Is Your Family Making You Fat?

Featured Article, News and Advice, Weight Loss
on March 16, 2011
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Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.

QUESTION: I’ve been doing really well at exercising and eating right. But every once in a while, I’ll be at my sister’s and she decides to make fettuccini Alfredo for dinner! What should I do?—Rene

DEAR RENE:Sounds like you’re suspicious of your sister’s motives. You know her better than I do (obviously), but maybe you shouldn’t assume that she’s intentionally trying to throw you off track. It could be that fettuccini Alfredo is the only thing she can cook that she knows you like! Think about it: Do you two have a history of sibling rivalry? Did you ever, for instance, date one of her ex-boyfriends? Were you head cheerleader while she moped on the sidelines? Is there simmering resentment over the make of your car, the designer clothes in your closet, the diamonds dripping from your various appendages? (Sounds a bit like the plots for an entire season of “Gossip Girl”.)

If so, you may have more of a problem than what’s for dinner. If you’re sure Sis intends to inflict diet death-by-pasta, I would have a heart-to-heart with her. Avoid making accusations: Simply tell her how committed you are to getting healthy, how hard you’re trying to stick to your plan, and how much her support means to you. Say you’re having particular problems when you’re confronted with temptations, and you’ve found that it’s better for you to avoid certain trigger foods that really test your willpower. If she takes offense, assure her that you know it’s not intentional, but it’s a struggle for you to eat healthy at her house nonetheless.

If you know from experience that talking about it may do more harm than good, skip it. These strategies will help whether you face the issue head on, or not:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch on days you’re visiting your sister. Don’t starve yourself—get good, lean proteins, lots of veggies, whole grains. If you “save up” your calories for a splurge, you’re likely to really pig out on the pasta.
  • Call ahead to see if she has thoughts about the dinner menu so you’re not surprised. If Signore Alfredo is planning to make an appearance, offer to bring a salad or even grilled chicken or fish. That way, you could have a small side portion of the creamy stuff and fill the rest of your plate with healthier options.
  • If she’s non-committal, offer to bring some nice salmon fillets, or the ingredients for a new recipe you just can’t wait to try.
  • Don’t fret. A little Alfredo sauce “once in a while” can be a part of a healthy diet. Don’t let an occasional splurge derail your whole diet. Dust yourself off and start fresh the next day.