Dieting as a team

Each partner needs to encourage – not discourage – the other in the fight to lose weight, improve lifestyle.

Dieting partners 370 (photo credit: MCT)
Dieting partners 370
(photo credit: MCT)
I am 40 and my husband is 42. We are both somewhat overweight and have been trying over the last six months to lose weight by eating better and exercising. I have been much more successful in shedding the extra kilos than my husband.

Both of us are competitive types, and I have the feeling that somehow he isn’t really happy that I have slimmed down more than he has. My husband sometimes even seems to try to “tempt” me by bringing home fattening cakes that I want to avoid. What can I do to resist the temptations and get him to meet our joint goal as a team?

 – V.E., Herzliya
Rachel Granot, a professional nutrition adviser who conducts workshops for individuals and couples, comments:
Weight-loss diets are complicated and difficult processes that require changes in lifestyle and nutritional habits acquired over years. Sometimes the home is the problem in meeting dieting goals. A competitive partner may unconsciously or even consciously thwart the other’s efforts to succeed.
A “little piece” of cake may be offered innocently to the more-successful dieter to get the other off track. Cooking high-calorie meals and sweet desserts, adding sugar and unnecessary fats “so they’ll be tasty” could be a competitive partner’s way of slowing down the other’s weight loss.
Usually the partner’s harm to the other person’s weight-loss plan is not planned and diabolical, but part of his natural behavior.
A person who is unhappy with the way he looks and frustrated by his failure to reach proper weight may feel threatened by the partner’s success at changing lifestyles and habits. He might also fear that she is becoming more attractive while he remains the same, posing additional threats.
One person may regard the other as a “policeman” monitoring what he eats and criticizing him when he fails. The other may react childishly and be forced to give excuses, lie or secretly eat “forbidden” snacks.
I advise that a couple in this situation make an oral “treaty,” or even one in writing, that states what they expect from each other and how much they want one to intervene in the other’s habits. Some dieters definitely need and want supervision by the partner. It is important in a family with children that they be made full partners in the lifestyle changes; if they help compose the “treaty,” all will be better off.
The best diet is one that stays in the background and does not become the major topic of discussion in the household. Proper nutritional habits are not temporary, for a few weeks or months, but a way of life, so it should be planned and applied properly.
My wife and I are in our 60s and finally came on aliya a year and a half ago after making 10 trips to Israel. We have retired and live on a modest pension from my years as a civil servant. We both have our health challenges and have been advised by our doctors to take certain vitamins and supplements daily in quite large amounts. My medical situation includes a gastric bypass five and a half years ago. My digestive system malabsorbs nutrients from the foods that I eat, so I have been instructed to take large amounts of supplements to offset my body’s inability to absorb. My wife needs them to deal with a complex medical situation.

As some of these are not available in Israel, we have to have them purchased in the US and try to get someone to bring them when they travel here, but this runs the risk of having them confiscated at the airport upon arrival. We tried to order them from a reliable US company and have them shipped to me in Israel. However, we were told we would have to get special permission from the Health Ministry to import pharmaceuticals – even for our personal use. Vitamins and supplements are much more expensive here, are packaged in smaller dosages and with fewer pills per package than in the US. These are not covered in the health basket and not even by my health fund’s supplementary insurance policy. Why is the ministry making it so difficult for immigrants like us?

– R.M., Beit Shemesh
Dr. Yoel Lipschitz, outgoing Health Ministry deputy director-general in charge of supervising the health funds, answers: The basic health basket includes a few vitamins and minerals that the insured can purchase at a subsidized price. Any Israeli who wants to arrange for personal import of vitamins and minerals for his own use should not have a problem. When he wants to important registered medications rather than food supplements, he needs to get approval via form No. 29 Gimmel. We don’t approve everything because the ministry has its own registration process, and to protect public health from wholesale imports of medications.
New immigrants have the same rights as any citizen and do not receive any preferential treatment or have any disadvantages in this field. We are not able to provide additional privileges to new immigrants by subsidizing imported drugs or supplements for their own use. Such a possibility is not easily applied and not egalitarian.
As a country of immigration, the health system here provides the best treatment to all its residents without connection to country of origin or the fact that they didn’t pay health taxes during the years before their arrival. I am sure that healthcare for retired people who moved to Israel and have a small income is much better than the corresponding treatment the elderly receive in the US.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel- Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to [email protected], giving your initials, age and place of residence.