What would you do?: So I was in the... - Weight Loss NHS

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What would you do?

TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
42 Replies

So I was in the supermarket the other day (I'm in England at the moment) and happened to be behind a girl who was, well ... fat. As her stuff went past on the belt, she was discussing with the cashier (also fat) about her progress, or lack of it. The conversation was familiar: along the lines of "well, I stick to my diet plan for a week or three, lose a few pounds, and then it all goes right back on again".

It might sound as if I'm poking fun here, but I absolutely am not. I felt terribly sorry for this girl (and the cashier, who appeared to be stuck on a similar treadmill) because clearly, nobody had ever told her why she is fat, and what she might do about it. How do I know? Because I could see her shopping. Snacks. Biscuits. Low-fat chocolate "treats". A couple of ready meals. There was a conspicuous absence of actual food and a surfeit of coloured plastic wrapping with "healthy eating" slogans and WeightWatchers branding on it.

The terrible thing is this. What she was buying was basically compliant with received wisdom about losing weight. It was all low-fat, portion-controlled, and calorie-counted. But it clearly wasn't working, and I wanted to tell her why it wasn't working. But you can't do that, can you?

Why is it that, if someone is reversing into a lamppost, it's OK to bang on the car and tell them to stop? If you see a lost child at the mall, you can call over the security people to help find their parents. If you see an old lady struggling with her shopping, it's OK offer a hand. But if someone is eating themselves into an early grave, unaware of what they're doing, it's socially unacceptable to say anything. Unsolicited advice is rarely welcome, but unsolicited advice about diet is about as welcome as an improper proposition.

So, obviously, I didn't say anything.

What would you have done? Have you ever offered unsolicited advice about weight loss - even to friends and family? Is there anything at all that we can do, as individuals, to stop this madness? I've posted here for a few years and it's gratifying to see people pick up on tips or advice and find success. But it often feels like tilting at windmills when Big Ag can advertise their junk food as healthy, and get a nudge and a wink from government.

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IndigoBlue61
IndigoBlue61Administrator

Because I’m female, and I am still carrying some excess fat, I often just butt in and say “oh tell me about it, I’ve managed to lose three stone but it’s not easy is it” which often follows with them asking me “how?”

But I get where you’re coming from, and if that had been me in front of you in the queue I would have been mortified if you’d said anything ☹️☹️☹️

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Sewnknit
Sewnknit3 stone
in reply to IndigoBlue61

That is my basic attitude with others as well.

A lot of people I know are 'doing' either Weight Watchers or Slimming World. I should point out that 20 years ago I lost 7 stone with slimming world (got an award and everything).

The weight went back on slowly and the target I was given was too low for my frame.

I would never have believed that LCHF was an option and had doubts before I started.

When in discussions I'm asked about how I'm getting there I tell them, but I do get funny looks.

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to IndigoBlue61

I don't think I would have collared her right there in the queue, but I guess it's a moot point. I reckon you would have had success with that approach .. but I'm male, I'm quite a bit older than she was, and although I look like I know what I'm talking about (even under layers of winter clothing!) it would have been creepy at best.

I was really just lamenting the fact that it is creepy to do this, and there seems to be no way around it. I've seen two family members eat themselves to death (with another one seemingly on the same path), and it upsets me that there seem to be so few options for intervention.

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gonnadoitnow

I would have said nothing! Zilch! How do I know this? Because I have a big issue about how much sugar my three year old grandson consumes, and am I telling my daughter? No. Because all it will do is set up a defensive, negative reaction. Much better to turn up with healthy snacks and a smile. She is not overweight, just has a busy lifestyle and a fussy eater.

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lucigret
lucigretAdministrator
in reply to gonnadoitnow

I have complete empathy with you, am in a similar situation. 2 1/2 year old fussy eater introduced to sweet treats far too young!

At Nannies house we have to ‘compromise’, eat some good food to be allowed sweets, ‘Nannies rules in Nannie’s house, I don’t always win when the parents are here though!

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gonnadoitnow
gonnadoitnow6lbs
in reply to lucigret

Yes, I do a bit of that, but it's knowing my daughter would find me on her side if she just chilled enough to realise I wasn't having a pop at her.

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lucigret
lucigretAdministrator
in reply to gonnadoitnow

Not always easy is it, especially as we are so old and know nothing, ‘it’s not like it was in your day Mum’ 😂

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to gonnadoitnow

I had a similar conversation with my sister regarding my niece, who is quite seriously overweight and addicted to sugar and carbs (she eats little else, and has apparently been known to eat sugar by the spoonful). It just turned into a massive argument, even though my sister is perfectly aware that I lost a lot of weight, and how I did it.

