What to do when the people closest to you try to derail your diet

Having a good support system in place when trying to change your diet is a key to your success, but sometimes there can be people in your life who hinder you from progressing. Therapist Angie Holstein has some tips to help you deal with people who may be sabotaging your diet.




There’s a stigma attached to being overweight. It’s also easy be stigmatized when you are working towards a weight loss. Long story short, being on a fitness journey can bring out the worst in others. You’re going to have friends, family and co-workers who cheer you on and support your goal but you’re also likely get some push back from people in your life too. Be prepared for criticism and teasing from people who want to throw you off your goal. 

There are some key tactics that you may want to consider to ensure that you don’t alienate friends and family while trying not to derail from your weight loss goal. These include:

  • Anticipating and making a plan.
  • Communicating with people in your life – being specific and direct
  • Being assertive (learn to say no, not now, later) without the spiraling into guilt.

Here are a couple common scenarios that people encounter when they are trying to lose weight:


Sabotagers are people who negatively impact your goals for reasons that are entirely about themselves. Sabotagers can take the form of friends, family, a partner, or even yourself.



Take a friend, for example. We share similar routines and habits with our friends because it’s often the reason why we liked them in the first place. For a friend, it can feel threatening when you begin altering your shared habits (in this case, making healthier choice), after all, change makes people uncomfortable. To help them cope with the difference, they may try to change you back.

The first couple outings with a friend like this one can be tough. You may, for example, get called out on what you’re ordering. In this instance, it is easy for your natural need for a sense of belonging to take over. You may impulsively rejoin in the habits of the group because it feels better emotionally to be part of them rather than be different from them. After all these are your close friends.

If you find yourself in this scenario, Angie suggests looking back to the strategies outlined above. Make a plan for the first couple outings with your friends– it will help adjust. Include checking in with yourself emotionally – how strong is your willpower at the moment? If you have built in self-appointed “cheat days” into your diet, perhaps you can correlate your friend dates with them to help ease off the pressure. Secondly, be sure to communicate with your friend. You might say “I’m trying to lose weight over the next few months so I’m coming out but not having dessert.” Even throw some health reason in there—they’ll understand in no time. Lastly, be assertive! At the beginning you may want to use a little “tried and true avoidance” until your willpower is stronger and you have a few weeks of good habits built up. Avoid social situations that involve food. Try suggesting a walk instead. There is nothing wrong with being honest and assertive when it comes to bettering your health.


The family member


You always want your family and your spouse to be on your side. This is why it can be especially hard when it’s your family members dissing out the negative comments and judgements. Like friends, families also have well ingrained habits and routines. When one member of the family is doing something different, the others can unknowingly hinder their progress by attempting to get them back to the usual routine. It is not unusual for families to show love through food—after all, it’s part of celebrations, loss, holidays. As a result, not partaking in the typical eating patterns of your family can upset them.

On the bright side, since you know your family members, you can anticipate their reactions and preare yourself accordingly. All the previous suggestions for friends apply here too. Let your family know about your goal by emphasizing your health goals. Make a plan for family events. Perhaps in your meal planning you can consider eating less before and after a family gathering in order to focus on enjoying time with your loved ones.

When it comes to your family, Angie wants you to be mindful of falling into thinking traps like “if he loved me he would support me.” Try a more balanced way of thinking, such as, “it’s hard for him to support me because he might be scared about how things may change with us.” Also, Angie notes that if you tend to be more on the side of caring what others think—you may want to consider having a weight loss group or a buddy system in place to counter the negativity.




Having a friend or family member sabotaging your progress is a terrible feeling, but when you sabotage yourself, it’s even worse! Many people have a habit of soothing sad feelings with food. The notion of “comfort food” is a thinking trap that you need to stay away from. Make a plan to ensure that you never negate your own progress.  Be assertive with your goals and communicate them in a way that is always visible to you. Make a vison board, for example!