How do I broach the subject that my sister is fat?

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  • How do I broach the subject that my sister is fat?
  • alpin
    Member

    This has been in my mind since Friday…..

    Last saw my sister back in December. She sent me a pic with her and her boys and I was shocked. She’s ballooned. She wasn’t exactly slim back in December, but she has really put on weight in the last 8 months and at only 5ft it really shows. I seriously doubt that I could lift her off the floor!

    She used to be a dancer. Super tiny figure.

    I worry now that with her two young boys she won’t be able to run about with them and do things that she’d like to do.

    Our mum ended up with type 2 diabetes and I fear my sister will go the same way. Mum constantly claimed that it was genetic as her father, brother and another sister also had it. I’m more of the opinion that it was brought on from being fat and lazy because her more active siblings don’t suffer.

    Mum died last year from leukemia, so maybe some of this weight could be attributed to that…. I know I certainly put on a bit of weight, but through not eating shit and moving more /getting my head sorted I’m now skinnier than I was 2 years ago before mum went into hospital. I know for me at least that through being in the hospital and London for months on end I ended up drinking more and eating out lots.

    She jokes about her fella playing badminton but does zero activity herself. I kinda feel that he should be encouraging her to be more active, but don’t trust that he won’t tell her that I spoke to him about if I were to contact him.

    Lots of her friends and cousins are podgy and I think maybe this normalises things for her.

    I’ve spoken to her in the past about being more active to lose weight and she uses the excuse that it’s not easy after having kids. I can believe this to an extent, but I know plenty of new mums who have dropped the weight gained through pregnancy and are slim and healthy.

    How do I best approach this without ostracising her, without her pushing me away (one of her “coping” mechanisms in the past when someone upsets her) and not making her feel like shit?

    Help, please.

    eddiebaby
    Member

    You’re a good brother for caring but I have no idea about how you’d go about this. The main thing is if you are worried about her, so let her know that and that even if it risks your relationship with her you feel you have to mention it.

    How do I broach the subject that my sister is fat?

    You don’t need to.

    She already knows and has enough problems already without you judging her.

    Could you ice “you are fat” on a chocolate fudge cake?

    ton
    Member

    folk who are fat know they are fat.

    so leave her alone. imho

    You don’t.

    My sister is obese (like yours 5ft ish) – she’s well aware she is and no amount me having a go will change that.

    tjagain
    Member

    Wot the panther and the big lad said

    Wot TJ, PP and our Tony said.

    BaronVonP7
    Member

    Maybe not worry so much about the weight, but gently investigate if there are stresses or circumstances in her life she feels she can’t control?

    Premier Icon duncancallum
    Subscriber

    Same as mine…

    Single mother over weight n whinges she can’t find a decent bloke….

    Won’t be told.

    So i don’t…..

    hols2
    Member

    Do like a former supervisor did in a meeting: “Yeah, so we managed to get a big-ass increase in the budget, excuse the expression Jess.” By God that was a miserable place to work.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    She already knows and has enough problems already without you judging her.

    This.

    Maybe ask her if she’s doing ok, if she needs to talk, or if there’s any way you can help or support her.

    Single mother over weight n whinges she can’t find a decent bloke….

    A bloke who is attracted to low weight and not personality isn’t a good bloke.

    If you really want to help her then move back to the UK, buy her a gym membership and offer to babysit her two kids for two hours everyday to let her get to the gym and drag herself back up to your standards.

    alpin
    Member

    So do nothing about a situation that is likely to get worse? Seriously? Don’t step in?

    I love her, but I also find it somewhat sad on her part.

    If I’m really honest I find it embarrassing.

    And she is no longer the bubbly, happy person she was a few years back. Some of this I would attribute to mum’s death. They were best friends. My sister even bought the house next door to my folks!

    I’m always surprised when visiting at the portions she serves up. And the extra side dishes she orders at restaurants. And the amount of crisps she munches. To be fair, she is very good with her kids in that they don’t get their hands on chocolate very often.

    I think she needs someone to tell her, and since her fella nor my old man seem willing to say anything then I feel it falls on me. I don’t want her ending up not being able to enjoy doing things with her boys, feeling shitty at the beach/hot weather, her suffering from snide remarks from others.

    @eddiebaby thanks.

    Premier Icon ebennett
    Subscriber

    You don’t – she won’t change because you’ve told her to, all you’ll do is look like a dick to her.

    My Father in law is obese and no amount of prompting from family (from gentle, subtle encouragement to exercise to bluntly telling him they’re worried he’s going to die because he’s fat) has changed his behaviour. A heart attack did prompt him to temporarily shift a good bit of weight, but he just ended up putting it back on again.

    IMO helping people with weight loss is a bit like dealing with an addict – don’t enable them but don’t try to force them to change, the choice to change has to come from within. Once they make that decision themselves your advice/help will be far more welcome.

    DrP
    Member

    Now this is actually a good and interesting question, as obesity is a major issue in teh UK and is fast becoming a bigger one.

