Woman-eating-spaghetti“Honey, I can’t finish this cake all by myself. Help me out.”

“We never go out to dinner together anymore. Don’t you love me?”

If you are pursuing a bariatric diet and find that a loved one is undermining your efforts to drop pounds, you may be living with a diet saboteur. Although this person loves you unconditionally, they are, perhaps unconsciously, attempting to undermine the success of your diet.

The concept of loved ones attempting to limit us in negative ways can be upsetting. However, identifying if and how this is happening

can lead to both diet and relationship breakthroughs.

Unsure if your partner is really attempting to derail your diet? Consider the following statements:

  • Fear for your health: “You’re losing weight too fast!” or “You’re wasting away!”
  • Acting insulted: “I see. You’re too good for my home-baked bread.”
  • Ostracization: “This Italian restaurant won’t work with your diet. We’ll just see you afterward.”
  • Over-buying junk food.
  • Mocking your new way of life.
  • Cooking a big dinner when friends from your weight loss support group come over.
  • Downplaying the results of one bad decision: “One slice won’t kill you!”
  • Showing you negative statistics about weight loss: “You can work out all you want, but there’s no fighting metabolism” or “Didn’t you hear about that celebrity who had weight loss surgery? She gained it all back 2 years later.”
  • Psycho-analyzing you: “You’re less vivacious now that you’ve lost weight.”

What’s Really Going On

No one is perfect. Deep inside, most people look to take care of their own needs first, and when deep fears are triggered by another’s weight loss, unsavory behaviors can start to emerge.

Some partners may feel the need to control the relationship. Sabotaging your diet can be a way of maintaining the status quo.

Weight loss can seem threatening to an overweight partner who is not dieting, making her feel bad about her weight or pressured to take action in order to measure up.

A partner may fear that he will be abandoned when his mate becomes more attractive and “marketable” due to a trimmer physique. He fears looking foolish if others flirt with her.

Sometimes diet sabotage can come from a loving place. Parents often feel a responsibility to soothe the feelings of their children and get them to accept themselves at any size, even at the expense of their health.

Even friends and co-workers can be invested in reducing your diet’s effectiveness. In-office competition can lead to more passing of donuts at weekly meetings. Friends may fear being compared to you if you slim down, or that you will be eyed for a promotion first due to your successful weight loss.

What You Can Do About It

The most important action to take when you find your diet sabotaged by a loved one is to stop the behavior. Address your saboteur directly and ask him or her to support you in your healthy lifestyle. Emphasize to your partner that you are in the relationship because you love him and are not going anywhere. However, you need his help to be successful.

Addressing the issue with co-workers and friends requires similar assertiveness and tact. Tell them that you are still the same person but need help to make changes that stick. You can even invite a friend to be your gym buddy; this way, you can both work on your bodies and support each other. Explain specific ways to support you, including going for a walk instead of grabbing gelato or bringing healthy snacks when you host gatherings at your home.

In all cases, clear and open discussion is the best medicine. By both reassuring your loved one and explaining your needs, you may encounter less unconscious attacks on your healthy behaviors. Diet sabotage is common, but it need not undermine your healthy lifestyle or your relationships.