Jedi Mind Tricks: How to Get Loved Ones to Lose Weight

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03.31.13 Darya and Kevin
Darya Pino Rose, PhD, and her dad, who transformed himself after years of resistance.

“Families are like fudge: mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
– Anonymous

“Language is a means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.”
– Mark Amidon

Losing fat yourself is one thing. Readers of this blog have lost 100-200 pounds without too much trouble.

Getting your mom or dad to take you seriously? To stop eating white bread or drinking 64-ounce sodas? That can seem impossible.

Loved ones — whether family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, or otherwise — can be sensitive. The people who need help most often won’t accept it, especially from those closest to them.

So what to do?

This post gives a real-world example from Darya Pino Rose, PhD. I’ve known and followed Darya for years. Her PhD is in neuroscience from USCF, and she champions a whole-food-based approach to nutrition that avoids pills and powders. This combination produces fascinating results.

The below story, from her new book Foodist, shows exactly how she transformed her dad’s health without butting heads with him… and how you can do the same for your loved ones.

Do you have any tricks that have worked with your family or friends? Please share in the comments!

Note: For the purposes of this post, a “foodist” is someone who uses real food and real science to lose weight permanently.

Enjoy…

Enter Darya

Eating like a “foodist” does not doom you to being ostracized from your friends and family. This post will teach you how to lightheartedly deflect your critics and gently nudge (but not annoy) those loved ones you hope will adopt better eating habits.

This is tricky business, but it can be done.

How To Win Over Friends and Influence Family

It’s hard to see loved ones suffer as a result of their eating habits. Traditional whole foods have been out of fashion for so long that many of our parents and sometimes even our grandparents are completely unaware of the negative health effects caused by the foods they grew up loving. As they age, however, these habits start to take their toll, and we must watch as their health deteriorates. A medical emergency that brings them face-to-face with reality is sometimes what it takes for them to make changes. Other times even that isn’t enough.

Unfortunately, changing the habits of another person is even more difficult than changing your own. Stubbornness, pride, and ignorance can prevent people from even listening to advice that could save their lives, and for whatever reason age tends to compound these particular traits. Pushing a message that people don’t want to hear can cause them to dig in and fight even harder to preserve their way of life, straining and potentially destroying your relationship with them. When dealing with someone like this, it’s first essential to accept the fact that there may be nothing you can do for him or her. No matter how badly you may desire to help, a person has to want to change and cannot be forced.

But still, change can happen. Despite my close relationship with my father and his enthusiasm about my career path, I didn’t expect him to ever alter the way he ate. My dad had suffered from depression since I was in high school, and his outlook got even worse after my mother passed away in a car accident in 2003. Like most people, he had developed the habit of eating processed and fast foods starting in the early 1990s, and as his depression grew deeper, the effort he put into feeding and taking care of himself waned.

“In general, I did not want to continue living and didn’t think I would. With all the health problems I was having, and especially after your mom died—that was a really hard thing for me to deal with—and I thought it would be better if I was gone too,” he told me.

After a series of serious medical emergencies that nearly took his life on three occasions, I had nearly given up hoping for a turnaround, even though he was only in his fifties. But I continued to love him and share my passion for seasonal food whenever possible.

“You were so understanding, you never put any pressure on me or tried to convince me to change, but you always gave me hope that things would get better, things would be better,” he recalled.

From my perspective he had gone through enough and didn’t need me or anyone else telling him how to live out his life. If he didn’t want to live, I didn’t want to bug him about his blood pressure or eating habits. I just wanted to have as many happy and positive times with him as possible until whatever happened happened, and the last thing I wanted was to strain our relationship unnecessarily. I know my dad, and he is not one to do anything just because someone else, even me, thinks he should. Still my excitement about food and health was genuine, and I knew he had always been a fan of a good meal, so I continued to share what I was learning.

My cooking was the first thing that caught his attention. I made a point whenever visiting home in southern California to stop by the San Francisco farmers market before getting on the plane and bringing back something delicious. On one summer trip I brought home a small bag of padrón peppers, some good olive oil, and a crusty baguette. Padróns are small green peppers that are a common tapas dish in Spain and a seasonal delicacy for foodists in San Francisco. They are incredibly simple to prepare. All you have to do is heat some olive oil in a cast-iron pan and cook the peppers over medium heat until they blister and just start to brown. When they’re done, sprinkle them with some coarse sea salt and eat them with your fingers. Padróns have a deep pepper flavor, but are not usually spicy—except when they are. One out of every ten peppers is incredibly hot, so eating a bowl is a bit like playing Russian roulette with your tongue.

