Your intentions are good and your heart is in the right place, but that doesn’t make it any easier to tell someone you love they need to lose weight. As tough as the conversation may be, it’s one worth starting. Here, some advice to help you find the right words:
Focus on their health, not weight. Instead of talking about the circumstances that you think led to your friend putting on extra pounds (such as snacking too much at night or never exercising), frame the discussion around your concern about her overall health. Make sure she knows you love her the way she is, but you’re worried about her blood pressure, for example, or that you want her to have a better quality of life.
Be positive. Stress the benefits of eating healthy foods and losing weight; it’s a more effective message than warning against the harms of unhealthy behaviors, according to research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. For example: Try telling your husband he’ll live longer if he’s a healthy weight, versus saying he’ll die sooner if he’s obese. Or focus on the benefits of choosing broccoli, not the harms of eating French fries.
Don’t be a food cop. Even if you have lost weight yourself, hold back from telling loved ones what they need to do to reach their goals, and most definitely don’t criticize their food choices. You’re not there to judge; nor should you monitor their diet or exercise. Instead, be compassionate and cheer on what they are doing right.
Offer support. What encourages one person may turn off another, so ask your friend how you can help in that works best for them. Maybe they want to test some new recipes with you or brainstorm healthier menus; maybe they would like to start walking more, and would love an exercise buddy. Your support may also offer accountability, which can be a strong motivation for your loved one to stick to their weight-loss goals.