(Closed) Is Obesity Too Personal To Talk About?

posted 8 years ago in Wellness
Post # 3
Member
7082 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2009

Have you heard about stages of change?  This allows you to assess where people are at with respect to the choices they make about any life change they may make (obesity, smoking, drinking etc).  When you determine where someone is at with respect to change, it helps you tailor how you talk about it.  As physicians we often use a technique called motivational interviewing to have that discussion.

In families, it’s a lot dicier and sometimes better to err on the side of saying less rather than saying more.

Hope this helps!

Post # 4
Member
1154 posts
Bumble bee

I don’t have any helpful advice but I do think it is important to remember that fat people know they are fat.  Obese people know they are obese.  They are also perfectly aware that doctors and society think it is very unhealthy and will kill them (I won’t get into whether or not this is true but it is the current medical consensus and is widely known).

So any conversation will have to be careful not to treat them as if they are unaware of their own bodies or how society views them.  I would also be careful to structure any conversation around helpful ideas and an aknowledgement that there are plenty of people who do all things they are doing and aren’t obese and that they aren’t bad people for sometimes eating pie but that their particular bodies migth need a certain approach to be healthy.

It is always a very sad and difficult situation when people you care about won’t take care of themselves. 

Post # 5
Member
97 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2009

I think you and your Fiance are leading best through example. A person is not going to change unless they really want to, whether it’s changing their eating habits/smoking/insert other habit here. (Even then change can be very difficult.) Reminding a person about their weight issues won’t help unless they want to do something about it.

If you do feel the need to bring up the topic, however, I’d approach it from the health angle rather than the weight angle. If you Fiance is really concerned about his parents’ health, he has the right to share that concern with them (in a loving manner, of course).

Post # 6
Member
56 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

I think what you are doing now is good – talking about how eating healthy has helped you and how.  But as soon as you tell other people to eat healthier and exercise they are just going to go on the defensive and probably do the opposite of what you say.  I think they’ll have to come around themselves, but it may help them if you continue to talk about how great you feel and how eating right and exercising has helped you!

Post # 7
Member
2392 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I think there’s so much prejudice disguised as concern around this issue that people are very quick to be defensive.  I mean, how many people will criticize perfect strangers without even knowing their habits or caring one whit about their actual health?  I see it all the time and I find it offensive (and it has nothing to do with me).

That said, I think the only time it’s appropriate to say something is when it’s someone where you really would be horribly upset if anything happened to them.  BUT anything you say has to be with the realization that they know they’re overweight and they know people give them crap about it.  I’d suggest reading about Health At Every Size, the idea that you can make positive healthy changes and it can be totally divorced from someone’s size or shape.  For one, there’s been studies suggesting it’s more effective than interventions aimed at weight loss, and for another it might give you ideas for how to couch your actual concern for your family’s health in a way that doesn’t sound like just another person criticizing them.

Post # 8
Member
2513 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

I agree with Ms.Editor that leading through example is probably your best bet. I gathered from your post that Future Mother-In-Law has already made some positive changes regarding her own health, and I’m guessing that she probably brings it up to Future Father-In-Law periodically as well. Unfortunately, from what you stated, Future Father-In-Law sounds like he very defensive about it and is not all that concerned about making changes. He is definately going to have to WANT to do it for himself before he will be open to heeding any advice or paying any attention at all. I think that’s really the mentality on anything. Unless someone WANTS to do it for themselves, they put their defenses up and that’s it. I’ll use smoking for an example. The entire universe is aware of the dangers, including smokers themselves, but unfortunately it is something that is extremely addictive & extremely pleasurable (or “relaxing” or whatever) and they get VERY defensive when you break out the “surgeon general” talk.

I’d say just continue to do what you do, but don’t put a whole lot of pressure on. They know they are unhealthy, and if they aren’t concerned about it there’s not a whole lot you can do. Just hope they open their eyes and make changes for themselves before a medical occurance forces them to.

Post # 10
Member
2513 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

Eep!

Ok, I just read your SECOND post and I must say… FMIL’s “changes” aren’t really healthy at all! I can definately see how you would be super-concerned, especially since they are like your own parents to you.

Hmmm.. Well, that definately puts a whole new angle on things. I still don’t know exactly how you can stage an “intervention in disguise” with them though, but it sounds like they definately need one! I’m surprised that Future Mother-In-Law isn’t more proactive about her health being a nurse and all!

Post # 11
Member
7082 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2009

I’m glad those links were useful to you Lily.  I think the trickiest part of using them is going to be how to discuss without being doctorly or in any way judgey.  They are already giving you in’s by discussing their frustrations, but maybe it is best if you and Fiance roleplay some really casual comments that address the particular stages that Future Mother-In-Law and Future Father-In-Law are at… I’d keep it really, really casual… and ideally Fiance would be taking the lead.

Post # 12
Member
3564 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

They sound a lot like my FI’s parents–like even if you took the literature and shoved it under their noses to show them that something they believe is wrong, they would just brush it off. VERY frustrating, especially when it pertains to their health and something that could be potentially life threatening.

Has your Fiance talked to them about it? Maybe they would listen more if he brought it up with them privately–they might be embarrassed in front of you? Also, are they open to trying new recipes for healthier versions of the foods they love? Maybe if they try lasagna with fat free cheese, or something like that, they’ll realize it’s not so bad (maybe don’t tell them it’s the light version til after they eat it!).

If FFIl has confided in you that it makes him unhappy that he’s gained this much weight, that says to me that he DOES want to change, but maybe just doesn’t know how to start–it can seem daunting. Good luck, and I really feel for you–it’s painful seeing people you love engage in unhealthy/dangerous behaviors.

Post # 14
Member
1154 posts
Bumble bee

Ouch.

It sounds like this is happening for three reasons.  Ignorance of the facts, a matter of taste, and being too busy to have time to devote to the issue.   I think the key issue you could help with is them eating things that are terrible for them, if your Future Mother-In-Law is exhausted when she gets home and has a million responsibilities there is just no way she will also find time to cook, so I would try to figure out foods they can keep around the house that will be good and easy snacks/dinner.  The hardest issue is taste, no one wants to eat something that tastes like sawdust and if they don’t like anything healthy… it’s hard.  Ignorance seems like it should be easy to fix but would actually be really diffificult – with these things if they don’t know diet soda is bad for you it’s probably at least partially because they don’t want to know.  You can try to mention things you’ve heard or read without connecting it to their eating habits.

Also, maybe you could do something like buy some soda with real sugar and bring it over because it tastes better (and though it’s not proven many people have found makes them drop weight because they aren’t consuming the corn suryp). 

If you do make suggestions I’d try to think out baby steps suggestions that don’t ask them to overhaul their lifestyles.  Not because they don’t need to but because that’s not something they will ever do unless they are ready to.

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