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by Abigail Van Buren

Constant Talk About Losing Weight Has Unhealthy Effect

DEAR ABBY: My dad had a heart attack and nearly died a year ago. Since then, he has totally revamped his diet and put forth the effort to eat a plant-based diet to become healthier. It has been a family affair, and my sister jumped on the bandwagon as well.

I have battled for years with an unhealthy relationship with both alcohol and food. I have been seeking help for my troubles. The more help I have received, the more I have come to realize my body dysmorphia issues come from my mom and sister and their constant talk about losing weight and being healthy. (Get this: When Mom isn't around my dad, she downs double cheeseburgers, and my sister can drain a bottle with the best of them.) Every single family event or dinner out there's a discussion about how my mom needs to lose weight or eat better or something.

I want to support Dad, and other family members as well. How do I politely tell them I can no longer be around the constant "lose weight" talk or healthy food talk because it is hindering my own ability to heal and be happy with my body? And how do I tell a family of drinkers I'm no longer drinking? -- UNHEALTHY IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR UNHEALTHY: Congratulations on the lifestyle changes you are adopting. Change isn't easy, and how your family reacts to the new you will affect your relationship with all of them.

Approach your mother and your sister privately. Explain that in the course of getting help for your own issues you have discovered that certain subjects are detrimental to your recovery, and you would appreciate it if they were not a topic of conversation when you are together.

As to explaining your abstinence from alcohol to those who choose to imbibe, I do not think it is realistic to expect them to stop because you have chosen to. When drinks are offered, ask to be served something nonalcoholic. Many people do it these days, and it should not present a problem. If you are cajoled into having "just one," you may then have to seriously curtail the time you spend with them.

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