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gonnadoitnow
gonnadoitnow6lbs
in reply to TheAwfulToad

Yes, it's best to weigh up what we want to achieve first. Unfortunately, any interference makes for confrontation even if kindly meant.

I spoke to a friend who has a child same age as my grandson and she said her child is a fussy eater and small, so naturally my friend worries. She offered sweet things to stop her not eating at all. Her child soon cottoned on and refused any normal food and was eventually just eating snacks.

My friend was very aware of her child's bad eating habits and felt guilty. But if anyone had said something she would have gone on the defensive and felt attacked, but only because somewhere along the line she knew and carried "mum guilt". In the end she banned all snacks and had to starve her child out a little to get her eating again.

Must say (rightly or wrongly) I felt better when I heard that story! (Laugh.)

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gonnadoitnow

I'm sorry for going 'off piste' with my comments, but it was only this morning I've let go of some of the angst.

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Trimmerteacher
TrimmerteacherMaintainer
in reply to gonnadoitnow

I'm fortunate that my daughter is up to date on the latest good advice, so my two year old grandson eats healthy homecooked meals. But my (second) husband and I watch helplessly as his ten year old grandson piles on the weight, eating and drinking sugar-laden snacks, and rarely eating proper home-cooked food, and we can't say anything to his daughter-in-law, who is now separated from his son. Such a difficult situation.

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gonnadoitnow

My daughter does do home cooked meals but is a bit sporadic. Always has been, (laugh). She went to feed her brother's cat and managed to give the cat his treats instead of his main dinner, so it's not just her children!!

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jubbly1955
jubbly19551 stone

I don’t think I would have said anything either for fear of causing a scene.

I have tried desperately to get a friend of mine to lose weight though. She listens to what I say but although she agrees with the points I am trying to make she has made no changes. I will keep trying though.

In the meantime though TheAwfulToad, you can continue to give your advice on this forum where it is greatly appreciated. 😊

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Sewnknit
Sewnknit3 stone
in reply to jubbly1955

It's a brain thing isn't it?

You gotta wanna.

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jubbly1955
jubbly19551 stone
in reply to Sewnknit

I wanna - I don’t want to be a shoulda woulda coulda

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Sewnknit
Sewnknit3 stone
in reply to jubbly1955

And I shoulda 5 years ago. But I'm getting there now.

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BerlinBetty

Yup, so true. A Brain Thing.

Monty Python's Mr Gumby used to say 'My brain hurts'. Well, so does mine when I'm battling with something like will-power.

As I said on this forum recently, someone once said that the biggest battles in life are those we fight inside ourselves, and it's certainly true re taking control of what we eat and drink!

BB x

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Sewnknit

It pains me to say it, but I think you're spot-on. Some people just don't seem to want it enough. Maybe they want it a bit, but not badly enough.

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sunny369
sunny3692 stone
in reply to jubbly1955

I try to tell my brother as tactfully and genuinely as possible because I love him and know how unhappy he is. He can see it's worked for me but still he mainly lives off biscuits. I think mostly (frustratingly) change has to come from the other person's own will to take the thing on board and act on it.

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BerlinBetty

So true. BB x

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Eleanorba
EleanorbaMaintainer

Really good way of doing it Indigo! I don’t think I’d have said anything though. I’ve done quite a lot of mental health training for my job, for example, and sometimes mental health crises can manifest themselves in sudden and dramatic weight loss or gain. I have felt completely fine with asking someone tactfully about a sudden weight loss and ended up genuinely helping them but just couldn’t imagine myself mentioning a sudden weight gain. I guess I’d more likely ask how someone was doing and see if they wanted to talk. So important not to ‘body shame’ anyone but a problem when it becomes socially impossible to mention an issue.

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Oolong
OolongTeam Sunday Rocks

I agree TheAwfulToad, you advice is welcomed here whichis great but offering unsolicited advice is a dodgy area. I think there are two main reasons, 1)weight is personal and a very touchy issue. 2)the information out there so varied and all claiming to be 'right', low fat, low sugar, low carb, gluten free, veggie, vegan, milkshakes, paleo, clean eating - the list goes on and on and each have their devotees. I think in the end it is what works for one that is the right one for that person in as much as they can lose weight on it. We may not personally think it is the healthiest way but then being overweight is not healthy either.

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Oolong

Yes, soooo many people claiming to have the right answer ... several of them funded by powerful business/political interests with deep pockets. And the average person takes much of it seriously, even though 90% of it has been shown to have no basis in science or everyday experience.

What upset me here was that she was "doing everything right", but seemed unable to put two and two together: this isn't working, therefore I need to do something different. I know how that feels; I've been there. What kicked me out of my rut was a book that pointed out that standard diet advice contradicts everything we know about human physiology.

