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Registered Dietitians Offer Tips for Managing Loved Ones Who Might Sabotage Your Health Goals


Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802

While improving your health takes commitment and perseverance, the physical and emotional benefits can be enormously rewarding for an individual and inspiring to the people around him or her. But what do you do when a loved one insists that you indulge at the expense of your health goals?

It is a tale all too familiar to Jim White, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, who says diet sabotage is a common occurrence for many people who are trying to lose weight or improve their health.

“A client will start seeing results and suddenly his or her partner gets a little insecure,” says White. “For example, a spouse might say, ‘Stop losing weight. You look too skinny now,’ when in truth, they still have a good amount to lose for a healthy body mass index.” Friends who are adamant that everyone partake in unhealthy foods or habits might make comments such as, ‘Why don’t you just live a little?’

Fortunately, with the help of registered dietitians, plenty of saboteur situations that start out shaky can have happy endings, according to an article published in the spring 2011 issue of the association’s member magazine, ADA Times. The key is to understand why people who should be supportive may sabotage instead, and to develop strategies to manage a would-be saboteur.

White begins each new client relationship by asking about people in the support network and makes a point to discuss that, in addition to the many positive experiences that comes with improving health, there is a potential for negative reactions in some relationships.

“Registered dietitians are also life coaches in a way, building client confidence and both physical and emotional strength,” says White. “For typical threats to health goals, such as an unsupportive spouse or peer, we can offer suggestions to help them navigate through these challenges.”

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