“New year, new you” is the motto you owned last year. You completed a 10K race (and nailed a new personal record), fell in love with kale and learned how to pronounce quinoa correctly.
But what about your BFF? She had a rough 2013 diet-wise, which sucks because you two used to try every new trendy health food together and share amazing recipes. It took her until Thanksgiving to reveal to you that she eats Chinese takeout twice a week, and the rest of the week is leftover pizza or a peanut-butter-and jelly-sandwich paired with a glass of chardonnay.
Yes, BFF is busy with work, her boyfriend, calming down her sister via two-hour phone conversations and deciding if pursuing her MBA is worth it, but her diet isn’t good, regardless of whether it’s affected her weight or not. And researchers agree that young women in particular need support to make healthy eating a priority.
We all want our BFFs around in another 30, 40 or 50 years — really, who doesn’t dream of becoming one of the “Golden Girls” with their best friends in old age? Let’s look at the ways that we can support our close friends in their pursuit of a healthier diet:
This is a sensitive one. Does our lady-love know that she has a problem? If she does, that’s great. If she doesn’t, schedule some time to sit and talk to her about it. Do research and present her with the facts and benefits of having a healthy diet. Try not to comment on the physical shape of her body (believe us, she knows that she’s too skinny or too heavy). Tell her this comes from a place of love and concern for her health. Remind her of your “Golden Girls” plans, and then …
Making a change — whether it’s in our diet or career, finances, housing or education — and making that change stick requires support from those we love. Some people seek out support from lots of people or just one or two people. Other friends may try to derail the change-seeker’s plans, making it even harder for them to stick with it. Be a supporter by staying positive, saying encouraging things and giving gentle reminders when your BFF might go off track.
Is she trying to stay away from alcohol or dessert? Maybe instead of meeting her for your weekly Thursday wine and tiramisu night, create a whole new fun and healthy routine of going to a farmers market and trying new recipes that involve squash, fish or beans.
Swap out Saturday brunch and bottomless mimosas with a morning Spinning class and post-workout smoothies. These are bonding activities that support her new habits. Plus, it’s much easier to make healthy choices when you’re doing it with someone else.
Life happens, and sometimes that means breaking the healthy routines we’ve established. Don’t let any dietary setbacks be the cause for your best friend to quit her new habits. If she gets off track, hold her accountable, but recognize that she’s probably not pleased with herself either.
Remind her that with every new day comes a new chance to make healthy decisions. Encourage her not to beat herself up over a cupcake binge or weekend of heavy boozing. And remember that Spinning class? Whisper to the instructor that your friend needs an extra-challenging workout. You’ll probably climb a lot more hills that day.