How to Get Help With a Diet or Health Change

Ready to improve your health? Here are two ways to get your family involved.

  • Maura Rhodes

1. Make an announcement. Tell everyone about your goal. Going public will help you stay honest and committed. “Write down what you want to achieve in the form of a contract, and sign it with your family as witnesses,” suggests John C. Norcross, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions ($14, amazon.com). “It may seem hokey and formal, but it works.” If you’re comfortable, you can also announce your goal on Facebook or tweet about it.

2. Ask for help—and be specific. Until you’re in the thick of a diet (or an attempt to quit drinking or smoking), you may not really know how your loved ones can best support you. But once you realize that, say, you’re most likely to veer off your diet when dessert is on the table, tell your husband that from now on, dinner needs to end with fresh fruit and that you would like him to provide it. “Asking family to give something up should be OK as long as what you’re asking is reasonable,” says Alyson Schafer, a family therapist in Toronto and the author of several books about parenting. “Just realize that you’re asking a favor. If your family isn’t willing to skip the nightly mint chocolate chip, try to understand and find another way to avoid temptation, perhaps by having everyone agree that it’s OK for you to leave the table early to take a walk.”