My dad has always been a fan of spicy foods, and I knew that padróns would be right up his alley. At his house I cooked them with a little more olive oil than usual, because it becomes infused with the oil from the peppers and tastes delicious. We used the bread to sop up the extra pepper oil and cool our mouths when we got burned on the spicy ones. My dad loved every bit of it and quietly started paying more attention whenever I mentioned food.

His next great epiphany was beets [ubersimple recipe at the end of this post]. All his life he had hated beets, and consequently I had never eaten them as a child. The first couple of times I tried them, even at nice restaurants, beets tasted a little off to me. Something about their flavor reminded me of dirt, and I could never get past that to enjoy their earthy sweetness. But I continued to sample them when they were available, hoping one day something would click. That day came one sunny afternoon at the house of a friend who was hosting a dinner party. We were having Dungeness crab for dinner, which I was totally excited about, but the main course was a long way off, so she put out a huge pile of roasted beets sprinkled with chèvre cheese and fresh mint as an appetizer.

I was starving, so I started reluctantly picking at the giant pile with my fingers, since I didn’t want to scoop myself a serving of food I didn’t expect to like. I popped the first bite in my mouth and, yeah, it still tasted like beets. But I was hungry, so I tried another, this time with a good portion of mint and cheese on it. After a few chews, it hit me. “Whoa, this is good,” I said to myself. Something about the fresh-tasting mint and the creamy cheese balanced the earthy flavor of the beets and transformed them into something I could appreciate. I proceeded to put a hefty dent in the beet mountain, leaving bright pink stains all over my fingers. Beets had finally made it onto my beloved vegetables list, and I started making my own version of the recipe at home.

Proud of my recent conversion, I told my dad about my beet discovery during our next phone conversation. He replied skeptically, saying that he hated beets and always had. But I knew I was onto something and decided to include the recipe in our next Thanksgiving dinner, just so he could try it for himself. I made plenty of other dishes as well, just in case he really didn’t like the beets, but I followed my friend’s lead and set them out earlier than the rest of the food as an appetizer, knowing that someone with a hungry tummy couldn’t resist trying a bite. It worked.

“When you made those beets I was like, ‘Wow, this is so unbelievable! So different from what I remember,’ ” he recalled.

I was stoked, and my dad became a believer. At almost sixty years old, he developed a new appreciation for vegetables and real food (turns out the beets he grew up eating were always from a can), even the ones he thought he didn’t like.

“It made eating and preparing healthy food much more fascinating,” he explained. “It became exciting to me to see what the possibilities are.”

The beets weren’t enough to change my dad’s habits, but he was starting to make the connection between good food and good health. More important, he was now convinced that vegetables and other healthy foods could taste amazing and that eating them would not be a sacrifice. He also began paying more attention to me and the things I would say and share on Facebook about the connections between food and wellness.

Though he still didn’t care much about his own life or health, he was growing weary of feeling sick and drained all the time, and it was becoming obvious to him that his health (and possibly his diet) was the reason. After living for decades on processed foods, my dad had developed prediabetes and his blood sugar swings were having a terrible impact on his mood and energy levels. He also had dangerously high blood pressure, and in 2006 a mild stroke left him with a speech impediment that deeply troubled and embarrassed him. Worse, the stroke made it nearly impossible for him to play his guitar, the only passion he had left in his life. Though he was able to recover his speech and dexterity after a couple of months, this experience scared him enough to at least start taking medication for his condition and paying more attention to his diet. He may not have cared then if he lived or died, but he knew he didn’t want to live without his music.

Because he’s a good father, my dad had always done his best to keep up with my work ever since I started writing in 2007. He’s seen almost all my rants against processed food and praise for seasonal vegetables, pastured eggs, and wild fish, and nothing had ever convinced him to change the way he eats. Then one day in late July 2011, I got a phone call with the words I never expected to hear.

