When someone in your life is in the process of losing weight should you draw attention to the weight loss and applaud the person and their efforts or should you de-emphasize it and avoid the discussion all together? Often your first reaction is to praise that person for all their hard work. But is hearing this praise helpful?
Many individuals in the process of losing weight do not like when people notice, announce or talk about their weight loss. They do not want to be praised, complimented or have any attention drawn to them. They want conversations to remain normal and talk about the usual things with friends and loved ones.
For many supporters that want to show their love and encouragement, this can be hard to understand. It maybe difficult to understand how someone might misinterpret your comments that had the best of intentions.
There are individuals that love to get positive comments and reinforcement about their weight loss progress. Not everyone is sensitive to words of encouragement, but just be aware that it is more common than you think to get a negative reaction.
Here are 5 things you should not say to an individual who is in the process of losing weight:
- “You probably do not want to eat that since you are dieting, right?” – A person who is in the process of losing weight might be having a cheat day and is planning on indulging a little. The last thing you want to do is create an increased food anxiety or make them feel guilt about splurging. Do not critique their food choices.
- “How much more do you plan to lose?” – This may make the individual assume that they could not possibly be happy with the way they are now. People are all different and we all have different weights in which we are comfortable at. No one should judge.
- “You look so much better!” – This is clearly not a helpful thing to say to someone. Avoid comparing their appearance from before and after. They are probably doing this over and over in their own head. If they want your opinion, they can always ask.
- “Why lose weight, you are just going to gain it back.” – This lack of confidence can be very discouraging. Even if it is meant as a joke, it can be disheartening.
- “You Look SO Good.” – People say this all the time with only the best of intentions. It can be interpreted otherwise. People often wonder what was so bad about them before. This statement can cause body images and could trigger an eating disorder.
In a perfect world, we would not talk about a person’s weight at all. You never know what a person is dealing with. Someone could be losing weight due to an illness or struggling with an eating disorder. People that you are trying to support can sometimes interpret compliments about their weight loss as an indicator that there was something wrong with them prior to the loss. Sometimes even when someone enjoys and appreciates hearing positive reinforcement, there is a chance of developing problematic eating behaviors. These compliments can become twisted and used as motivation for unhealthy behaviors such obsession or restriction.
If you notice someone’s weight loss, ask them how they are doing. Let them bring it up in conversation. Compliment them on how happy or confident they seem, or draw attention to one of their many strengths. Avoid conversations about weight or body image unless someone reaches out to you for support.
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