Image: Making it about you, not them, is a good start
Years ago, a boyfriend of mine told me that he was worried about me.
He told me that I ate too much sugar. That I was going to end up with diabetes. That I needed to either change my eating habits or suffer the consequences, and I’d be suffering them soon.
It would be a serious understatement to say that I was pissed off with his little ‘intervention’. Firstly, we were on the last leg of a ridiculously tedious road trip, and I was already pretty damn cranky from spending a million hours in the car. Secondly, he was quite a shitty boyfriend and barely even spent any time with me during day-to-day life – so how was he supposed to know if I ate a lot of sugar?
Anyway, he was clearly an a-hole. But if you are legitimately worried about someone in your life, there are ways to tell them without being a total douche about it.
I spoke to health and wellness expert/PT, Kirsty Welsh, about what to do when you want someone in your life to be healthier – and she had five tips to share that might get them on the right track.
1. Ask yourself – “Do I really know what I’m talking about?”
In the great majority of situations, you have no place to judge how healthy someone else is - unless you can see everything that they're eating and doing.
"The only way you can make a comment about someone else is if you’re aware of their eating and nutrition and movement habits," Kirsty says. "If you’ve got no idea, you have no place to make a judgment. But when you’re close to someone, you should know what their health status is – if they’re high blood pressure, or have diabetes in the family, for example. That’s serious stuff and you can’t ignore it."
So if you're worried about a friend who you only see once a week... it's probably not your place to say anything. But if you're living with someone and aware of every single one of their movements, you're probably in a good position to encourage them to change their habits.
2. Try to break down any resistance they might have.
Think back to when you were little and your parents encouraged you to eat healthy food. You didn't want to do what they told you to do, right? Kirsty points out that we're still naturally resistant to what people tell us to do - and more often than not, someone close to you will also be resistant to your suggestions if you try and diagnose them as unhealthy.
Kirsty explains that we've got to work out a way "to dissolve that resistance wall - to allow them to see what they’re doing to their body and how they’re damaging it. You need to plant some seeds but let them learn it in their own time."
She suggests the following: "If you’re sitting down with them at dinner, tell them a story. Use metaphors or refer to an article you’ve read. If you bring up a conversation about a similar health issue in someone else, and tell it like a really engaging story about how it’s affected them, without actually linking it directly to the person of concern, hopefully they can kind of connect to that a little bit."
So all you really have to do is plant that seed of thought - and maybe they'll kick off their own health revolution.