How often have the following examples happened to you?

1) You’ve lost a lot of weight and suddenly a co-worker brings in donuts to the office.

2) Your husband brings home a box of your favorite chocolates to celebrate your weight loss.

3) Your mom bakes your favorite pie and tells you how great you look.

4) Your friend tells you not to lose any more weight because your face is looking quite gaunt.

5) A cousin, who hasn’t seen you for months, makes a big fuss over your weight loss in front of a big crowd at a party. After that you notice a drop in your motivation.

Believe it or not, the above examples are constantly taking place. Since the opening of my clinic back in 1988, I have found the area of diet sabotaging to be one of the most intriguing challenges a “dieter” has to face and a subject that caught me a little by surprise when I first began in the weight control field.

Diet Saboteurs” fall into 4 main categories: IGNORANCE, MEANNESS, GUILT and JEALOUSY. The examples in the first paragraph could be any or all of the four categories. Ignorance is a harsh word, but it simply means a lack of knowledge, awareness or understanding. You wouldn’t want to call your mom “ignorant” when she bakes you a pie, but she simply wants to show you how much she loves you and isn’t aware that a pie is not the treat you desire. People might say that you look gaunt because they have a picture of you with a round face. When that picture changes (your face gets thinner) they subconsciously might perceive it as a negative, when in fact your thinner face makes you look better and healthier (certainly not gaunt). Interestingly enough, these same people would notice someone’s face get rounder when they were gaining weight and probably comment on that as well.

Bringing in donuts could be a mean attempt to get you off your diet. It could also be an act of jealousy or be a result of guilt feelings (because they have been unable to control their weight, they think that if you eat a donut, this would make them feel better). A husband giving chocolates could be showing you his love, but he might lack the understanding that food treats are what you don’t desire at this time. The chocolates also could represent that he might feel threatened or jealous over your new looks, success, and new found attention (especially attention from other males).

On the opposite side of the fence, getting compliments could lead to a drop in motivation for various reasons, one simply being that we think that we’re okay now and don’t need to lose any more weight. Getting compliments in public could lead to one’s uneasiness and embarrassment and thus people giving compliments could unknowingly be diet saboteurs.

To combat diet saboteurs, first of all memorize the four categories (if you haven’t already). Learn to know why people around you are doing what they are doing and in what category they fall into. Realize that being mean, acting jealous or feeling guilty are their problems and don’t allow them to get the best of you. Write down polite, but firm responses that you might use next time a situation arises. Rehearse and practice them, so that the next time, you will be ready. Reassure mom that you know she loves you, but you feel great, your diet is going well and she can help you by letting you eat what is best for you. When one of the partners in a relationship loses weight it can change the dynamics of the partnership. A lot of understanding and reassurance may need to be given by both partners and a reminder to your spouse that flowers instead of chocolates would make a great gift.

It’s hard enough dealing with your own pressures to stay with your diet, let alone pressures from others. Nevertheless, it is a fact that diet saboteurs do exist. However, becoming more aware of people’s actions around us and working on ways to combat difficult situations, will help you make great strides in your weight control success.