HUSBANDS: Help or Hindrance

Is your husband or other family members sabotaging your health goals?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard complaints from 4 very frustrated sisters. Let’s call them sister 1, 2, 3 (I know… I’m so creative).

Sister 1 – Feels that her husband is the at the root of her issues.

Sister  2  – Her family members make fun of her new eating habits and try to make her eat cakes and other foods.

Sister  3  – Her mother only stocks junk food in the house.

Sister  4 – Her husband does all the cooking and she eats it because he works so hard to prepare the food and she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. He also likes to spoil her with chocolates.

Can you identify with any of these scenarios?

Or perhaps you have a family saboteur in your own family?

Just how do you maintain healthy eating habits when someone else is responsible for the food that is brought in the house? Or when others are either consciously or subconsciously derailing you.

It may seem like a simple solution at the outset—just don’t eat, but the problem is a lot more complex. Here are just two parts of the multi-layered issue.

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Resisting Temptation

On any given day, most of us would have a hard time resisting our sugary or fatty foods, but the problem is even worse when the foods are in our own house. We may not go out and buy them, but once they end up in our cupboards, we feel powerless to resist. Throw in some emotions and the security and privacy of your own home, where no one else can see you, and you've got the perfect recipe for sabotage.

Family Dynamics

Only family knows you well enough to be able to grate on your last nerve. They can wreak havoc on our well-intentioned health goals. Emotional issues such as guilt, shame, people-pleasing, using food in a variety of ways such as to show love, to stuff feelings, to console, or to celebrate all make the issue very complex. Many people choose not to upset the delicate family 'balance' instead of confronting the offending family member.

Understand Why They Do This

For some husbands of family members, keeping you well-fed is simply how they show love. However, with many saboteurs, there are often deeper issues and dynamics at play. Recognize that they are often acting out of fear or insecurity; they are using food as a weapon to control you. They may be trying to sabotage you because they're afraid of who you will become when you achieve your goal weight. They might be afraid of the shifts that may take place in your relationship.

Also, here's what's called the 'crab mentality'. It goes like this, "If I can't have it, neither can you." It's a metaphor that describes the behavior of crabs. When there are many crabs in the bucket, if one tries to crawl up the side, the others will grab hold of it and pull it back down so that it will share the same fate as the rest of them. Unfortunately, there are family members who want you stuck just like they are. Why? Your success makes them look bad. No one likes to feel left behind. But at the end of the day, you are responsible for you and you alone and you can't worry about their fear of your success.

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Here are a few tips for dealing with your family that will help you keep your sanity and your waistline.

1. Accessorize your Meal -This tip is from my client whose husband prepares dinner every night. She says she prepares a fresh bowl of vegetables to add to his meals. Although he is not crazy about the idea, it fills her up on the healthier food so she does not overeat on the fattier foods that he prepares.

2. Be Impactful - One of my favorite lines is that you're either affecting people or being infected by them. You can affect him by bringing them into your world gradually. Invite them to exercise with you, go for a walk, or even begin to educate them on the benefits of healthier eating or the dangers of unhealthy eating. You can have just as much influence on them as they have on you so don't be afraid to walk in your own power.

3. Be consistent - People will often follow your example. If they see that you're sometimes committed and sometimes not, then they may take it to mean that you're not that serious about your health so they won't take your health that seriously either.

4. Be Bold - Sometimes you just have to say NO! It's difficult to say no to your family members, especially when they don't understand why this is so important to you. Be clear about what you will and will not eat.

5. Be Clear - Go one step farther and make a clear and concise list and post it on the fridge of acceptable foods, occasional foods, and foods that you will never eat. Once it's clear, then there can be no arguments about what you really meant.

At the end of the day sister, realize that no one can make you eat anything you don't want to. You will eventually get to a place where you will recognize that your health is  more important than hurting someone's feelings. It's not being insensitive, it's about loving and respecting yourself. Your actions or inactions may unnerve others, but realize that it's not because of anything you're doing. Your actions are making them uncomfortable (which might be a good thing in the long run) Give the situation to God, pray for them and keep walking in your truth. In the meantime, choose one of two of these tips and practice them.

Until Next Week,

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Ellen M.
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Ellen M.

While my husband is usually really supportive, sometimes he would make comments about me measuring or weighing my food or say well I wouldn’t do that. I would tell him this is what works for me. So 4 months and 42 pounds lighter, he now says whatever works for you! I think we have to be bold and just tell them in love how we feel about their comments and ask them for their support. I know my husband’s support has really helped me.

Teresa
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Teresa

I experience 1, 2, and 3 by my husband and close family. (With number 3, it isn’t my mom, but my husband). Good article.

Ellen M.
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Ellen M.

My husband is basically supportive, but he will occasionally make comments about me measuring or weighing my food or tell me well I would not do that. I tell him, that’s ok, but this is what works for me. 4 months and 42 pounds lighter later, the comments are less and less. Now he says you do what works for you.

Jaana C
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Jaana C

I’m sister #5 that is experiencing sabotage. Thank you Cathy for your insight and advice! Blessings.