Food Pushers, Enablers and Good Supporters

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

June 23, 2015

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Weight Loss Surgery Talk - Food Pushers, Enablers and Supporters

Once again, I sat in a recent weight-loss surgery support group and found my mind rolling with new thoughts and ideas I’d never come to.

Quick plug: If you’re blessed enough to have a support group in your area, you should go! Sometimes you need to take it with a grain of salt and know that not everyone’s story is your own BUT sitting in a room full of people that can “get” this part of you is so valuable. I’m not a bariatric patient, but I feel like an honorary one after losing 40 pounds and working in weight-loss surgery since ’09. I still learn new things from group.

Okay, back to the point. Our Bariatric Physchologist is just simply, one of the best. He does a great job of “keeping it real” and going for the conversations that we don’t always want to start, or really never thought to.

He brought up a really fascinating point I’ve never taken a moment to think about.

Food pushers.


Good supporters.

I have each of these people in my life. I hear about these different people in the lives of my patients. We all have them.

The food pusher.

You know what I’m talking about here. The “you can have a little bit” and “it’s only a bite” and “I made it just for you.”

Here, take a bite of my high fat, high carb GUILT SANDWICH.

But maybe you’re the food pusher in the family?? This was something I had truly never thought about it. I admit I was convicted when I thought for a moment the foods I end up pushing on others. I don’t mean to, and maybe it isn’t too much or too often, but throughout the years as I’ve been working on weight-loss or weight-control in my own life, I admit I will make something and take it to someone else. Or buy something my husband would really like and put it in his snack cabinet but then ask him later how it was. Perhaps I live a bit vicariously through others indulging? Something I need to think about, and watch. I immediately came home and asked my husband if I was a food pusher and he didn’t really get what I was saying nor agreed that I was one. I’m glad I checked ;) 

How do we handle the food pusher? I’ve blogged a bit on that before. Practice very polite, yet persistent statements. Never use the phrase “I’m on a diet” but use phrases instead like “maybe after a while” or “I’m not hungry but it looks great” or “I had a big lunch but thanks for thinking of me! I’m sure someone will enjoy it.” and so on.

The Enabler.

To me, this is a bit different than the food pusher. The enabler is the friend that will go with you when you want to splurge. We all have that friend. When you just really want to go all out and get a burger and fries without feeling guilt or going all alone, you call this friend. OR….sometimes they’re the ones calling you and you’ve always been weak to their invitations.

I can think of enablers throughout several years of my life. Sometimes it was the very person I signed up to do Weight Watchers with! My college years were the worst in that area because there were so MANY friends ready to indulge with me at the drop of a hat. (See college photo below…) Thankfully most of us have jobs and families that it’s not as easy ;)


The big key here is being the strong one yourself.Chances are, even though they are your enabling friend, you are theirs too. And one of you has got to be the one to stick to their guns. Remind yourself of all the reasons why you want a healthier life and smaller body to move around. Then when your friend calls, remind them that’s what they want too and offer to meet them for a walk instead. It’s really what you both need.

Added layer of complication here – when your spouse is the enabler. Communication is KEY in consistently staying on track and not allowing your significant other to derail you. That’s a whole other conversation! 

And finally….The Supporter.

You MUST have a supporter in your life. If you don’t, go find one. Rack your brain on who you might use. Go online to Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass Support Groups. Find a WLS Support Group in your area. Ask a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker…or better yet, all of the above!

The supporter is just that. Encouraging you every step of the way. Someone you can text when you’re on your way to the gym and again when you leave. They respond saying “Yay! Great job! Keep it up you’re doing awesome!” You can call them when you are going on a trip or to a party where you are worried you’re going to have a week moment. They will be your accountability partner who will help you come up with a plan and who, once again, you can text while you’re at the party or on the trip.

Maybe they will even go with you to the support groups. Or they will take your phone call to hear about your support groups. You cannot have too many supporters in this journey and – in my opinion – it’s a total game changer when you’re surrounded by good support and faithful cheerleaders.

Be your own biggest cheerleader. Your own biggest supporter. But don’t go at it alone. Whether your supporter is a patient or has never struggled with weight a day in their life (rarely ever true) it just matters if they can cheer you through your journey.

And once again…ask yourself who you are to others? Are you the pusher? The enabler? Or the supporter? I know which one I want to be, for all people in my life. It starts with me. 

All my best in your journey to health,

Steph :)

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