Advice for Co-worker

Updated on December 18, 2008
K.K. asks from Traverse City, MI
14 answers

OK, I need your help with something. I work with a woman who is overweight. She is 21yrs old and living with her boyfriend (which is good). She lost her baby at 5mos preg and her due date was dec 29. Now she is obsessing about this so much and stress eating so bad that she has put on 60lbs since she started working here 2yrs ago but another 10lbs just since last week. We are all very worried about this but she doesn't seem to care. She eats the wrong stuff and really doesn't understand what is good for her food wise. She is a very sweet person but something has to be done. HELP!!!!!

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answers from Detroit on

She is going to need to move past her loss in her own way. I don't know that there is anything that you can do other than support her emotionally.

Tough times.


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answers from Cincinnati on

Hi K.,

It sounds like this woman is dealing with a lot of things and the loss of her child just made everything worse. In all honesty, she probably needs to speak to a professional counselor that can help her explore her issues and why she turns to food for comfort.

It is not really about whether or not she knows what is good or bad for her nutritionally. When people turn to food for comfort is it about what tastes good and what makes them feel good. They will gravitate towards those foods that have historically illicited good feelings. Typically those are not your green vegetables and fruit.

It is normal for her to grieve the loss of her child. It doesn't matter when you loose a child, either before or after it is born.... the baby was still your baby and you feel loss. I can understand why this time of year would be particularly difficult. She is approaching a date that should have given her a baby to carry in her arms. She will have none.

You can encourage her to seek some professional help ... someone who can listen to her and help her sort through her feelings. You can listen to her yourself, offer support, and friendship. You can not shove down her throat her need to make better food choices or get her weight under control.

Yes, being overweight is dangerous. However, you can not make people change. Let me repeat... YOU can not make people change. People change when they want to change. When the benefit they are receiving from their bad choices is no longer stronger then the results of their bad chioces, they change. Changing has to come from within her. SHE has to want it. SHE has to see it. And there is nothing you can do to speed that process.

Before her eating gets under control, she has to deal with her emotional state.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

There is a great support site that really helped me through me miscarriage called it's not only for people who were misdiagnosed but for anyone with a loss. There are some great women on that site. That might help her to understand what she feels is totally normal.



answers from Lansing on

I think she probably needs someone to talk to, a good friend etc. It doesn't matter about the eating. she is shoving all of her feelings away with food. She needs someone to talk too about her loss, help her grieve and don't mention the eating....I think it will stress her out more



answers from Kalamazoo on

It sounds like she is dealing with her grief by eating. I would talk to her about her loss and let her know that it is normal to grieve for her lost child and that you understand that now is a sensitive time for her because of her expectations to be getting close to giving birth at this time (her expected due date), but mostly lend an ear. She probably needs to talk about her feelings. All part of the grieving process.
The eating problem may resolve itself when she is done grieving. If not, she may need some help with it and if she is gaining weight quickly, like you mentioned, there may be a medical reason. But as someone else said, I wouldn't mention the eating at this point.
I hope this helps.



answers from Detroit on

She might need grief counselling.

Or invite her out to lunch where junk food is not an option.

Otherwise it may be something she and her boyfriend need to overcome together. Maybe there's more to it than meets the eye. Could be she's having a hormone attack. Could be she's thinking her relationship is unraveling. That would be something they need to talk over together. After all he lost a baby too.
I don't think there's anything you can do, really. Be a friend is about all. If you remember HOW she was, and how nice one outfit looked on her, you could ask her why she never wears it anymore. When she says it doesn't fit, you could simply say how much you liked that outfit as it brought out the color of her eyes or just plain looked great on her. That might get her thinking that 'yeah I miss wearing that; I need to do something to get back into those clothes'. Or if you go to a gym, ask if they have discounts for visitor friends and invite her cause it's always more possible with a friend. Encourage her that she always looked like she worked out and maybe could give you some pointers.



answers from Saginaw on

Here is my best advice, the only person you have control over is yourself. People make bad choices every day with what they eat and how they take care of themselves. It is their choice though.



answers from Benton Harbor on

If you have an Employee Assistance Program at your place of employment, please refer her to that service.



answers from Detroit on

I agree with others that she is battling demons you have no ability to control. All you can offer is your ear and friendship. Not sure why living with her boyfriend and being pregnant at 21 seems good to you, but you know her better. The weight gain you said was a 2 year trend so there are probably other food/emotional issues going on and the loss has amplified things. If you can encourage her to get counseling, that would be great, but she's the only 1 that can take the step of finding how to love and value herself.



answers from Lansing on

You know K., I don't think her weight is really any of your business, unless she has asked for your help. People grieve differently and unless you've gone through a miscarriage and can empathize with what she's dealing with, I'd like to say to you to show her some compassion and when she asks for your opinion/help regarding her health, then, and only then should you give it.



answers from Detroit on

It sounds like she's handling her grief in an unhealthy way, for sure, but it may be all she can do at this point. Pressure from others WILL NOT HELP! People don't change unhealthy patterns until they feel ready and often get worse when they're under scrutiny and feel others are judging them, even if it's for their own good. They know deep down that they're handling things badly. Love and support for her as a grieving person will help her through this time. She's eating to fill an emotional void so anything you guys can do to help fill that void will be good. Maybe, down the road, alternatives might be made available in the form of a support or buddy system for better health (lunchtime walking?) where you work. I have been in Weight Watchers the last 13 weeks and love it, but I wasn't ready a year ago when 2 of my daughters joined. I was 100# overweight and knew it was bad but didn't believe anything would work unless I was severely deprived, and I couldn't face that. WW is not a program of deprivation. I'm actually having fun and have lost 33# so far! In fact,the program has just been improved so that we feel even less hungry! I get a huge discount thru my insurance, and some work places have discount programs too. If someone joined with her, it'd help. I go with my daughter who's lost 64# and is at her goal!

You have to communicate caring without judgment, and that's very hard. Obviously she has her own issues to deal with, and she's trying to survive. Like any addiction, overeating is self-destructive but it doesn't feel that way to the one doing it.



answers from Kalamazoo on

Maybe you could suggest a healthy new year? Maybe look at starting a watch watchers group at work or a herbalife weight loss challenge in the area. I have lost 30 pounds with the weight loss challenge. It's very motivating to have others to support you. Good Luck and kudos to you for trying to help someone become healthy. Is there anyone at work who lost a child, maybe they could shed some light. I am not sure how you'd approach the mental aspect. I haven't been in those shoes.

Best of Luck.



answers from Detroit on

Renee's response was excellent and I'm in complete agreement. Your friend has to get to the point where she wants to change - for herself. Before she'll do that, though, she has to work out all that she's going through.

I'm not a counselor, but I went through a "missed miscarriage", the depression of losing that child, and subsequent gorging. I had to have a D&C five days before Christmas (in 2002) to remove the baby that had died three weeks before, so I know how hard it can make this time of year, too. If she's open to it, I would be more than happy to talk to your friend and offer her any help I can. She can contact me via

Best of luck to you and your friend, and Happy Holidays. I sure hope she can find some measure of peace.




answers from Detroit on

She may need grief counceling.

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