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How do we get MIL to realise she needs to diet? (or should we just butt out?)

(9 Posts)
itchyandscratchy Mon 24-Aug-09 15:25:59

We get on very well with dh's mum and dad. MIL is 70 this year and starting to get a bit doddery on her feet. She is about 2-3 stones overweight and not very tall so she looks like a little barrel. She's also got high cholesterol.

Dh and FIL have nagged her over the years to try and get a bit of weight off for health reasons but she's very resistant. But they are also quite confrontational about it and that's part of the problem I think. Dh works in orthopaedics and says she will have to have knee replacements in the next few years if she doesn't lose some weight.

She's very defensive when challenged and will justify everything that goes into her mouth. And it's true, she does eat fairly healthily, but her portion control is non-existent to the point of obscene. She will load her plate until food is dropping off the edges and then have seconds... followed by pudding... hmm

She goes to yoga every week but always falls asleep! She used to go to WW but just used it as a meeting place and never lost any weight. I think the only thing that would work with her is for her GP to put her on a diet - she listens to him and somehow believes it's more official. But I know she won't go voluntarily to see him about it.

Dh is genuinely very worried and starting to get upset about it. Is it worth her seeing him upset to see if it sinks in? Or do we just butt out and let her get on with it?

Drusilla Mon 24-Aug-09 15:30:36

I think at age 70 I would butt out. Presumably she is seeing/has seen her GP re her cholesterol? If so then he has probably told her all about weight related health risks and you are not telling her anything she doesn't already know. If she chooses not to do anything about it than that's her call really.

Drusilla Mon 24-Aug-09 15:32:58

And I agree telling her she will have to have knee replacements if she doesn't lose weight is pretty confrontational! At 70 you have earned the right to live as you choose

MrsBadger Mon 24-Aug-09 15:42:08

she knows really
nagging won't help

I think it is a common problem tbh

MIL is similar but only 63 - she lies to the doc at the lipid clinic about her diet, makes a big show of using Benecol etc... then has apple pie and cream for pudding.
Won't exercise properly because she hates to put on a swimming costume etc etc, instead goes 'for walks' ie down to her friend's house to eat cake
Believes every convenient food fad ('Nuts have essential selenium' / 'I need lots of good fats for my joints') but refuses to look at the basic stuff like fat/sugar/calories.
I have caused fights in the past when she (eg) was extolling a Jordan's Crunchy-type nutty toasted maple syrup breakfast cereal and I read the back of the packet for fat/sugar levels and said she might as well be eating Hobnobs...

it worries me and DH, and makes us worry for FIL who is in rude health but very other-worldly and will fall to bits when she goes.

so no help here but I do feel your pain

itchyandscratchy Mon 24-Aug-09 16:20:32

Thanks MrsBadger - it's laughable really isn't it?

I do agree, Drusilla, it's up to her how she lives. Thing is, she's always the one saying 'Oh if only I can live long enough to see x [any of grandchildren] walk down the aisle/finish school/settled down...' I feel like saying 'well if you didn't stuff so many scones down your neck, or have your prawn curry plopping off the plate and all over your tray, you might have a chance!'

I kind of think that the only way she'll change is if she has mild heart attack or some other kind of health scare. I know that sounds awful, but some people never believe it will happen to them. It's like nagging a smoker isn't it? She won't lose weight until she actually wants to.

jybay Mon 24-Aug-09 16:37:06

I have patients addicted to all sorts of things - drugs, alcohol, fags, food. The thing they all have in common is that they will not change their behaviour until they have made a personal decision to do so. Nagging, no matter how well intentioned, may be counter-productive. I know it's really hard when you're worried about someone you love, but I think you have to leave her alone.

AMumInScotland Mon 24-Aug-09 16:37:19

I don't think you can tell her to lose weight, but if she makes comments like the one about "living long enough" you can always "remember" some article you were reading about how people with a lower BMI/weight/waist measurement live years longer. Which if you comment on in a "well would you believe that!" sort of way, rather than a "nagging" tone of voice, might get her thinking about it.

Winetimeisfinetime Mon 24-Aug-09 16:48:26

Even a serious stroke hasn't stopped my mum smoking. She was told by her doctor at the time how much it increased her risk of another stroke and did stop for a while but started up again. It made me very unpopular and got me precisely nowhere when I kept mentioning it and I now don't say anything. It is very hard to bite my tongue though when she talks about how worried she is about having another stroke.

She is someone who is unwilling to take any personal responsibility for herself - she blamed all sorts of things for her stroke but not the fact that she smokes heavily { and eats lots of saturated fats }.

I think you have to accept she knows the risks and that nagging her will not work, however well intentioned it is.

itchyandscratchy Mon 24-Aug-09 20:02:56

yes you are all right (which I suspected at the time of posting) so will feed this back (no pun intended) to dh and tell him to lay off. They are due to go away together in October (a theatre break) to celebrate her birthday and it would be awful if dh uses it to further his crusade!

Quite shocking to think that she has an addiction, but it's true isn't it?

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