After you’ve taken the decision to lose weight there may be people in your life who, for one reason or another, hold back your progress by encouraging you to overeat. Here are some tips for dealing with these so-called ‘feeders’ and ensuring that you remain on course with your weight loss.
If you look around your work or home environment, you may come across people who encourage you to ‘eat up’ or ‘stop dieting’, despite the fact that you’ve made up your mind to do it. From the colleague at work who encourages us to ‘just have one’, to the best friend who berates us for being vain and encourages us to gorge, there may be a host of ‘feeders’ or ‘food enablers’ who might just prefer us fat because it makes them feel better about themselves.
Dr Julia Budnik, a doctor with extensive clinical and teaching experience in so-called ‘food abuse’, has observed that the tactics feeders employ can be varied.
‘It can range from very mild: “You look lovely anyway”, “I love you as you are”, “one piece will do you no harm” to severe: “Stop this stupid dieting right NOW!”‘ she says.
Reasons for ‘feeder behaviour’
Dr Budnik says there are three key reasons for such ‘feeder’ behaviour.
1. The caring and nurturing instinct: this is particularly common in some mothers. Indeed, many parents feel that feeding their children big portions and encouraging them to finish everything on their plates is an act of parental love and care – but it certainly isn’t if the child ends up clinically obese.
2. Fear of change: this can make those around us feel insecure about losing the person they once knew. For instance, your partner may be afraid that the slimmer you will leave them for someone else. ‘Lots of people are scared of change, especially in their home environment that they want to see as secure and stable. That is why they will make attempts to feed their dieting partner or parent. Losing weight is also seen as as sign of independence and improving oneself. Those closest to us might be frightened by a fear of becoming not good enough for the new person,’ says Dr Budnik.
3. Fear of competition: this generally applies to friends and family of any weight. ‘From their point of view, the dieting person represents a threat. They start feeling worse about themselves and often use feeding tactics in response.’
What you can say
If you’re feeling pressurised to lapse or overeat, here are some verbal tactics designed to help you protect yourself:
FEEDER: I don’t want to go out to dinner with you if you’re not eating.
YOU: Do you know that the amount of time we’d actually spend eating is about 20 minutes? I’d enjoy your company for the entire evening.
FEEDER: Since you lost weight you’re looking older now.
YOU: I’ve been told that my heart is the heart of a woman 20 years older. I’ve been ageing internally at a dangerous rate.
FEEDER: You can’t diet today. It’s a Bank Holiday. Eat up.
YOU: I’ve worked out if I eat on every special occasion, including weekends and holidays, I will never lose weight.