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Lorna2204
Lorna22041 stone

It's a tough one! I probably wouldn't have said anything, not knowing the lady, but I like IndigoBlue61's idea. Perhaps whenever a situation may arise where we want to give advice to people about weight loss, we should focus on the positive - and what's more positive than our own success!

Whatever stage we are at, we have all lost something so far, however big or small, and then if they want to ask for more information, again stick to the positive. We could point out to the lady in question that ready meals are not the best option, but that would only lead to her feeling embarrassed about something she has done. As we all have our own journeys, the best way could be to focus on what worked for us in a positive light. Perhaps something along the lines of "I make sure I plan colourful, nutrient full, home-cooked meals that will satisfy me", "I keep a diary to make sure I understand how many calories I consume which makes me more mindful of my eating habits" or "I found an exercise I enjoy". I think we all have enough voices telling us what not to do, hearing what works for other people could be the inspiration we need. Nothing can promote such negative feelings as someone (usually my mum haha) saying "are you really going to eat that?" especially in a public space!

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Lorna2204

>> I think we all have enough voices telling us what not to do, hearing what works for other people could be the inspiration we need.

Couldn't agree more, and that was indeed the approach I was pondering. But ... I dunno, it seems to that even positive advice can be misinterpreted and taken as an insult these days.

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BridgeGirl
BridgeGirlAdministrator

Afraid I'd have done what you did - nowt.

I have in mind, now, someone I really like who is very large and growing larger. I would love to ask her about it but it's just not a conversation I can ever imagine having, unless she started it. She's a terrific personality, witty, on the ball, knowledgeable, interesting, kind: I just wish she wasn't in this situation. On the other hand, she doesn't pretend to be 'dieting'. Maybe, some day, the opportunity will arise.

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lucigret
lucigretAdministrator

I’m afraid to say I would have done the same. If I had been included in the conversation , that may have been a different matter. A lady at the swimming pool did start talking to me one day about her weight loss journey and was really interested in what I had to say and went off furnished with details of the forum. Obviously I have no idea if she is here 👀 and I have never seen her since.

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S11m
S11mMaintainer

My father was 24 stone (when diagnosed diabetic).

One of my nieces, my twin brother and one of my sisters are morbidly obese.

A few months ago I told my brother about this site.

A little later I said I did not want to be at his graveside in two or three years thinking I had not done all I could. (Diplomacy is my strong suit)

He bought a book by Dr Jason Fung (but has not read it).

...and now he has had a biopsy for marrow cancer.

He says "Now is not the time" ...but Fasting helps with the treatment of cancer.

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BerlinBetty
BerlinBetty
in reply to S11m

So sympathise with this. There is nothing more difficult than watch a Loved One slowly self-destruct. BB x

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to S11m

Wow. I'm sorry to hear that S11m. I have some similar stories in my family. I bet a lot of people do, these days.

It's very odd how people can understand intellectually that there's a problem, and even to understand what the solution is ... and yet be unable to do anything about it.

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Lytham
LythamSuper Host 3st

Well, I must not be very tactful, I shout from the roof tops "Low Carb is the way forward!" And had I caught her eye, I would have said it to her. My family and friends just laugh at me, I just say, "Watch this space, you'll see" ! :-)

I've discovered something brilliant, and I want to share! :-) x

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Lytham

LOL - perhaps you're that sort of personality that can get away with the direct approach!

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PandQs
PandQs3st 7lbs

hi Toad, I’m in England, and certainly over the last couple of years I have noticed more and more how people here are becoming, no two ways to say it, they are “misshapen” and it really upsets me to see it. I often want to say to them, there IS hope, I was exactly the same 18 months ago and since the light bulb moment hearing about insulin resistance and LCHF my life has been turned around for the better. When people ask me about the now obvious weight loss, I tell them. The only person I told about LCHF without being asked, is someone who is very overweight, struggling to even walk and T2 diabetic - and I based my approach on “have you heard about new theory on how diabetes could be reversed?” rather than his weight. Like you there are so many people that I see who I would love to spend time with and hopefully help, but I’ve never dared to for fear of upsetting them. So yes, I know exactly how you felt in that situation.

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2718281

I think there is a difference between approaching someone about their weight, eating style or food choices and getting involved in a conversation that is already about weight. I think IndigoBlue's approach to the situation is very good, it's not about giving unsolicited advice, I would never do that especially if you don't know the particular circumstances of that person, but sharing your story (it's up to them to take it as advice or not) is a different thing. I think it wouldn't be incorrect to say something like "it's taken me XX years to find something that works for me, but I've managed to stick to blah, blah, blah....", I'm very introverted and uncomfortable in social situations, and I wouldn't take it badly (but I probably would if you just talk about what I'm doing wrong)

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to 2718281

This somewhat mirrors my thoughts on the subject. Simply telling someone they're buying crap food would be rude on any level (even if you were right). But since she seemed happy enough discussing the subject in public, I was toying with the idea of something like "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. I used to be fat and I can show you in five minutes how I stopped being fat, if you'd like to walk around the shelves with me". Of course, I bottled out. But I was only pondering this because she had started the conversation with someone who, I guess, was only a passing acquaintance.

