When you have a spouse, child, sister, or other important person in your life who is overweight, you wonder what to do. Maybe you’ve tried starting a conversation about this topic and it didn’t go well. It might have even caused damage to the relationship.

It’s no wonder. Discussion of weight issues is sensitive and difficult.

For most of my life I was a compulsive overeater and binge eater, and I was 100 lbs overweight. For 10 years now I’ve been maintaining my weight loss. (Read my weight loss story here.) I understand just how difficult these conversations with loved ones can be.

Yet being overweight is serious. Ignoring it is not the answer either.

The First Step to Take to Talk to a Loved One About Weight

When your loved one is overweight, the first step is to check your heart.

Before any plans, agendas, or conversations, you need to get some things straight in your own mind and heart. Pray! Talk to God about this situation, more than once.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I concerned about my loved one’s weight? What are your reasons for concern for your loved one’s weight issues? If there are health concerns, this is valid. What exactly are the health concerns involved? Be honest with yourself if there is more going on, though. If this is your spouse, are you less attracted to him when he’s heavier? Are you embarrassed by her appearance? Has she started wearing sloppy clothing on a regular basis? Is he depressed?
  2. How is this affecting me? In what ways is your loved one’s weight directly affecting you? Do the two of you miss out on activities you used to enjoy together? Are you concerned that the two of you won’t be able to have a long life together because of health concerns?
  3. What will I do if he/she never loses weight? You are not responsible for anyone except yourself.** You can encourage and motivate, but at the end of the day, this is not your deal. So it’s time to face up to the reality that this situation might not change. How will you handle it if it doesn’t?
  4. In what ways am I willing to offer support? Before you blindly offer any and all types of support, make sure you are really serious. Don’t say you will do anything you can to be supportive, then sigh and complain when she asks you to watch the kids so she can go to the gym. Are you willing to rid the house of all junk food? Arrange for childcare? Pay for a weight loss program? Eat low fat dinners?

You probably find yourself humbled as you answer these questions honestly. Are you feeling the truth of the fact that you are somewhat judgmental and selfish? You are. We all are. Still, it’s better to be honest with yourself about your intentions than pretend you are going into this with only selfless reasons.

In the past, you might have started a conversation with a loved one about her weight, or perhaps made some passing remarks about what she was eating. Maybe you made what you thought were helpful suggestions.

Here’s the truth, friends. If those comments or conversations went over about as well as a lead balloon, the reason is that you were probably coming from a place of selfishness.

I’ve lost 100 lbs and you would think me of all people would be the most understanding of food and weight issues, and I still find myself falling into judgement and being selfish with my loved ones sometimes.

This doesn’t mean you need to say all of your thoughts out loud. In the next article I’ll lead you through tough conversations with loved ones about food and weight issues. For now, continue to be honest with yourself about YOU.

**One final, important note: If you are a parent, and the person who is overweight is your child, this is a very different conversation. I am not a doctor and am not offering medical advice. Always seek the advice of your health professional.

As the parent, it is your responsibility to care for the health of your child. If your child is overweight, this is a problem you need to work toward correcting. You bring the food into the house. You control your child’s schedule. I know this is tough, but NOW is the time. Stop making excuses. Get an appointment with your child’s doctor and set up a plan to work together as a team to head in the right direction to bring your child to a healthier place.

The First Step to Take to Talk to a Loved One About Weight|The Holy Mess

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