Why Your Friends Are Not Supportive of Your Weight Loss Journey


You probably know someone, likely a woman, who is trying to lose weight. Maybe it’s even you, entering the new year with great determination to make a significant change in your life. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you. Sticking to a diet or lifestyle change is not an easy task, as 92% of New Year’s resolutions end in failure.

The Sabotage from Friends and Family

We’ve all heard phrases like, “Oh come on, treat yourself,” or “If you’re not having dessert, neither will I,” or “You look fine the way you are.” These well-intentioned words, however, do not help. In fact, they’re forms of sabotage. Unless you’re showing signs of disordered eating or compulsive dieting, your weight loss efforts and reasons for dieting are nobody’s business but your own.

Lack of Support from Loved Ones

If you feel like your friends and even your family are trying to sabotage your weight loss journey, you’re not alone. A study conducted by Stanford University revealed that over 75% of women “never” or “rarely” receive support from friends or family when it comes to losing weight.

Reasons Behind the Sabotage

Why would people who care about you sabotage your difficult endeavor? There are various reasons, ranging from benign to pathological. Psychologists have found that publicly declaring your weight loss goal can be perceived as a threat by others. Additionally, the idea of “thin privilege” plays a role, particularly for women. Society tends to view slimmer individuals as more attractive, which can trigger competitiveness and feelings of inferiority in your eating companions.

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Insecurity and Social Pressure

When you choose a healthier option, such as a salad instead of pasta, those around you might feel compelled to follow suit in a competitive manner. This behavior, although unintentional, can lead to disordered eating. In some cases, friends may actively avoid or sabotage those who are dieting because they perceive them as “boring.” To maintain relationships and avoid social awkwardness, individuals trying to manage their weight often compromise their plans or create “cheat days” for social occasions. Unfortunately, cheat days increase the risk of binge eating, a key factor in weight gain.

The Unsettling Truth

Among all the reasons why your friends might sabotage your weight loss efforts, the most disheartening one is that they want to keep you overweight to make themselves feel better. This unsettling concept, known as the “DUFF” (designated ugly fat friend) theory, suggests that within a group, there is always one person perceived as less attractive. Elevating the attractiveness of the non-DUFFs leads to the reluctance of losing that perceived advantage.

Self-Sabotage and Overcoming Obstacles

While your friends may contribute to the sabotage, it’s important to acknowledge the role of self-sabotage as well. Avoiding triggers and situations that lead to stress-eating is essential. Additionally, sharing your ambitious goals publicly can backfire, as it diminishes motivation and effort. Incremental changes and setting realistic targets are more likely to result in successful weight loss.

The Importance of Support

Seeking support is crucial, but don’t expect it to come from your regular brunch companions. Joining a support group, whether in person or online, can significantly enhance your success in losing weight. It’s also beneficial to choose a select few loved ones to explain your goals explicitly and ask them to refrain from dissuading you. If you’re in a partnership, the support of your significant other plays a pivotal role in your journey.

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There’s no shame in asking for help or support on your weight loss journey. However, it’s crucial to approach it in the right way. Understand that your friends’ lack of support may stem from various reasons, and their actions should not deter you from achieving your goals. Focus on finding the support you need from individuals who genuinely care about your well-being and are willing to provide the necessary encouragement. Remember, your weight loss journey is ultimately about you and your health.

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