3 Tricks to (Tactfully) Talk About Health Issues

When people you care about let themselves go, it’s only natural to want to help. 

 

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Mark Matcho 

Learn the right way to speak up when loved ones neglect themselves, and get them back on track with this advice from experts. 

“Anyone who has bad habits—whether it’s overeating, smoking, not exercising or not getting enough sleep—is acutely aware of the problem. Nobody is judging them more harshly than they’re judging themselves. That’s why it’s important, especially with a spouse, to set a good example as long as you don’t gloat or rub it in. Comment on their successes, not failures. Instead of feeling ashamed about their inability to change, they’ll start to celebrate their steps forward, however small.” —Kate McKay, author of Living Sexy Fit...at Any Age!

"Sometimes people can’t accept help from those close to them, no matter how well-meaning you are. In that case, steer your friend toward a support group. Being accountable to others is a powerful tool. And being surrounded by people struggling with the same problem will make it easier for her to open up if she backslides or needs extra encouragement.” —Roxanne L. Parrott, PHD, author of Talking About Health

“Look for signs that the person wants your help. That means picking up on cues, like constantly putting himself down or joking about how out of shape he is. Seize that moment and try to start an honest conversation about his overall health. Remember to be there as a supporter and a sounding board, not as a drill sergeant.” —Jill P. Weber, PHD, clinical psychologist

Finally, don’t hesitate to keep inquiring, “How can I support you?” The ways may change daily and the answers may surprise you, so ask often. 

Success Story: “My husband and I decided we needed to cut all the sugar from our diet, because we were practically living on it. One weekend we threw out three garbage bags full of food—I even videotaped it for future inspiration—and started eating healthy. Doing it together really helped us.” Mary Susan Buhner, 43, Indianapolis