DEAR ABBY: Along with millions of other Americans, I am overweight. This time of year is particularly difficult for me because of the well-intentioned but misguided actions of friends and family. With the holidays upon us, I have the following suggestions for anyone who knows someone who is fighting the battle of the bulge (and who doesn't?):
1. Avoid giving gifts of food. This means ALL food -- even your special sugar-free coconut cream pie. Giving chocolates or other fattening treats is, at the least, insensitive and borders on downright cruelty.
2. Do not "push" food on another person. If you're hosting a meal or a party, make a variety of healthy foods available along with any special treats you've prepared. Allow your guests to choose for themselves without comment. It is especially unfair to use guilt ("I made these just for you") to force food upon someone.
3. Do not comment on how much (or how little) someone is eating. Such comments draw unwanted attention to attempts to maintain control of holiday eating.
4. Have some compassion. We don't want to be fat. Losing weight and keeping it off is extraordinarily difficult for some of us. Don't think that you know what our problem is, because you don't. Obesity is a complicated issue with behavioral, emotional and spiritual elements. A single formula that works for everyone has yet to be discovered.
Finally, be supportive. If someone you love is trying to lose weight, be available to listen. Do not judge. -- CHUBBY IN PITTSBURGH
DEAR CHUBBY: Your suggestions are terrific and well worth space in this column. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country, and those who are trying to do something about the problem deserve all the help and support they can get. Dieting is difficult any time of year. But during the holidays with temptation all around, it's especially difficult to make it through the minefield.