Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You tell the person or people you live with that you’re trying to eat healthier. You might even say, “…and I’d appreciate your support.”
They continue to bring home (or cook/bake) the very things that tempt you. They crinkle the package where you can hear it. They eat it while you’re watching Netflix together.
Meanwhile, you resent their unhelpfulness. Or, you break down and join them — and resent your own lack of willpower.
Doesn’t work out so well, does it?
But don’t give up! (And please, please don’t let your people be an excuse for why you can’t change!)
Let’s try a different way. Here’s an outline you can use to write a script to ask for exactly what you need, and how to present it so you have a better chance of really being heard.
Plan your script
Before you speak up, start with good timing.
Plan a time when you’re not hungry, or harried, or already frustrated. Well-rested, if at all possible. Try to catch the other person in the same state.
When you talk, start with why.
Begin by telling them why this is so important to you now. If you’ve been down this road before, it’s possible they doubt your seriousness. But how can they know if you don’t make that clear? Here are a few things you could say…
“I know I’ve tried and failed before, but I really want this time to be different.”
“This time, I’m not just doing it so I can look thinner. I want to get healthy for good, so that….”
Finish that sentence with something that’s truly meaningful to you:
“I’ll be around to do life with you for a long time.”
“I don’t hurt so much every day.”
“I can avoid knee/hip/whatever surgery.”
“I don’t end up like my mom/dad.”
“I’ll be able to watch our grandkids grow up.”
Whatever that is, define it. It’s okay if you have one reason; it’s okay if you have more. Defining your big purpose is helpful for you. But it can also serve to make your person sit up and pay a little closer attention.
Set them at ease.
Maybe your spouse is ready and willing to get on board with you. Great — lucky you! But maybe they aren’t. If that’s the case…
One reason people may consciously or subconsciously work against you is because they suspect you’re trying to coerce them into following your rules. If you say clearly that you’re not pressuring them (you’re not, are you?), then this should take the defensiveness out of their sails. For example, “I’m not expecting or asking you to do what I do,” or “This is my thing; I’m not trying to make it yours.”
Also, even if you aren’t pressuring them, they may feel guilty anyway. I’m especially thinking of spouses here. Sometimes other people’s good behavior makes us uncomfortable with our own unhealthy behavior. While you’re not responsible for their feelings — it’s not your job to keep them from feeling guilty — you can at least extend them as much grace as possible, so as to not add any fuel to the fire. This might sound like, “You’re on your own food journey, and I respect that.”
Define what you’re asking for.
Here’s where you clearly spell out how you would like them to support you, and what’s not helpful.
Explain to your loved one clearly what foods are so addictive to you that you just can’t be around them right now, and how they can be supportive of you in keeping them away.
When I was first cutting out foods that were a problem for me, my daughter was still a high schooler living at home. We both loved a certain kind of junk food which once I started eating, I could. not. stop. Now, she was old enough I wasn’t going to force food rules on her, but I knew I couldn’t have it around me. So I told her: “If you want that, you need to buy it yourself, and keep it where I can’t hear, see, or smell it. I don’t want to see the package or hear it crinkling. I don’t want to hear you crunching it, I don’t want to smell it on your breath!”
Yes, you can ask for that! (But you might want to be a bit gentler than I was.)
You might need to say again that you’re not trying to impose your restrictions on them, you’re just trying to create an environment where you have a better chance of succeeding at this hard thing.
Also, remember that a soft answer turns away wrath. While you should be clear about what you want, you can still ask for it in a gentle way. (Which I did not do so well with my daughter.) “I would really appreciate you supporting me in this. Would you please?”
Be open for discussion.
Make it a conversation, not a speech. Be willing to consider their needs, too. Ask, “Do you have any concerns?” “How might this cause a problem for you? How can we work through that?”
Questions you may have
Do I need to actually write out the script?
You don’t have to do anything! But I think it would be very helpful — especially if you’re nervous about the conversation. Doing so will do two things for you: 1. It will help you clarify your why, and what it is you want. 2. It will help you be better prepared for the conversation, both mentally and verbally.
What if they still don’t help?
Let’s say you’ve given it a week or two, but you don’t see any improvement. You might need to have the conversation one more time. Start at the same place — choose a good time when everyone’s calm. Restate what you’re asking for: clearly, but without anger or finger pointing.
And if they still persist?
I’m sorry: I really am. This road is hard enough without that added pressure. Allow yourself to be sad about not getting what you’d hoped for, but don’t get stuck in resentment. Recognize you can’t change them, but you can change you.
And dear one: you need to decide that you’re going to do this for you and the purpose that matters to you, and that you’re not going to let anything or anyone stop you. Yes, it would be easier with them, but you can do this without them.
Don’t do it totally alone though! If you don’t have support at home, support outside home is going to be even more important. Find your community to encourage and inspire you! It might be a good friend who’s ready to walk the same road, it might be a local support group, an online community, a counselor or therapist, a friendly online trail guide 😉 or a combination.
People to follow – a list of bloggers and Instagrammers who can feed you ideas and encouragement