I think what stopped me was the knowledge that, had someone done the same thing to me 15 years ago, I would have been skeptical ... because I thought I knew everything there was to know about "complex carbs", dietary fat, and suchlike. I was buying similar items. And I hadn't yet understood that the people handing out the slimming advice are either pathological liars, hopelessly ignorant, or just cynically obsessed with marketing junk.

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Newme2017
Newme2017Restart Nov 2019

I would not be happy if you questioned the food I was purchasing either. And I certainly wouldn’t question others either. It’s just rude. But I do understand what your saying.

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to Newme2017

I wasn't thinking of criticising the contents of her basket as such - my intent was to suggest other possibilities. But yeah, however you do it ... it's still rude!

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BerlinBetty

This is now a serious national dilemma and you're right; butting in to talk to the girl is just not acceptable on any level, however kindly meant.

I feel so angry about all of this but you'll know it from my past posts. There is literally a clutch of industries benefiting on an obscene scale from this kind of ignorance, and it goes hand in hand with the loss of home and school cooking lessons.

Sometime in the future, I'd love to run a positive campaign with a handful of like-minded people, through the medium of popular magazines, to counter this epidemic of buying and eating all the wrong stuff, then getting unfit and ill, then hoping that a national health system already drowning under the weight of diet-related illness and under-staffing, will help them out. No preaching, no negativity but good, down-to-earth advice and basic skills taught. The greatest of these would involve encouraging bods to boycott something like 60% of the carp sold in supermarkets under the legend-labelling of 'healthy' food.

But those involved would have to be tough. There are some seriously rich people out there who have no intention of relinquishing their holds on a processed food industry they promote and benefit from.

BB x

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToadAmbassador
in reply to BerlinBetty

Great response BB. I was thinking along the same lines. It's about time there was some counterpoint to the endless stream of BS and misinformation still spewing out via the press on behalf of supermarkets, food conglomerates, and people motivated more by politics or money than concern for their patients or clients (hello BDA, BHF, Diabetes UK).

I've noticed that a lot of the election-campaign hot air is about the NHS, with various people promising to pour more of our taxes into that particular black hole. To be clear, I'm a big supporter of the NHS, but its current business model is appalling. If I were being cynical, I might think the aim was to make everyone chronically ill in order that they can be medicated. The government openly acknowledges that at least a quarter of NHS funding (I suspect it's more like 70%) is wasted on what might be delicately called "lifestyle diseases", but nobody will stand up and say that this is happening because of disastrous advice from officialdom, and disastrous food policies to match. No amount of extra funding will fix this: in fact it'd probably make it worse.

People like PHCUK have got the ball rolling, but they're very coy with their message. They're careful not to step on the toes of the dietetic Establishment too hard. I think the message needs to be a lot more forceful: not just "here's something for you to think about", but a forthright j'accuse directed at groups and organisations who are taking the public for a ride.

As for getting positive messages and basic skills out there: that would be ideal, but it ain't going to happen. School life-skills curricula and public-education campaigns are sewn up by the vested interests. Schoolkids are taught from their early years to snack on ... erm, carp. Before there's any chance of getting them to eat proper food again, the credibility of the reigning experts needs to comprehensively dismantled.

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BerlinBetty

Yes, vested interests are at the heart of this problem. We mustn't feel defeated, however; there must be ways and means of getting bods to think for themselves more in this media-sodden world. I'm for trying. BB

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StillConcerned
StillConcernedAmbassador

I think it would help to impersonalise it. Something like "It's a hormonal thing. We've all had it drilled into us for decades that we eat too much. Now it's been proven that the very things we've been told to do contribute to the problem. Eating little and often, cutting the fat from meat, and eating lower-fat versions of dairy all raise our insulin levels predisposing us to store fat.

70% of UK people are overweight now. They didn't all decide to start eating too much and moving too little. I bet most of them have struggled just like you described".

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StillConcerned
StillConcernedAmbassador
in reply to StillConcerned

"They cut the recommendations for sugar to a minimum when it was proven what harm it does, but they forget to mention that all carbs are turned to sugar in the body. They just keep sticking to 'carbs have less than half the calories of fat' without acknowledging how too much is messing up our hormones". That sort of thing.

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