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Asking family for help: Pitfalls

In rare cases, family members can react badly when their loved ones attempt a new health change, especially if they themselves have failed in the past.

This is demonstrated in many ways such as refusing to stop smoking in front of someone who is trying to quit, keeping tempting foods in the house, belittling efforts to increase activity and reminding the goal setter of past failures. There can be many reasons for this. Perhaps the family member feels that they will no longer be attractive to the goal setter once they have lost weight and stopped smoking. They could be jealous at their loved one’s success or fed up with what they regard as another yo-yo diet fad which disrupts their life.

Similarly, achieving success at making health changes can add strain to the family circle, especially if other family members may feel obliged to follow suit. Research on families and obesity reveals that children of overweight parents have an 80 percent chance of also being overweight. It makes good health sense, therefore, for one family member’s success to be replicated by the other members.

When trying to make changes within the home it’s worth remembering that you have devoted a lot of forethought to your change and your family may not be ready at the same time as you. Rather than pressuring others to follow your example, go back to the stages of change model and consider how beneficial the learning process is when making change. Give your loved ones time to see the benefits for themselves and find their own way to better health. Use everything you’ve learned in this blog to speed the process up but expect little in the early days.

This blog is not about marriage counselling so think communication first and foremost but ultimately remember that your personal health is more important than anything else. With good health it is easier to resolve most other problems.

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