A few weeks earlier I had released a video on Summer Tomato about salt, explaining how it affects your health and what you need to understand to make smart food decisions. My basic argument was that salt itself is not bad for you. In fact, it is necessary to have some sodium in your diet. Moreover, salt makes food taste better, and I encourage everyone to sprinkle some on their vegetables if it helps them eat more of them. There are three reasons salt is a problem for most Western societies. The first is that we eat way too much of it, which can lead to hypertension. However, a whopping 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods.11 Relatively speaking, the salt you add to your own home-cooked food is insignificant.

The second issue is that sodium intake must be balanced by sufficient potassium intake, which comes mainly from vegetables. [Note from Tim: avocados, white beans, and spinach are great options.] That is, the more vegetables you eat, the less dietary sodium matters. Most people don’t eat enough vegetables, so eating a lot of sodium poses a bigger risk for developing high blood pressure than it would in the context of a healthier diet. Third, a high intake of fructose, a common ingredient in processed foods, exacerbates the effects of sodium in the diet. This means that the same amount of salt in your food is more dangerous if there is a lot of fructose around as well. All three of these points lead to the simple conclusion that too many processed foods and too few vegetables are the real causes of hypertension, not the little white shaker sitting on your kitchen table.

On that random day in July, my dad called to tell me that he watched this video, and something about it struck a chord. I remember his words so vividly I can still hear him saying them in my head.

“I watched that video you made about salt, and it was really great,” he began.

“Thanks, Dad,” I replied.

“Yeah, I was watching it, and you made me realize that salt is already inside the processed foods,” he explained.

“That’s right,” I answered, almost chuckling at his excitement about this simple revelation. My brain instantly cued the scene from the movie Zoolander in which Hansel realizes that files are kept in the computer and then throws the machine off a balcony, so he could open it up and find them.

“Well, since the salt is already in there, I stopped eating them,” he continued.

“What?” I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right.

“I stopped eating the processed foods a couple weeks ago. But I needed something else to eat, and I remembered you always saying I’m supposed to eat vegetables, so I went to the store and bought all of them,” he went on.

“What? What did you buy?” I asked, starting to realize the meaning of his words. Maybe he did throw his processed foods off the balcony.

“I bought all the vegetables. They weren’t very well labeled, so I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting. But I think I got some kale and some chard. And I got some peppers, onions, mushrooms, and all sorts of other weird shit. I took it home and cut it all up—it took an hour there was so much of it—and I made three huge batches of stir-fry. It was beautiful, and so colorful, so I call it my Rainbow Stir-Fry. And it was delicious! I take it to work and eat it every day for breakfast and lunch. I also sauté some fish or turkey meat and eat that. After eating that all day, I’m not usually hungry for dinner.”

Laughing again, this time in disbelief, I asked, “So you’ve been eating nothing but vegetables, fish, and turkey for two weeks?”

“Yeah, and I love it! And I’ve had to poke two new holes in my belt. I think I’ll need to get new pants soon.”

To say this was hard to believe is beyond an understatement. Seemingly overnight, my dad, who had nearly given up on his own life, had completely overhauled his eating habits and loved everything about it. At the time I didn’t let myself dwell too long on what this could mean. It was still too new, and too unbelievable. But deep down I knew what was at stake if he was serious: it meant he might make it. It meant he might be around to meet his future grandkids, my future children.

As I hoped, my dad’s change was real and permanent. In just two months he was down twenty-five pounds. I know this because he was so impressed by his own transformation that he went and bought himself a scale to track his progress. It wasn’t out of vanity—the man doesn’t have a full-length mirror in his entire house—but out of curiosity. He wanted to have something tangible to look at and know that what he was doing was making a difference.

“In the beginning I didn’t know I was losing weight because I didn’t weigh myself, but I kept having to put new holes in my belt, and one day there were so many folds in my pants. I wore a size 36, so I tried a 34, and goddamn those were too big! I couldn’t believe I was a size 32—I was so proud of myself.”

Shortly after that he developed an uncontrollable urge to start exercising.

“It only took about two to three weeks of me eating like that every day to feel a complete difference in my body, in the way I felt. It all starts adding together, it has an effect on your whole life,” he explained. “The exercise came along when the weight started melting off. It was just dropping off me. And I felt like I wanted to stretch and move again. I didn’t want to feel weak anymore,” he said.

