex: There’s a misconception that weight is purely a matter of calories in vs. calories out. Genetics, medications, stress, and even gut health can all play a role. Without understanding these factors, loved ones might push for unsustainable changes that lead to frustration and guilt.

Shame Doesn’t Motivate: Constant comments about portion sizes or exercise habits can be incredibly shaming. It fosters a negative self-image and makes healthy choices even harder. Focus on encouragement and celebrate small victories. People have always said “Oh we say that only to push you to go to the gym, only to make you eat less etc”. I distinctly remember an aunt telling my uncle who was visiting us to bring a harsh scrub the next time he visited. she said it was for me, to help remove the dark dirt that was on my neck. Back then, I just stayed silent. But then as I read, i understood dark neck, dark underarms, stubborn belly fat are all part of being insulin resistant and that requires a whole different kind of treatment to help not a scrub~ . 

Educate Yourself, together: Instead of offering unsolicited advice, suggest learning about healthy habits together. Explore reputable resources like the National Institutes of Health https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity or credible fitness blogs. Learning alongside your loved one shows support and creates a sense of teamwork.

Focus on Overall Health, Not Weight: Shift the conversation from weight loss to overall well-being. Encourage trying new healthy recipes, going for walks together, or even joining a fun activity class. Making healthy choices enjoyable is key to long-term success.

Remember, It’s Their Journey: Ultimately, the decision to make healthier choices belongs to your loved one. Offer support, not ultimatums. people have no idea what we heavy people go through on a daily basis- be it with food, exercise or dealing with other conditions that wreak havoc.. 

By becoming informed and approaching the situation with empathy, families can create a supportive environment that fosters lasting change. Remember, weight management is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s ditch the outdated advice and walk alongside our loved ones on their path to a healthier future.

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