My client has been in remission, post weight loss, for about 4 years. His battle with weight was quite typical of most middle-aged men. The pounds kind of crept on, insidiously, while he considered himself still "twenties thin" in his mindset. Suddenly there was a protuberance preceding him into the room, a rather rotund belly, thanks to his love affair with all things carb. He was also hugely in denial, trying to convince me, his Health Coach, that his pants waist size was a size 36, when in fact it was a 38 (when he married it was a 34). Oh yes, those size 36 pants were stretched out and positioned below his gut, so in theory he was still fitting into them. In truth, all the new pants he bought were a size 38, and he simply refused to embrace that truth.
He finally dropped the extra 35 pounds he was carrying over about 8 months, when he adopted eating strategies outside his home, though his wife had been implementing healthy cooking inside the home, for 20 plus years. Yes, he was always offered a healthy breakfast (most days he skipped it) and a healthy dinner. So much of his weight gain occurred, thanks to the gluttonous lunches and conference food fests he was exposed to on a regular basis at work. He did play tennis once a week and rode his bike a few times a month, so we also increased his exercise frequency - aerobic and weight training - to a minimum of three times a week. All went well, till he lost the weight and had the momentary realization that for the rest of his life he would have to maintain some kind of energy balance. He would have to limit his carb consumption and be aware of how he positioned treats and sweets in a weekly dietary budget. That also meant trying to gracefully and graciously suggest to well-intentioned friends and family that, "he is not suffering....that he does not need a treat when he is wined and dined by them...that they do not have to worry about his deprivation." Funny thing....when some has diabetes or serious heart disease, then people tread cautiously with food preparation and usually ask what is appropriate to offer as a meal or snack, in terms of dietary restrictions. But take a person who has battled their food demons, successfully, and you have people assuming that when they come for a meal, it must have food rewards galore.
That is just unkind and in fact, downright cruel, as far as I am concerned. Why would you assume that it's your duty to somehow tempt someone? If they, as a mature adult, want a treat, trust me they will grab it. If they are truly happy with their accomplishment and their weight loss - and are quite capable of accessing treats or special meals when appropriate - why do you, as their friend or family member, feel an obligation to feed them the very foods they've worked so hard to control? So as a Health Coach, it occurred to me that this is really about you, because you somehow feel defined by either your cooking or your need to fix things or maybe its your need to break a person down a bit because their success somehow reflects on your own failure to conquer weight issues, or achieve some other challenging goal. If you can step back and embrace your own issues, then maybe the next time you invite my client or a friend or family member, who has really worked hard at weight loss, for lunch or dinner, you will feed them a simple, healthy, but still delicious meal. Then enjoy the social part of the experience just a bit more because that's why they came.
So here is my blunt recipe for success when it comes to entertaining a person who has successfully won the battle of the bulge:
- Ask them if they indeed have food preferences or restrictions
- Do not assume they want a healthy meal or a decadent meal- just ask
- Celebrate the joy of just having them over
- Do not force them to have a taste, or have dessert or suggest that you will be offended if they do not eat everything or anything. Don't make it about you or your culinary skills.
- Enjoy the friendship not the foodship
Published On: February 19, 2012