According to the World Health Organization, the obesity rate in the world has nearly tripled since 1975.
And as of 2016 there were more than 1.9 billion overweight adults in the world.
That’s a lot of people!
With so many people being overweight there is no doubt someone you know is struggling with their weight.
Dealing with weight issues is a serious challenge.
As your friend is navigating through this challenge they will need your support.
Here a 7 practical strategies that will help you provide the best possible support to those who need it.
Avoid Becoming Too Emotional
As a friend you no doubt care about the issue at hand.
However, you can’t allow yourself to become too drawn in to the hurt and pain your friend is feeling.
Doing so will only prevent you from providing the support that is truly needed.
Though it can be difficult, do your best to keep your feelings out of it.
Learn To Be a Good Listener
Instead of always trying to give advice, learn to just listen.
And most importantly, acknowledge their thoughts and feelings.
Chances are you won’t understand everything they are going through, but let them know its okay to feel how they feel.
Always maintain eye contact as this shows your friend you are actually listening.
Be attentive and engaged with the conversation.
This is tough because you don’t want to hurt your friends feelings.
But here’s the deal.
You can be honest without being mean or insensitive.
If your friend asks you a question about their weight, respond in a very genuine and supportive way.
Provide suggestions and try to guide them in the right direction.
Watch Your Responses
This sort of piggy backs on the previous tip.
While it is very important to be honest. You also want to watch your responses.
The goal is to avoid saying anything that can be easily misinterpreted by your friend.
Keep in mind most overweight people are very sensitive about their weight.
They know they have a weight problem but they don’t want to hear about it from you.
One thing you should never do is open a conversation by saying “I’m concerned about your weight”.
Doing so is a sure way to get them to completely shut down.
Keep in mind there is no need for an intervention.
Your job is to support your friend. Not try to force them to eat better and exercise.
If anything, focus on being an example instead of trying to tell them what to do.
To help you even more with how you respond, here are a few more things you should never say to a friend who is overweight.
“Have you ever thought about losing weight?”
“Let’s both start watching what we eat”
“I could stand to lose a few pounds.”
Every one of those statements can be taken the wrong way.
If you say you could stand to lose a few pounds, and it is blatantly obvious you are in great shape, your friend will find that offensive.
You should also avoid trying to remind your friend what they should and shouldn’t do.
They know they are on a diet and they know they need to eat healthy.
Let them make their own decisions and you just be there to provide support.
Be Physically Active With Them
Make it a point to be physically active with your friend as much as you can.
If they say they want to go walking one day, volunteer to join them.
If they want to go wall climbing, even if its not something you would normally do, do it anyway just to show support.
When you take advantage of these opportunities you are opening the door for your friend to move towards a healthier life without judgement.
Celebrate Even The Small Wins
If your friend says they lost 2 pounds, take the time to celebrate that accomplishment.
Let them know how proud of them you are.
While 2 pounds may not sound like much to you, it could mean the world to them.
Don’t just dismiss it as something small and insignificant.
Its a big deal and it should be treated as such.
Remember Your Own Failures and Disappointments
A great way to remain compassionate during this journey is to remind yourself of your own failures.
By pulling from your own prior challenges you will be able to better understand some of the emotions your friend is feeling.
Trying to be there for a friend who is struggling with their weight is not an easy task.
Especially if you have never personally dealt with your own weight issues.
The tips above will help you provide you friend with the support they need to make it through the journey.
Understand that the weight loss journey is a very long journey that is full of ups and downs.
Its literally an emotional roller coaster.
Your job is to simply be there for you friend.
Show them compassion and never judge them.
Be a shoulder to cry on, or just to lean on, when they need it.
Make the commitment to be there for the long haul as your friend will need you every step of the way.