It's hard enough trying to be disciplined to stick to a healthy eating plan, but it's even tougher when your loved ones -- who are supposed to be supportive -– are constantly tempting and teasing you with the foods you're trying to avoid. Maureen feels that she's the victim of a so-called "diet saboteur." She says that since she started dating Al, she's gained about 10 pounds. "He enjoys life to the fullest," Maureen says, "and part of that is eating." If it were up to Maureen, she would only have healthy choices in their house, which makes food shopping difficult when Al fills their cart with sinful treats. "I tell him, but he just says, 'Don't worry about it, don't eat it -- I'll just eat it,' but he doesn't understand the temptation of just having it in the house."
Al defends his actions by saying he just wants to have fun with Maureen, and that fun includes sharing good food. But diet and health specialist Amy Hendel compares his behavior with another infamous temptress. "When a guy wants to diet or lose weight or gain control of his eating," she points out, "the woman will often nurture, take care and support him, even if she doesn't want to do it. But the guy -- it's interesting -- Eve handed Adam the apple; Al would hand her Godiva chocolates!"
Amy says there's no doubt that Maureen and Al love each other, but love can only go so far. "If there isn't communication, and if there isn't respect," she warns, "not only does it affect the food sector, but it affects every sector in your life." Amy has a few possible explanations for Al's sabotaging. She says, "Guys think either 'if she gains control it says something about me that I'm not in control,' or 'I have an eating pal, and if she starts doing this, I've lost my eating pal.'" She also suggests that Al may continue to entice Maureen with unhealthy snacks because he's slightly jealous of other men. "The guy thinks, 'She’s going to get a little more attractive. I feel a little more secure knowing she's a little out of reach to the next guy, because she's gotten just a tad heftier and curvaceous."
"I don't think he's that wicked," Rach protests. "Not sweet Al!"
Though jealousy might not be the reason behind Al's sabotaging, Amy points out a more serious concern. "You don't want to get to the point," she says, "where your loved one comes home and says, 'The doctor told me I'm pre-diabetic, I'm verging on hypertension, or I may be leaning toward heart disease because my habits are no longer good.' When you get to that point, there's no turning back."
How can Al and Maureen stop the cycle of sabotage? Amy's got three tips for them:
Learn to communicate. "You should start telling each other 'I need ...' without recriminations or accusations. Maureen can say, 'I really need to control my food to be happy -- can you help me?' and Al can say, 'I'd really like to enjoy a treat with you -- can you tell me what's the best treat for you right now?'"
Find some middle ground. "Compromise and buy somewhat healthier treats (lower fat that still taste good). Maureen can cook some new recipes and have taste tests with Al. Look for restaurants that meet both your needs."
Find new ways to connect and respect. "Maybe Al has a goal that could use some of Maureen's help, so that way she helps him with something and he supports her on the eating program."
In order to help Maureen and Al get started on their new program, Rachael sends them to a place where Al can't tempt her with his snacks, and where Maureen can get a bit of exercise and some relaxing spa time -- The Lodge at Woodloch, a Destination Spa.
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