Dieting to lose weight or to maintain that svelte figure can be challenging enough when you have personal control over each meal or snack opportunity. A strong partner who is “all in” with you on the same or similar plan can make all the difference in keeping you accountable and on track. Enter all the other players who either don’t share your dietary views, or contribute to your waistline despite their best intentions.
The most important of these is your significant other, spouse, partner or other live-in companion. Aside from you, this person exerts the greatest influence on your diet plans. If you work together and you are equally committed to the plan, life will be like magic and the path to health and happiness is much easier. If your partner becomes overweight for any reason, your chances of following that same path increase dramatically. It can simply be too difficult to reduce portion sizes and select healthier options when you are served up mountains of food.
In addition to the challenge of managing food intake, your partner influences you in other ways that can affect your health and your ability to maintain your diet. Stress and depression are examples of these. If your partner struggles with stress or depression continuously, this will create anxiety in you and your stress levels will increase as a result. If one partner is dealing with stress, find ways for both to engage in stress-relieving activities like exercise and intimacy.
The re-balancing of stress hormones will help you both stay focused on your diet and it will improve your relationship. Similarly, if your partner has difficulty sleeping or snores loudly, the constant movement and noise may disrupt your sleep and you will both become fatigued during the day. This fatigue affects your physical and mental performance and it can trigger food cravings.
Of course, other family members play a role as well. If you have children, you may choose to keep a variety of snack treats in the pantry as a reward for their good behavior. These snacks are not good representatives of your preferred diet options.
Yet, they are in front of you daily and you can’t help noticing how much your child relishes each bite. It all starts when you reach into the pantry to retrieve the snack, and if there is any preparation involved, you are sunk. You will not be able to resist absorbing a few hundred calories at snack time, for your children.
The list of Yo-Yo diet friends goes beyond the walls of your own kitchen. As you leave home and head off to work for the day, you encounter co-workers who invite you out to lunch at local restaurants. As they each order their meals fit for a mammoth, your choices begin to expand so the soup and salad option evolves into a double burger and fries by the time the waiter turns to you. Sharing a cheesecake for dessert adds a lot more calories; even though you may justify it by thinking that you’re only eating half of it.
Evenings and weekends are good opportunities to spend time with close friends, take in a ball game and enjoy each other’s friendship. If your friends are not equally committed to your dietary vision, you will make compromises at every meal. Watching sports on television will be a calorie-fest of snacks, beer and sodas.
Staying steadfast is entirely up to you. Having supporters makes the job easy and that is where your determination comes in. Partners, children, co-workers and close friends are all easily influenced by you, just as you are by them. Stick to your guns and make your choices and the reasons and benefits clear to them – without lecturing, of course – and you will slowly alter their behavior to the point where enough of them will become fans and supporters of your diet plan.
Decide to keep your food portions to normal human sizes, regardless of what others choose to do. Insist on that soup and salad lunch option at the restaurant. Keep children’s snacks out of sight and adjust them to healthier options over time. This may take a while, so the best time to start is now.