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Overweight colleague - how should I intervene more?

290 replies

chompychompychompchomp · 28/06/2017 10:52

I work closely with someone who in very overweight. She's a lovely colleague to have, works well and is friendly but is very unhappy at being so overweight. She's constantly trying out new diets to help her loose weight and has my full support. However, she has some ingrained misconceptions about food and drink which are inhibiting her ability to eat and drink more healthily.

For example, she raves about drinks like Oasis saying how drinking them is just like drinking water despite me showing her the ingredients and bringing her attention to how much sugar there is. I've explained that excess sugar will not help her to loose weight but she says it's nonsense.

She'll snack throughout the day on nuts saying that constant eating is helping to keep her metabolism up thinking that if she's not eating, her body's not metabolising food.

For lunch, she'll eat a salad laden with mayo and cheese saying that it's healthy as it's just eggs and dairy, ie.natural food.

We went out for a Chinese lunch last week as a team and she ate huge amounts as well as other people's leftovers. Other colleagues are getting fed up with her saying how she doesn't understand why she's so overweight and she doesn't listen to anyone's advice.

It's been left me (decided by team), as I get on best with her, to ask her to either stop talking about her weight or to eat more healthily. I'm not sure what to say to her without offending her. Help!

OP posts:

BurntBum · 28/06/2017 10:55

I think that you need to say nothing. Just don't engagement discussion about diets or change the subject. She knows full well why she is fat but is in denial. Until her head is in the right space there is nothing that you can say or do that will help. Upsetting her by asking her to stop talking will probably lead to her going home and comfort eating.


MrsJayy · 28/06/2017 10:55

It is none of your bussiness how much she weighs or what she eats if she says stuff like oasis is great then all you can do is say not really and leave it people talking about food and diets is dull just don't engage


BurntBum · 28/06/2017 10:56

engage in not engagement!


MrsQuim · 28/06/2017 10:56

Smile and nod!


PortiaCastis · 28/06/2017 10:57

Do not engage as it's none of your business


doowapwap · 28/06/2017 10:57

You simply cannot say anything to her about her weight. If she starts talking about it, change the subject or don't engage.

She's an adult, if she wants to do something about then she will. She knows why she's overweigh


Groupie123 · 28/06/2017 10:57

Wow it's really not appropriate for you to say anything. At my workplace you could be hauled over the coals for discrimination/bullying. Next time she makes a comment about her diet or weight, just tell her firmly that it's not appropriate workplace conversation


monkeywithacowface · 28/06/2017 10:57

I don't think it's up to your team to decide that you need to approach her with this. It is not a work issue.

Stop offering any advice at all, don't entertain the conversation. If she brings it up give a non committal "hmm" and change the subject.


Justmadeperfectflapjacks · 28/06/2017 10:58

Have you got a healthy book you could 'lend' her so she can read for herself? In black and white it won't be so easy to push the facts aside. .


MissionItsPossible · 28/06/2017 10:58

It's really none of your business. If she specifically asks you for advice then fine, but don't impose anything on her.


Coddiwomple · 28/06/2017 10:58

so tricky, at work she can get really offended and make a formal complaint against you, be careful!

I am not even sure how to ask her gently to stop going on about her diets, but apart from referring her to the "magic nutritionist who helped your friend lose 5 stones" - any nutritionist will do, there's not much you can do.


AHedgehogCanNeverBeBuggered · 28/06/2017 10:59

Don't say anything! She's obviously aware she's not eating healthily, but is trying to justify her unhealthy choices to herself and others. You'd have to be an imbecile in this day and age not to know that sugary drinks and tons of mayo are not going to help you lose weight.


AlmostAJillSandwich · 28/06/2017 11:00

If she's in denial there's nothing you can do. Tell her if she's so worried, see her GP, get referred to a dietician, maybe hearing it from someone with a degree whose specifically studied it will make her less selectively deaf.
Other than that, i'd honestly just have to tell her straight that hearing her complain repeatedly about her weight is becoming tedious and annoying for everyone else, since they can do nothing to change it for her and she's dismissive of people trying to help. If she's going to shoot down other people trying to help her, she doesn't get to sit moaning about it.


Peckwater · 28/06/2017 11:00

Completely inappropriate for you to intervene. In the nicest possible way, it's none of the team's business, and no one can police what she talks about, unless her conversation is distracting other people from their work, in which case your line manager probably needs to have a word about not turning the office into a gabfest.


chompychompychompchomp · 28/06/2017 11:00

I don't want to talk to her about her diet any more, nor do I want to be the person who tells her to stop talking about it but I know that other people I work with will take it upon themselves to tell her and I'm thinking they won't be as sympathetic. She's sensitive, will no doubt get upset and the atmosphere will be terrible, Manager isn't too sympathetic about it all either.

OP posts:

ThymeLord · 28/06/2017 11:00

Unless she specifically says to you "Please help me with my diet" then absolutely 100% keep out of it.


BreezyBreeze · 28/06/2017 11:00

Its a personal issue and not for work to sort out.

You all probably have habits that irritate her too.


monkeywithacowface · 28/06/2017 11:00

I also agree that she knows she is overweight and knows why. I would guess the constant justification she gives for eating crap is a defense mechanism because she knows she is judged. Losing weight in theory is simple; eat less, move more. But often people's emotional relationship with food is generally complex and fucked up.


Madbum · 28/06/2017 11:01

Back off ffs! It's nothing to do with any of you! It's not your job to police her diet or save her from herself, just ignore annoying conversations about her weight or change the subject.
This is ridiculous.


VladmirsPoutine · 28/06/2017 11:01

It's really not your duty. The idea that the team have nominated you to be spokesperson for her weight-related issues is incredulous. Just say nothing.


PinkHeart5911 · 28/06/2017 11:01

Well you can't go up to her and say " stop talking about your weight or go on a diet" There is no way to say that without being rude and it's really not yours or anyone else place to say that.

You just have to either smile & nod and try and move the conversation on I'm afraid and for crying out loud your office need to stop with the "advice"


FlyingElbows · 28/06/2017 11:02

There's nothing you can do, op. Overeating like that is like alcoholism, she has to be ready to stop. She's not and no amount of "encouragement" from you or anyone else will change that. She's fat not stupid. She knows very well why she's fat but it takes huge bravery and commitment to face the reasons why (which are deep rooted and often the same as the reasons why people are alcoholics, drug addicts, anorexic, bulimic or any other sort of addict). Just be nice to her, like you hopefully would be to someone who wasn't fat.


monkeywithacowface · 28/06/2017 11:02

It will go down badly if you do and it will be you she is upset with. Don't let your colleagues throw you under the bus here. If they want to say something and be harsh about it that's on them. Honestly, not your circus not your monkeys


Birdsgottaf1y · 28/06/2017 11:03

If a constant conversation is annoying others, then it's far to bring it up.

Don't mention her changing anything. Just gently ask her if she realises how often she is talking about food and swerve the conversation around to asking her to cut it down. This will depend on her reaction.

You might end up the fall guy, so be careful because she may have grounds to complain.

Stop giving her advice or engaging in food conversations.


chompychompychompchomp · 28/06/2017 11:04

The 'magic nutritionist' and the healthy recipe book are good ideas, thank you.

Thing is, our manager is also fed up. Any complaint she may make re.discrimination will be quashed by him as he's one of the people who has asked me to speak with her...HR too.

OP posts:
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