For over five years he had been using a cane to walk. His knee had been severely weakened from a staph infection, which required surgery that left a massive amount of scar tissue. But when he started losing weight, it was easier for him to move around, and he started using the cane less and less. He started taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, spent more time walking with his dogs, and bought some used exercise equipment for his house—some dumbbells and an ab roller wheel. Over a year later he is down fifty pounds and doesn’t use a cane at all.

“Now I do a hundred ab rolls every day,” he told me. (If you’ve ever tried these you know how hard they are. I can only do about thirty, and then I’m sore for days). “I remember when I hit eighty the first time I couldn’t believe it. It’s really good because when things don’t go well at work one day, or I have problems with the dogs, I know I did my hundred rolls. I have at least that one thing I’m proud of. It’s a lifestyle that I find very delightful,” he gushed.

As his eating habits and body transformed, so did his outlook on life. “I thought, ‘Well shit, if I’m going to live and see my kids grow up, I don’t want to be in a wheelchair. I better be fit enough to do stuff on this planet,’ ” he explained.

When I asked him what he thought led to his change, he had a hard time putting his finger on it.

He said, “For me it took having the wake-up call of the health issue. Then somewhere in me I decided I really didn’t want to die. I don’t know exactly when it was, but it was definitely associated with you. I always felt better after speaking to you. It wasn’t for me or because of me, but your belief that things could be better.”

My dad’s healthstyle has evolved since he first started on his journey. Eventually he became tired of eating his Rainbow Stir-Fry day in and day out.

“At first,” he explained, “it was a bit like cooking dinner and making a piece of art you could eat. Then after about six months it started being too much of a hassle and started getting old. But that didn’t mean I went back to my old habits.”

He now shops and cooks more frequently, making smaller batches of vegetables and fish that he can whip up quickly in the morning before work. “I mix it up with different sauces, Chinese or Turkish, and I rotate and shop at different places for my vegetables. I found a little produce place by my house now that has better vegetables than my grocery store. I never get tired of this stuff.”

Though he knows his dishes and strategies will continue to change as he gets better at cooking and learns to use new vegetables, he isn’t worried about slipping back into his former habits.

“I’ve gone long enough now that I know in my heart that I’ll never go back to my old way of eating, because I don’t find any joy in it. I still go get sushi or Mexican food occasionally, but I don’t want to do it every day. I’m happy and comfortable with how I’m doing it now.”

My video on salt was clearly a catalyst for my dad’s turnaround, but it would have been impossible for it to have had the impact it did without the years of education and encouragement from me that came before it. Just as important is that he was able to make the adjustments at his own pace, without pressure from anyone to do it a certain way.

“I was able to read on Summer Tomato without interacting with you all the time, and see the reasons for doing all this stuff. Then I had the opportunity and knowledge, which I got because of you, and I stumbled my way through it until I got my own style. Once I made up my mind, I’m pretty hard to keep down. I went whole hog,” he explained.

I asked him if he had any advice for people in the same situation that I was in, wanting to help a loved one make healthier choices.

“As long as they can be patient and present things in a way that’s easy to understand. Let your family see how you eat, read a little, and get some inspiration. Everyone has to find their own path, what works for them,” he advised.

As for my dad, he’s just happy it clicked for him when it did.

“I’m feeling better now than I have in a really, really long time. I’m very confident about the future,” he said.

“So am I.” I smiled.

Beating Beet Aversions

If my dad can learn to like beets at the age of fifty-five, anyone can. This is the recipe that convinced him (and me a year earlier) that the humble beet can be as delicious and elegant as any exotic vegetable.

This is the perfect dish for the beet skeptic and beet lover alike, and it hardly requires any cooking skills. If you are still worried you will not like the flavor of beets, look for the milder and less messy golden or pink-and-white-striped cioggia beets. Whenever possible I like to use a few different colors to mix it up, but if all you have are the common red garden beets they work beautifully on their own.

To begin you must eliminate all thoughts of substituting canned beets for fresh. Fresh roasted beets have a rich, sweet, earthy flavor that is completely unlike that of the flaccid purple slivers that come in a can. You will also need fresh mint leaves. Most grocery stores carry them; ask if you can’t find them. Chèvre is a soft goat cheese that a close friend of mine describes as “like cream cheese only better.” A little bit goes a very long way, so I always buy the smallest amount possible (it usually costs around $3).

