Ask a Therapist: What if my spouse wants me to diet with them, but I don’t want to?

Question:

“What if my spouse wants me to go on a diet with him, but he is the one with a weight problem and I don’t feel the need to change my eating habits?”

First, I would encourage you to think about why your husband may want you to be on the diet with him. I am guessing it is likely because he may want support. It is difficult to change eating habits when there are tempting sugary or fatty foods in the house so it is often easier for a person to make lasting changes when the whole family agrees to make changes as well. That being said, it is not necessarily fair to ask you to adhere to a diet if you do not want to participate. I would suggest doing the following to further explore this issue with your husband.

  1. Set yourself up for success but imagining that his intentions for suggesting a shared diet are not a criticism of you.
  2. Start the conversation when you are both in a good place emotionally and can have time to talk about these types of issues (ie. neither of you are hungry, tired, or overwhelmed).
  3. Be gentle in your start up of this conversation by first praising him for wanting to make healthy changes.
  4. When it comes to talking about changing eating habits, either party can become protective of him or herself, as physical appearance and weight loss is often a sensitive subject so bringing it up in this way can help people to feel safer in discussing it further.
  5. Ask him what it would mean to him for you to join him in his lifestyle change. Listen to what he has to say and let yourself take some time to reflect on it before responding right away, even if you just think about it for a couple of minutes.
  6. Express your concerns about restricting your diet when you do not feel inclined to do so. Talk about what you would be giving up if you were to match his new eating lifestyle.
  7. Make compromises as a team
  8. To make successful healthy eating changes, people need support from their loved ones.
  9. Discuss what you feel you can give in terms of support.
  10. Be honest about where you can participate in the diet. For example, you may agree to eat healthy dinners together during the week but you may choose to indulge in treats and meals you enjoy when you aren’t eating together or during a time you can both feel okay about. You may also agree that certain foods will not be in the house so as not to add temptation for him.
  11. Be a cheerleader
  12. Whatever changes you decide to make, be his biggest cheerleader by encouraging and praising him, both when he experiences successes as well as setbacks.
  13. Knowing he has you in his corner will make changes easier to implement and maintain.
  14. Hearing your continued encouragement when he has setbacks will help him to continue moving forward with the desired changes he would like to make.

To find more tips from Anastasia Pollock go to lifestonecenter.com