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Help Your Family to Help You
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Help Your Family to Help You

By Natalie Suttmoeller, RN BSN CCRN CBN


If you’re like most people, you realize that there are so many reasons to love your family. They’ll stand by you when you’re feeling down, help you get around town while your car is in the shop and make you giggle when you need a good laugh. So… why do you still feel like you are all alone when you are trying to lose weight? For instance, when you are sitting at the dinner table trying to make healthy food choices, why is it that your family looks at you like you just arrived from another planet? Maybe they see it as ‘your diet’ and not theirs. So, they wonder why they should have to ‘suffer’.


But the real question is: Does your family truly understand why you are trying to make better choices? Do they really get how carrying extra weight affects your overall health and vitality not only for you but also for them? In most families I can say with confidence that they do not. Most of us have spent a lifetime trying to cover up for the things that we were unable to do because of our weight. Take the time, and on more than one occasion, to point out how your weight has affected not only you, but also them.


Making the right food choices doesn’t have to be a solo sport and in reality, to be truly successful, it shouldn’t be. It is well documented that families that work together to achieve healthy lifestyles will generally experience more success for longer periods of time if they are all on the same page with their goals. Here are some tricks to getting your family engaged. This journey will be neither short, nor painless. When approaching your family, it pays to be well-prepared, and ready to persevere.


1. Do your homework. Research the market and create a realistic list of ideas which you think will work well in your family dynamic. It is hard to shout the word vegan if you live in a family of carnivores. 

2. Present your ideas to your family. Getting them to “buy in” generally works better when choices are available, and everyone gets to input on the issue at hand.

3. Walk the talk. Remember this is a family event and not a dictatorship. You cannot expect the ranks to follow your lead if you are not leading the charge. Stop rewarding yourself and your family with food.

4. Find a start date that works. If a ‘drop date’ for change is not likely to happen in your family, consider making a weekly calendar for changes. Think out of the box and encourage your family to do the same.

5. Say YES to those family outings. In the past you may have been ‘too tired’ or didn’t feel well when the children wanted to go to the park for extracurricular activities. You may still be tired but making that effort when you least want to will show them your true level of commitment to the plan.


Without a doubt, the sustainable changes you make will have positive impacts on your family’s health and yours. Be proud and celebrate your successes together.