Be careful not to add the cheese directly to hot beets or it will melt and form an unattractive pink slime. It still tastes good, but it’s better to avoid this problem by cooling the beets beforehand. An hour in the refrigerator works well, but if you are in a hurry you can get away with ten to fifteen minutes in the freezer. This dish is very easy to scale for large batches, making it ideal for parties and potlucks.

Roasted Beets with Fresh Mint and Chèvre

Serves 2 to 3

1 bunch of beets (3 large), any variety

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

¼ ounce chèvre

Sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375?F. If the leaves are still on the beets, twist them off, leaving enough stem to use as a handle for peeling. (If the beet greens are still fresh and springy, I recommend cleaning them and cooking them up with some onions and garlic—sauté them like spinach. Beet greens are so full of potassium that they taste naturally salty, so be careful with your seasoning, because they are easy to oversalt.)

Peel the beets using a vegetable peeler and chop them evenly into ¾-to-1-inch cubes. Keep in mind that the larger the
pieces, the longer they will take to cook. Discard stems.

Add the olive oil to the beets and toss to coat. Sprinkle the beets with salt and place in a single layer in a large Pyrex baking pan. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and roast until the beets are tender and have a glazed-like appearance, stirring every 8 to 10 minutes. Roasting takes approximately 35 minutes.

When the beets are finished roasting, transfer them to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes, but 45 to 60 minutes is preferable.

Five minutes before the beets are done chilling, stack the mint leaves on top of each other and chiffonade them by rolling them lengthwise like a cigarette and slicing them into thin ribbons. For very large leaves I like to cut the ribbons in half once by making a single cut through the middle of the pile along the vein of the leaves. Discard the stems.

Using a fork, crumble a small amount of the chèvre into a small bowl or plate and set it aside. When the beets are ready, sprinkle the mint onto the beets and stir, reserving a few ribbons for garnish. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer the minted beets to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the chèvre and remaining mint. Serve immediately.

###

Click here to learn more about Darya’s book Foodist.

Have you been able to help loved ones quit bad behaviors or adopt healthy ones? Please share your stories and recommendations in the comments!

Posted on: May 1, 2013.

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107 comments on “Jedi Mind Tricks: How to Get Loved Ones to Lose Weight

  1. This was great Tim and Darya. Although I was going to tweet you this question, I figured it would be easier to see what others might add to this dilemma: One question that I keep getting from friends and relatives, and personally I think bears me asking as well, is about the morning routine for eating within 30mins of waking up (the 30g within 30m). I prefer to do my morning workout before breakfast, but then I know I’m not following the 30min rule. But isn’t exercising after eating breakfast harmful to your system? Aren’t you supposed to wait at least 2 hours for proper digestion before engaging into an exercising activity?

    Thanks again for a great post to share with others and will see you soon.

    ~Paul

    Like

  2. Whoever can achieve similar success with a sensitive wife/girlfriend, will deserve a medal.

    I am very fit and active and exercise religiously. My beautiful wife has put on a few pounds and has been unable to get rid of them. She is very sensitive about it and I try to be cautious, but she has picked up on my disapproval of her diet (she loves her cheese and bread) and her exercise (exercises regularly but stays away from intensive workouts). I managed to get her to work out and run with me in the past but my excitement and passion scared her away and made it a very frustrating activity for her.

    Now it got to the point where anything that has to do with food/exercise is a very touchy subject and the more I push, the more she resents it.

    She is beautiful, and not obese by any means, but she couldn’t definitely lose 20 lbs or so. I hate myself for being shallow, because she is an amazing woman, and I love her, but fitness is a huge part of my life, and I would love it if she shared that same lifestyle. I know she wants to be fit, but I don’t know how to make suggestions at this point without her resenting them.

    I think the key is to let her make those changes on her own, and to realize that I will love her no matter what. That will be my new strategy.

