How to Be Supportive to Someone on a Diet

Is someone you know dieting? Do you want to help? Dieting is hard because eating is not an addiction like cigarette smoking or taking drugs; you can quit those cold turkey, but you'll die from not eating, so it comes down to making minor changes across the board. Knowing how to give your support could mean the difference between their success and failure.


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    Understand some of the reasons people stop dieting.
    • One reason is convenience. Food that is unhealthy is much easier to find, easier to prepare (if it needs to be prepared at all) and cheaper.
    • Sometimes it’s hard to determine what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy. Dieters must research the food they normally eat. They must decide if the food is first suitable and second what portion is acceptable. The latter is usually dependent on the former (the poison's in the dose, right?) and dieters must learn how to gauge and control their portions. This is a very subjective judgment to make on a daily basis.
    • Understand that dieting is expensive. Many people pay monthly fees for support groups, fitness centers, or special foods or drinks.
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    Don't tempt a person to stray from their diet.
    • When going out to eat, suggest restaurants with healthy menu options.
    • Alcohol is very high in calories. Instead of a night out drinking alcohol, try a night out dancing.
    • For holidays, avoid giving your friend presents that are associated with food.
    • Try to eat in and prepare healthy food together. Have healthy ingredients, drinks, and snacks on hand.
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    Be positive. Shaming only makes dieting harder; some people over-eat because of a lack of self esteem. Help them by pointing out the positive, instead of commenting on the negative.
    • If you need supportive suggestions, try, “It’s amazing how much more energy you seem to have since you started your new diet.” Or, “Wow your diet is already working, you look great today.”
    • Comments like, “You’re not fat” and "You don't need to diet" are unhelpful. Remember a diet should focus more on improving health than on losing weight.
    • It is important to appreciate your friend’s motivation and in order to understand the best way to be supportive. Gear your comments towards their aspiration. Are they trying to lose weight or body fat? Or are they dieting because of health concerns like diabetes? Do they want to perform better in sports? Do they want to look and feel younger?
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    Keep encouragement at a reasonable level. While you want to be positive and helpful, it's possible to go overboard. If you are too supportive you might accidentally put too much pressure on the dieter and impede their efforts to diet. It should be a casual, gradual lifestyle change, not a huge project that's do-or-die. The pressure itself may cause stress, which could derail the dieter's efforts.
    • Respect your friend’s privacy. Don't announce it around other people. Some people are embarrassed to be on a diet and don’t want everyone knowing.
    • If you notice the dieter is eating healthier but does not say anything to you about it, don't point it out. Wait until you are alone to ask them about it. Try to be casual and not make a big deal out of it.
    • When your friend is frustrated or upset, listen to what they are saying and be ready to offer advice when asked. Most of the time just listening to someone will help them work out a problem on their own and it will help your friend to reduce stress.
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    Be non-judgmental. Your friend does not need you to be the food police.
    • Be supportive, but don’t try to take control. A dieter needs to be in control of what they eat. If they go off of their diet it is their responsibility. The dieter is the one who is going to suffer the consequences.
    • It is normal to backslide some and have cheat meals here and there. Never make a big deal out of the dieter’s momentary loss of self control, you will only create stress. Remember, stress makes it harder for the dieter to regain control.
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    Offer to diet with them. If you need to lose a few pounds, you could form a support system. Or, if your friend is the competitive type, start a friendly competition (if you are trying to lose about the same amount of weight). Set weekly weight goals. The loser has to prepare a healthy meal for the two of you.


  • Realize that a diet is a lifestyle change and not a temporary condition.
  • Compliment the dieter often and genuinely.


  • Never attempt to force, argue, or persuade someone into dieting.
  • Pay attention to your dieting friend. If dieting goes too far, he or she may become unhealthy as a result. Lack of energy, mood swings and tiredness are the indicators of such.

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