Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mom's Shaming Causes Friend to Monitor Food

DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend’s mom recently told her that she had put on a few pounds and needed to lose it. When my friend mentioned it to me, I took it as a joke, like I thought she would, because she does not need to lose weight. A few days later, I walked into her house and there were sticky notes on the food cabinets and the refrigerator. One of them said, “Do not eat unless you are hungry.” The other one said, “Are you hungry?” I tried to act as if everything was normal, but that just isn’t normal. I am not sure how to act or what to do. Do I do anything? -- Weight Loss, Richmond, Virginia

DEAR WEIGHT LOSS: Let’s start with the reality that you are not a doctor, and neither is your friend’s mother. The best thing you might be able to do is to encourage your friend to get a physical from a medical practitioner to make sure she's healthy. A doctor can measure and weigh her to see if she is of a proper weight for her size and age. If she can go to her own general practitioner, she can also get a comparison to her previous weight. Encourage her to speak directly with her doctor about her concerns, including what her mother said.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Two of my best friends had a falling-out. One of them is still in my main clique of friends, but the other is in another friend group now. She did not want to be a part of this other girl’s life, so she started hanging out with different girls. It is hard for me to keep a friendship with her because I don’t see her as often, and no one in my friend group likes her. All my friends always tell me to stop talking to her or to stop trying because she is mean. She is still one of my best friends, and I want to keep our relationship, but it is difficult when all my friends keep telling me to stop talking to her. What do I say to them? -- Blueberry, Seattle

DEAR BLUEBERRY: Do not succumb to peer pressure. It is OK for you to be part of more than one friend group, and you can do it without advertising to either group who your other friends are. Your core group will likely stop complaining about the other friend if you stop talking about her.

Instead of working to win them over to welcome your friend, let them be. Look at your life and schedule to see when and how you can make time for the distant friend. Do not allow others to bully you into extricating yourself from someone whom you consider a best friend.

If your other friends call you out about remaining friends with this person, stand up for yourself. Tell them that you intend to remain her friend, even if she is not part of their clique anymore.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)