    Like

    • I’ve had the same issue with my husband. The difference is that you’re dealing with a woman. I’ll be the first to admit it: we can be oversensitive about these things. It really does feel like rejection if we don’t measure up in your eyes, and we know it. Dote on her. Spoil her, and let her know you adore her, and leave no doubt. When she really feels that you value HER above all else, and not her turning into a hottie, the intrinsic desire to earn what you’ve already given her (your approval) will likely manifest in a renewed interest in fitness.

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  3. 4 months ago my Dad had a heart attack at age 71. I’ve since seen a dramatic change in him. For the first time he is actually thinking about what he is eating and if there is a better alternative.

    He has always been a stubborn & fussy eater but he thought he was looking after his body. He has never been over weight, had any cholesterol issues or smoked, he always keeps fit & active. He has finally realised that you have to be healthy inwardly too and that variety & nutrition go a long way towards that. We have always been there for him if he ever wanted to make a change. However it has taken something serious for him to actively start asking questions on what is better for him and to have open ears ready to listen to the answer.

    He explained that his mind is in such a routine that he needs alternatives so there isn’t a constant stress of “what’s ok to eat”.

    Across the board every store cupboard product was swapped to a lighter, low salt/sugar (no sweetners) version – he barely even noticed the change. Beans, sauces, cooking oils, soups etc. For meals he now substitutes his old fave foods with better options. So for example instead of reaching for ice cream he’ll pick a probiotic yogurt. Fresh fruit instead of a fruit pie, fresh steamed fish instead of breaded fish, boiled eggs instead of fried eggs, whole fibre bread instead of white bread (because it’s more filling and means he eats less bread all round) There’s still the same amount on his plate.

    There are still lots more improvements he can make but actually enjoying the better options is a huge thing for him. Even though weight was not an issue he has lost 20lbs without trying. The small food changes add up. My Mum has also lost weight too just from the default foods being slightly improved.

    I could have never opened his ears for him but hope I’ve helped when he showed he was keen to change.

    The key here and in a lot of the other comments is leading by example. Making it clear to family & friends you get huge enjoyment from eating delicious and healthy food. A positive food role model is what a lot of people are lacking. Make food an open topic of conversation instead of a source of tension. It leads to genuine interest where those that need to change decide what’s ok to try. It’s less of “you should try this, you’re so stubborn” and more of an open invitation to share food and try whatever they feel they might like.

    Those that naturally love food (both bad & good) are easier to influence because they eat for the taste & healthy food can taste great too. Fussy eaters with a limited range of likes are tougher.

    While we may want to be credited with changing others mind views, we have to respect other people’s tastes. They’re often slow to change. You can’t expect people to like all flavours. Be ok with it when someone tries something and still doesn’t like it.

    The change has to come first from recognising what they are eating isn’t good enough. Then they go in search of a healthier replacement. No-one just wakes up and decides to cook a meal they’ve never had before, they need to have seen or heard of it before. That’s why exposing family & friends to new ingredients and flavours is an important contribution.

    I’ve had a lot of success adding new foods into my parents & partner’s eating range by adding it in small amounts. I find the tastiest way to introduce an ingredient is as part of an already loved meal. I then chop it up so fine they barely know it’s there, slowly increasing the size each time we eat the meal. I’ve done this with onions, peppers, garlic, mushrooms – even fresh tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli & chillis. Now we’re at a point where if I leave a new ingredient out of a dish, they’re like “this is missing something”.

    Good luck to all those helping family & friends through food changes and thanks to Darya & Tim for this post.

    Like

  4. I have some severely unhealthy family members and I was feeling hopeless on the matter until I read this article. I want to help facilitate a healthy life style for them without coming across as judgmental. I simply care about them and want the to live and thrive as long as possible. Persistent is a huge factor and I will try to be patient but continue offering them healthy opportunities and information.

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  5. I bookmarked this page to read right before my boyfriend and I visit his parents for a week. This trip is significant as my boyfriend’s mom took a sabbatical from her super stressful job so she can recover physically and mentally. While she worked she barely did any weight bearing exercises, had an aversion of doctors (read: no annual check-ups), and has had a bad habit of eating out all the time and loading up on carbs. I have seen her weight fluctuate over the past few years, but no one really knows how much she weighs. I suspect this big lady weighs anywhere from 250-350lbs. None of her kids or her husband are willing to suggest healthy changes for a forceful breadwinner of the family. Read: Fear, sensitivity, and dependency between loved ones. Your post nailed it.

