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The role social relationships can play in our weight loss

The role social relationships can play in our weight loss

Traditional weight loss aids focused largely on the individual failure to acknowledge the role social relationships may be playing in the ability to lose weight.

Research carried out by American psychologists suggests that the support of friends and family, your social relationships, can play a key role in helping you lose weight.

The volume of information on weight loss can be confusing

Amy Gorin, associate professor of psychology and principal investigator at UConn’s Center for Health Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), found that people trying to lose weight are not failing because they don’t know how.

Gorin found that most dieters are fairly well versed in nutrition and exercise information but were just not using what they knew for a steady period of time.

She found that information can also get muddled by the sheer volume of it, and therefore be more difficult to abide by.

With obesity, the message is complex,” she says. “It’s not like smoking where the data clearly demonstrates that tobacco is bad for your health and the message is a simple ‘Don’t do it.’”

Speaking to UConn Today, Gorin says:

“On the contrary, we all need food in order to survive, so it’s a matter of sifting through all the conflicting information about what to eat and what not to eat, and how much of what type of exercise is good for you, and how to achieve your goals. But people don’t live in a vacuum, and establishing good eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight is difficult to do alone. In a real sense, we’re all in this together, and the support of family and friends is a key element to anyone’s success in leading a healthy lifestyle.”

The support of family and friends can make a real difference

In their report in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , Wing and Jeffrey found that dieters who sought the support of friends and family were more successful at the end of their four month treatment.

They were also more successful after their ten month check-up than those who were recruited alone.

In those recruited alone 76% completed treatment and 24% maintained their weight loss in full from months 4 to 10. Among those recruited with friends and given social support, 95% completed treatment and 66% maintained their weight loss in full.

Discuss your weight loss goals with friends and family

By discussing your weight loss goals with friends, room-mates and family, you are developing a support system. We recommend that you speak openly about how much reaching your goal weight means to you.

Always be aware that (diet) saboteurs exist. These are are usually family and friends who may be overweight and try to discourage you to continue with your diet as they may be envious of what you are achieving. A true friend will offer help and support to you.

It is a good idea to explain your eating plan, what you can and can’t eat and in what sized portions you can eat them. This means that you will not be tempted to overeat in an attempt to be “polite” by refusing food.

If you cook as a family, it might be wise to cook separately so that you are not eating what you shouldn’t be. However, if your old eating habits have caused you to become overweight, the same risk might remain for others in your family, so improving their eating habits by serving them your diet-approved meals may not be a bad thing.

Buddy-up for weight loss motivation

It is likely that you know somebody else trying to lose weight. Why not “buddy-up” with them for support, advice or companionship.

You may feel you can’t attend meetings with your Motivation adviser or make time for exercise because you can’t afford a babysitter. Why not take turns to babysit or car-pool with your buddy so that you can both get to your weekly appointments?

It could also be a great idea to go for walks or go for a cycle together. It can be a lot more enjoyable when you have company:

“For some people, it means hearing kind and supportive words; for others, it means having someone come by and literally drag them out of the house to do some exercise,” Joey Dweck, founder and CEO of DietBuddy.com says.

“As long as both buddies know what the other needs and expects, then they can be there for each other.”

At Motivation, we are dedicated to supporting you on your weight loss journey. Call us on1850 30 6000 to arrange to speak to one of our local dedicated advisers.


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