    I’m not sure I agree with teh ‘don’t say anything’ answers, but also don’t ice a cake with ‘lose the gut, tubby’ on it…

    The hesitance to discuss the (really sorry..) elephant in the room is leading to obese children and such. But as you say, how do you broach it in a HELPFUL way.
    I guess the answer is to do it in the right environment, from a viewpoint of care, rather than judgement, and see HOW you can help address it, rather than just raising the issue.

    TBH, most people ARE aware and the need to change HAS to come from within, but (google motivational interviewing) if you are able to offer help/nudges/assistance to allow HER to address the need to change, then your job will be done..

    Good luck.

    DrP

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Our mum ended up with type 2 diabetes and I fear my sister will go the same way. Mum constantly claimed that it was genetic as her father, brother and another sister also had it. I’m more of the opinion that it was brought on from being fat and lazy because her more active siblings don’t suffer.

    Causation/correlation.

    Having diabetes can increase appetite and inhibit the satiety feedback that lets you know when you’ve had enough. It can also reduce your energy levels.

    In other words, diabetes can make you “fat and lazy”, just as much as being “fat and lazy” makes diabetes.

    Don’t step in?

    …and do what, exactly?

    “Look Sis, you’re getting really fat because you eat too much and it’s becoming an embarrassment to me. I’m only trying to protect you from snide remar…….Oh….erm…..Just sort yerself out , love”

    gobuchul
    Member

    Our mum ended up with type 2 diabetes and I fear my sister will go the same way. Mum constantly claimed that it was genetic as her father, brother and another sister also had it. I’m more of the opinion that it was brought on from being fat and lazy because her more active siblings don’t suffer.

    It is genetic. If both your parents have it then it’s something like an 80% chance you will develop it.

    The sudden weight gain can be a sign of diabetes. The increased blood sugars get stored as fat. It’s very possible she already has it and it hasn’t been diagnosed. She should get a glucose tolerance test.

    DrP
    Member

    Having diabetes can increase appetite and inhibit the satiety feedback that lets you know when you’ve had enough. It can also reduce your energy levels.

    In other words, diabetes can make you “fat and lazy”, just as much as being “fat and lazy” makes diabetes.

    Hmm..I’d have to disagree and state that obesity and a diet high in sugars, with a sedentary lifestyle etc is the main reason for developing type 2 diabetes.
    As such, quoting rare exceptions that break the rule (“steve redgrave is uber fit and has t2DM etc”) isn’t really applicable or helpful in the long run.
    ‘normalising’ obesity is becoming really problematic. I’m not saying we should shun or embarrass obese people, but it’s an unhealthy state, and should be offered help to remedy it. Acceptance it’s an issue is the first step,

    DrP

    stumpy01
    Member

    alpin

    I’m always surprised when visiting at the portions she serves up. And the extra side dishes she orders at restaurants. And the amount of crisps she munches. To be fair, she is very good with her kids in that they don’t get their hands on chocolate very often.

    This sounds to me like comfort eating and it’s probably the underlying cause of this that is causing her to comfort eat?
    It sounds to me like she is depressed – understandable after the death of your Mum.

    Perhaps it is this that you need to broach, rather than the weight issue. If she is depressed and can get that under control, then she will probably be in a better mental position to tackle the weight further down the road.

    Premier Icon bikebouy
    Subscriber

    Wot TJ, PP and our Tony said.

    And wot Nobeer sed..

    MrSmith
    Member

    Just accept it as the new norm and let her be fat, any desire to change that has to come from her. (unlikely though as being obese is socially acceptable)

    we are a nation of obesity, get used to it.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Interesting one – close family member is also petite and has weight issues. Her mother and brother both have developed type 2 diabetes, and I’m concerned she’s at greater risk of going the same way.

    I agree that “confronting” is not the way to do it, but it’s finding the right way to get the subject out there and trying to encourage a shift in behaviour and/or deal with any underlying causes.

    No problem with people being bigger than so-called ideal, but the alleged obesity epidemic is storing up huge future health, care and cost issues that society is going to struggle to deal with

    finbar
    Member

    Could you go for a gentle bike ride or walk with her? Maybe encourage her to do Parkrun with you or something? Take her out for lunch somewhere really healthy? Don’t mention her weight, just maybe show her that being active/eating healthy can be nice and fun too.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    I’m with you OP, you know your sister better than we do. Can you approach the subject as “I am concerned for your health and wellbeing, is there anything i can do” or words to that effect.  Good job for caring.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    And she is no longer the bubbly, happy person she was a few years back.

    This is likey something to do with it.

    Simply telling her she’s fat is unlikely to help. She knows. She’s probably going into shops and buying size 20 clothes or whatever, so it’s not hard to figure out. You seem to be under the impression that all fat people are in denial, or are just too stupid to figure it out themselves, and if you can just tell them they’ll go ‘oh shit, I never noticed, thanks!’ and start exercising and eating well.

    Often, depression is a source of unhealthy eating, and it also makes you not want to exercise. The idea that a miserable depressed person can simply throw on a pair of running shoes and run away their blues is not practical in most cases (although it works for some).