    We plan on making a healthy home cooked meal for his mom on Mother’s Day. But this post affirms that we could cook all week for his mom as a subtle way to introduce health eating and lifestyle. When she visited us last year, she kept telling me that I did not have to go through all the trouble of cooking dinner every night for every one. I have been so accustomed to cooking fresh groceries (I try to grocery shop frequently and cook it immediately) that this was no big deal to me. But it was a big deal to her because of her stress habits. When I realize she would polish off her plate and ask for more, I knew that something paid off. And so we are at it again this coming week. Wish us luck with her subtle Mother’s Day “present” all week. I think this is a decent way to deal with my boyfriend’s mom’s weight issues without having to discuss it head-on.

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  6. I’ve been telling my mom how much I love smoothies for a while now. We’re both big sweets lovers, and I feel like a spinach smoothie with cacao powder and almond butter is the best sweet-tooth satisfier that you can have and feel good about too! She wasn’t hearing it though – her blender broke recently and even though I suggested she check out a nutribullet, she wasn’t all about it.

    Then one day a couple weeks ago she calls me up and says, “Hey I wanted to tell you I got a nutribullet and have been making all kinds of smoothies. It’s the greatest thing and so easy to clean! And it’s the smoothies taste so good and are so filling!” She went on for a bit about how much she loves it and how she’s making spinach smoothies and even adding things like parsley and mint. I had the same reaction you did, Darya. Surprised, laughing because it was so funny how the light bulb just suddenly went on, but HAPPY because she tried it.

    Just yesterday she bought two more and shipped them to my sisters. ;-)

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  7. What a beautiful story. Reading about how healthy changes brought happiness to Darya’s father is incredibly inspiring.

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  8. Family can defentily be such a pain when it comes to suggesting dietary changes. Specially when you are not ready to receive that information as it pokes on your ego. Following simple guidelines from the USDA is not bad either as a starting point in the quest for a healthy lifestyle.

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  9. Ok I started this diet 2 weeks ago. I weighed in at 170 and my body fat was at 15%. Here was my normal diet before I committed to the diet. Oatmeal with protein shake after I woke up. Snack at 10am with fruit. Lunch of whatever. Snack on fruit at 2-3pm. Work out at 5pm-7pm. Eat stir fry mostly at 730. Sleep at around midnight. Weekends eat whatever and drink.

    Since I’ve been on the diet I’ve only lost 1 pound and no body fat.
    Wake up: eggs, different protein like chick or turkey, black beans
    Lunch at around 12: lunch with eggs, lettuce, balsamic vinegar dressing, chick, tomatoes
    3pm: shake with half Muscle milk light and EAS protein shake with glutamine powder
    Work out from 5-7
    Dinner at 730: stir fry with Veges and meat and black beans
    And I drink at least 64 oz of water each day
    Saturday is my cheat day and I’ve eaten all day with my stomach hurting all day!!

    I am pretty disappointed with only losing 1 lb in 2 weeks. What could be the problem. I haven’t touched any supplements. My friends haven’t touched the supplements and have lost a lot of weight. What is my problem!? Thanks for your help!!!

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    • If you want a 1 sentence answer; too much protein from low quality sources and not enough vegetables, starchy carbs and fruit.

      Also, read your own post : My friends aren’t taking supplements, they are losing weight. I take supplements and I am not losing weight. Try to get your nutrients from real food, not supplements. Supplements are the hard alcohol of food, best taken sparingly.

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  10. Darya,

    Wonderful post! Great story as well! It’s nice to see someone who believes “habits” are really the answer to weight loss and being healthy. Sounds like your dad learned a wonderful habit from you, without being forced :) That is exactly what I live by and teach to people all around the world. It is actually very rare to run across someone who has such similar beliefs, and who took a similar career path as well. I’ll grab your book and read it this weekend – absolutely looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ll even catch up at some point soon. Inspired to continue on this journey. Thanks again!

    Tim:
    Great stuff as always! T minus one day until I depart from the safety net of my “regular doctor” job. I have you to thank as the catalyst, hands down. My fiancé cried the other day as she read a list of “goals” that I checked off one-by-one over the last 2 years. The funny thing was, I wasn’t even conscious that I was completing them, let alone completing them in the exact order I had written them down. I was only reminded of that list 2 weeks ago, when I stumbled across the list of outrageous goals I set for myself. I owe much of this to you, your beliefs, and your actions. I am eternally grateful.

