Diet Friend or Foe

Written by
Published in March 2007

( Birds of a feather flock together, and when it comes to women, this time-old adage certainly rings true. Women with similar ideas about careers, men, shoes or whatever bond together, offering each other support and camaraderie. But your friends' attitudes toward nutrition, diets, fitness or food may be keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals. Cluing into your friends', and ultimately your own, mind-set about health and diets will bring you one step closer to breaking the mold and making a change.

The friends:

  Tiffany the Talker

  • She constantly talks about losing weight, getting fit and eating right, but she doesn't actually do anything about it.

What to do: Everyone knows talk is cheap. The next time your friend starts chatting about food, fitness or dieting, don't feed her bogus passion. Instead, gear the conversation toward other things, shoes for example. Freeing yourself from her negative energy will enable you to focus on your own goals.

  Felicity the Fanatic

  • She knows precisely how many calories are in 20 peanuts and exactly how many minutes she'll have to spend on the treadmill to work off those calories. She does all the things Tiffany talks about doing, and then some.

What to do: Obsessing about your diet and weight can be just as dangerous as doing nothing at all. In fact, it can lead to life-threatening eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (starving to be thin) and bulimia nervosa (habitual binge eating and purging). If you think your friend is in danger, encourage her to seek help immediately and do not participate in your friend's dangerous behaviors in any way

  Carol the Clueless

  • Cheeseburgers, french fries and cheesecake. Nothing is off limits to Carol the Clueless. She has never seen the inside of a gym, and she doesn't think twice about smoking a cigarette.

What to do: If you don't see this friend very often, use this time with her as an opportunity for an occasional indulgence (sharing a sundae or splitting an order of fries, for example). Just be sure to plan the rest of your day accordingly. However, if you see this friend on a regular basis, you need to mentally prepare yourself to make thoughtful decisions for your health instead of impulsively following her unhealthy lead.

  Fanny the Fad Follower

  • From Atkins to the Zone to the Grapefruit Diet. If there's a fad diet being talked about, Fanny is following it.

What to do: Fad diets are only temporary solutions for lifelong problems. A carefully planned weight loss program requires consistently tackling both sides of the energy balance equation: calories in and calories out. Instead of jumping on the latest and greatest fad diet with your friend, seek the advice of a trained dietitian who can help you develop an eating plan you can follow for life.

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