Agony Aunt, Andrea Moon

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Do I tell my girl I’m worried about her health?

Q: How do I tell my daughter that she is putting on weight, as every time I mention it she gets upset? She is 23 and recently lost two stone on a protein-only diet in a short space of time. I was really surprised that she has put it all back on in the last couple of months. It seems to have coincided with her meeting a new boyfriend and he doesn’t seem to mind. I love her to pieces but I’m worried for her health. I’ve offered to go to the gym with her or a slimming club but she gets really touchy. What can I say?

A: Why are people surprised that they get a negative response when they tell overweight people the flaming obvious? Believe me they are already very well aware of their size and need to be accepted rather than have their insecurities poked. If you felt that you were being judged by your loved ones as well as the whole of society, it would make most people rebel with an emotional reaction.

How does your daughter feel about her weight gain? If she is content and is able to enjoy all aspects of her life and it isn’t impacting on her health then I would suggest that you back off. If her health is being affected then she does need to make a change but only she can decide when and where. Do you have any influence on her eating habits? Do you eat healthily at home? It is normal to pack on a few pounds when you settle into a new relationship but that usually evens out. Fad diets are not the long term answer however astonishing they look in the glossy mags.

Restricting carbohydrates has fast results but when you lapse back (and you will, buttery toast anyone?), boy does that weight come back on with a vengeance, plus its buddies. The best way is through healthy eating and moderate exercise over the long term with a few treats thrown in.

You don’t have to punish yourself or apologise for being bigger than society (or that evil culprit, the media) insists is the required norm to be considered attractive. To quote Groove Armada “If everybody looked the same, we’d grow tired of looking at each other”. It is more important that your daughter enjoys life, her new found relationship and the love of her family, rather than worrying if her behind does look big in ‘this’.

If she does however, want to use the varied facilities of the local area there are many ways to get and stay fit. The lowest cost ones are usually council backed ventures which can be researched on www.sheffield.gov.uk