4. Beware the green-eyed monster. The thought of a spouse losing weight — and therefore perhaps becoming more attractive and appealing — can spur thoughts of jealousy in some people, says JJ Virgin, a weight-loss coach based in Palm Desert, Calif. To curb jealous feelings, Virgin advises dieting spouses to explain why slimming down will benefit the relationship. (For instance, “When I’m not so heavy, I’ll have more energy for doing things together.”) Dieters should also reassure spouses concerned about infidelity that they are fully committed to the relationship.
5. Be patient. When a doctor prescribes a diet, a spouse can feel urgency, even panic, if the pounds don’t disappear soon. Because successful weight loss takes time, that hurry-up attitude is neither helpful nor practical. Rather than push or criticize, be patient, especially when the dieter slips, says Kim Feingold, director of cardiac behavioral medicine at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “Family members are the first to criticize and they ignore the 80 percent when the patient is doing a good job,” she points out. Instead, focus on and praise the healthful behavior.
6. Make it an “us” project. Even if only one person must lose weight, a more healthful eating plan can benefit the entire household. Make shopping and cooking a team effort — write the grocery list together, go shopping together, and if possible, prepare food together. “The helpful part is when everybody’s on board,” Albers says.
Also of interest: How to boost your metabolism.