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  11. Thanks so much for this post Darya and to Tim for sharing it here on your blog… this post speaks so directly to me right now as I seem to be hitting my head against a brick wall repeatedly, with little progress when it comes to my own father, and despite him agreeing how important many of Tim’s advice is, he doesn’t “wake up” and realise how important it all he…

    I’m going to give your method a go Darya and if anything I won’t be so hurt by it anymore if he chooses not to try and be healthier and happier etc. Thanks for your help.

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  12. This is very helpful. My cousin is obese and I know she’s getting tired of being bullied in college. Even though she does not say anything I know she is very much willing to lose weight. As a starter, I think she is just afraid that people may just laugh at her instead of encouraging her to live a healthy life. I am practicing some of the steps stated above to help her lose weight.

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  13. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels! There are so many people that would be great looking if they lost weight. I would rather jack off than have sex with a big girl.

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    • Family comes first :)

      I was completely losing hope because of my father’s habit in eating but when I read your article, I was really moved about this. Imagine, helping a member of your family without sacrificing LOVE?! Whoah! I will surely give this a try to my father. LOL

      I’m gonna post this on facebook for everyone who has also the same problem with me.

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  14. I have twin boys and my husband is a junk/processed food junkie, and they picked up the habit of soda/chips/doughnuts and heat and serve stuff. When they were younger I tried to cajole/bribe/force them to eat healthy food. DID NOT WORK. So for the last few years I just let it alone, didn’t comment, and went ahead and made my delicious healthy meals all for myself. Little tastings and watching later, they are now 16 and eat only whole grains, almost no sugar, and local organic fruit, vegetables and meat only. No nagging. My husband is the hold out, and whether he changes or not is up to him (and his Spam and cheeto dinners). One thing that impressed the boys was the disappearance of acne and the surge in energy.

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  15. My mom is now 60 and widowed, 7 years ago my dad committed suicide and since then she appears to be getting worse every year despite the constant health reminders I give her about the food and the cigarettes she smokes. I’m 23 and have almost given up/accepted that she is stuck in her ways because every time I do mention this it ends up annoying her. I have attempted this at so many different angles and it’s frustrating to see no results.

    Your article has re-inspired me to try and help her out but it also lacks actual ways how. I am not a doctor nor do I have a book on this stuff nor can I cook that great. My mom is an excellent cook but seems to not venture out of her comfort zone in regards to food. For smoking she has tired an “e-cigarette” but says that it’s too pricey to maintain. Our relationship is strained because of this. I wish I could force my mom to quit smoking and eat healthy but of course that’s not an option despite it being the only conceivable option I have at this point.

    I know this article is old but any advice from anyone could potentially help save my moms life.

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  16. She must believe that she will live longer if she quits smoking (or cuts down to just one or two cigarettes a day) and eats less (and/or exercises more), and that living longer is well worth the sacrifice. Try to convince her that if she wants to improve her odds of watching her grandchildren grow up (promise her that you intend to have children), she must make the sacrifices. You must convince her that enjoying her grandchildren far outweighs the pleasure she gets from smoking and overeating.

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  17. Thanks Tim for posting this info.
    And thanks Darya…you’ve given me some hope. My father is a stubborn man and my mother has struggled for years with his health (he’s already had a stroke and is diagnosed with type II diabetes). There is no quick fix, but I now may have an idea for how to approach something I thought was a lost cause.

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  18. I have the same reactions as some others – I just emailed this to a few close friends.
    I’m 50, not perfect health or fitness, but not bad. I’ll probably live until my 80s.
    I have friends my age who will be lucky to make another decade. Imagine being one heart attack in, yet still smoking, salting everything, being almost proud of avoiding exercise, and living off fast foods. It’s like a short term death wish.
    Even small changes at first can make massive differences!

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  19. I’ll admit to having forwarded this to a few family members.
    I’m pretty fit, I eat somewhat healthily, I have family that, well, will probably take a decade + off their lives if they do not do something better

    PS: The Roasted Beets recipe is awesome!

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