    Ask her how you can help – don’t just tell her she’s fat, because I guarantee she already knows and will feel WORSE afterwards.

    doris5000
    Member

    stumpy makes a good point.

    There’s a great chapter in Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be A Woman’ about comfort eating and getting fat. Saying it’s often not just ‘letting themselves go’ etc, but low-level addictive/self-destructive behaviour for women who just couldn’t let themselves, say, lose the plot on booze, abdicate their parenting responsibilities and then **** off to rehab in a foreign country (as my friend’s husband has spent the last 2 years doing, safe in the knowledge that someone else will pick up the pieces). Definitely worth reading.

    “Overeating is the addiction of choice of carers, and that’s why it’s come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all the addictions. It’s a way of **** yourself up while still remaining fully functional, because you have to. Fat people aren’t indulging in the “luxury” of their addiction making them useless, chaotic, or a burden. Instead, they are slowly self-destructing in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone. And that’s why it’s so often a woman’s addiction of choice. All the quietly eating mums. All the KitKats in office drawers. All the unhappy moments, late at night, caught only in the fridge light.”

    cchris2lou
    Member

    I think people getting fatter in the UK is the new normal.
    We are not slim but are always a bit shocked when family from the UK come and visit.
    Sadly France is going the same way.
    La mal bouffe is everywhere.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Ask her if she has her will up to date with suitable provisions for the kids ?

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    I think she needs someone to tell her

    Do you honestly think she doesn’t know?

    “Hey sis, are you aware you’ve put on weight?”

    “Oh my god, thank you, I had no idea!”

    And she is no longer the bubbly, happy person she was a few years back.

    To my mind, this is the thread you want to be pulling. You’ve noticed she hasn’t been herself lately, is she OK?

    Loss of her mother, depression, comfort-eating… maybe a visit to the GP is in order.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    “Hey sis, are you aware you’ve put on weight?”
    “Oh my god, thank you, I had no idea!”

    The OP is worried about his sister, so that’s where the conversation should begin:

    “Are you okay sis? I’m really worried about you. You’ve seemed down ever since mum’s death. Is there anything I can do to help?”

    Premier Icon hondicusp
    Subscriber

    Don’t say anything to her.
    She will be very aware that she had put on weight, what are you saying to accomplish by pointing this out to her? If she is putting on weight it’s because of other issues, for example being constantly knackered with kids or being stressed or similar, are you going to sort these problems out for her? It’s unlikely to be her just being a lazy greedy huts, things are more complex and nuanced than that

    easily
    Member

    Cougar has the answer.
    Your sister’s weight is a symptom of her unhappiness, not the cause. Talk to her, see if you can find out what is making her unhappy, offer emotional support as well as practical help.

    eddiebaby
    Member

    Good call Cougar.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    Helpfully pointing out the blindingly obvious to someone who is perhaps already at a bit of a low point isn’t actually going to be helpful at all.

    Everyone is different but putting on weight can often be a symptom of other underlying issues, not necessarily depression or stress but it could well be related. From what you’ve said there appears to have been a lot of ‘stuff’ going on in her life lately, you adding to her self-consciousness with a well intentioned but potentially insensitive comment is more likely to make things worse rather than better for her…

    If you’re genuinely concerned ask her how she’s getting on and if she needs to talk or any other form of support.

    Although having said all of that OP TBH you seem a bit of a judgemental sort, and maybe prone to the odd assumption? Even if some sort of intervention is in order, are you the right one to do it?

    Perhaps it’s better if you just bite your tongue and let her get on with things her own way. Do you have the sort of relationship where she looks to you for that emotional support normally?
    I know my own sisters wouldn’t expect me to be much use as moral/emotional support and would be pretty upset if I felt the need on their weight…

    alpin
    Member

    ^^^ you’re right, I am quite a judgemental git at times and I know that I lack a large dose of empathy.

    Just spoken to my aunt, my mum’s closest sister, and she has pretty much told me what the majority of people here are saying.

    She’s aware of her situation. She doesn’t need me telling her that I’m concerned /think she should change. The eldest starts full time school in September and she has told people that that is the time she is going to do something about it…. She’s finding it hard to find time with two kids around her feet.

    I’m back in the UK in October. I’ll broach the subject then.

    Cheers people…. 👍 😘

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    She’s finding it hard to find time with two kids around her feet.

    I know it’s a massive cliche to say ‘you don’t have kids you don’t understand’ but it really is mentally incredibly hard trying to live life with kids demanding constant attention all the time both directly and indirectly. The mental load of child care is huge.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    I’m back in the UK in October. I’ll broach the subject then.

    Jesus No!

    Don’t ‘broach’ anything. Just ask her how she’s getting on and listen to her answers…

    As a bloke prone to “providing solutions” myself I have learned over the years that offering helpful suggestions isn’t always the best way to help. Just being a receptive pair of ears and being ready to offer a little positive reinforcement/encouragement and what small assistance you can is often enough.

    Some things people just need the time and space to work through on their own, while their loved ones smile and nod and don’t tell them what to do…

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