Declining health is a serious subject, but too often, losing weight is made the core target of improvement.
But when it comes to implementing weight loss strategies, there are absolutely do’s and don’ts to follow, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
The Redditor, who has since deleted their account, was worried about their teen sister, who was overweight and likely to develop diabetes during her life.
But when their mother criticized them for their methods of helping their sister improve her diet, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they had meddled too much in their sister’s life, despite their good intentions.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for secretly feeding my sister vegetables?”
The OP was worried for their sister and the state of her health.
“My sister is 16 and heavily overweight. She’s 5’2 or 5’3 but 170+lbs. She’s already pre-diabetic and if she doesn’t lose weight pronto, she’ll have to go on metformin.”
“Diabetes runs in our family (my mom and grandma both have it) and as it is, she already has really low energy levels and clumps of her hair are falling out!”
“I’m really worried about her and have tried to introduce her to various forms of ‘fun’ exercises (like swimming, those weird indoor cycling classes with the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and the lights and s**t, 30-minute walks, wall climbing) but she absolutely HATED it all.”
“The other thing is, she doesn’t eat any fruits or vegetables, except maybe potatoes, and bananas when they’re in ‘acceptable’ forms like in chocolate-banana smoothies or in banana bread.”
The OP decided to make one other attempt to help their sister.
“As a last-ditch attempt, a couple of days ago, I decided to just take over the family menu and feed her dishes that secretly have vegetables in them.”
“For breakfast, I made green smoothies but added lots of (sugar-free) matcha to explain the ‘green’ color and mask the flavors of the fruits and veggies.”
“I made ‘cheese’ sauces out of pumpkin and carrots and flavored them with nutritional yeast.”
“I mixed crushed cauliflower into fried rice, etc etc.”
“I have to lie about them because even if it tastes good, if she knows there are fruits or veggies she doesn’t like in the dish, she’ll immediately stop eating it.”
But then their mother found out and was furious.
“It was going well until our mom found out the dishes secretly had vegetables in them.”
“She started this whole argument about how it was ‘unethical’ to lie to my sister about what we were feeding her, and it escalated into a yelling match where I told my mom she clearly wasn’t worried enough about my sister’s health and that she knew nothing about nutrition (she thinks apple pie is healthy???).”
“My mom has banned me from preparing the meals and is guilt-tripping me for lying, but I really think I was making an honest effort to help.”
“I feel bad for yelling at my mom but I dunno, was I really such an a**hole for lying about the vegetables?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some indicated questions the OP’s sister needed to ask her doctor, based on her symptoms.
“I was about to mention hypothyroid and PCOS.”
“I had very similar issues as her regarding weight gain, hair loss, and high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and nothing helped until I got blood tests that showed I had both PCOS and hypothyroid. I went on meds, and my blood sugar and cholesterol levels went back to normal, my weight started plummeting back down to normal, and my energy levels went way up.”
“(And energy levels are a huge factor in this; these disorders can trigger depression, and also a constant feeling of exhaustion that is an absolute b***h, and can make keeping up with a diet and exercise plan incredibly, incredibly difficult, so I would hold off on jumping to the conclusion that she’s just being lazy and surly.)”
“(And for the final insult to injury, the slowed metabolism plus hormone and insulin imbalances caused by PCOS and/or hypothyroid can make it virtually impossible to lose weight).”
“As for the avoiding fruits and veggies thing, that honestly sounds like way more than just being a fussy eater, and might be linked to a psychological issue. I’d honestly recommend she seek out a therapist.” – GamersReisUp
“I have hypothyroidism and PCOS (usually related to insulin resistance and weight gain. For some odd reason, I have neither, though that’s pretty rare).”
“It was at its worst when I was 16, since that’s about when I went through puberty and the shifting hormones made everything so much more drastic. I was constantly exhausted, would need to take three naps a day just to feel functional, and any form of exercising (even just walking around the backyard to feed the horses and dogs) left me out of breath and miserable.”
“OP, if there’s any chance it’s her thyroid, sneaking her veggies won’t help. She needs medication.”
“I now take a tiny pill each morning and my thyroid levels are exactly where they should be. It doesn’t help the PCOS though. Metformin can. Metformin helped to balance my hormones, unfortunately, I had to stop taking it because I had a reaction to it.”
“Metformin isn’t just for diabetes, and in some cases of PCOS (like mine), a dietary change won’t ‘fix’ the problem. If you really want to help her, get her to go to a doctor and have a blood workup done. I wasn’t able to until I was 19, and I resent all those years I spent needlessly suffering.” – DreadfullyBIzzy
“Ask about PCOS and Cushing’s also. They both can cause weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and insulin resistance. They can also have an effect on mental health and cause physical pain.”
“The not eating veggie issue definitely needs to be addressed regardless but physical issues need to be addressed for there to be a chance of losing weight also.”
“PCOS makes it notoriously hard to shed weight even if you’re doing everything right.” – TheDoorInTheDark
“Tricking her into eating fruits and veggies isn’t going to actually help her down the road. In fact, if it is helping her, when she is no longer being provided sneaky meals, she will continue to eat what she thinks she was eating and then become worse.”
“It was well-intended but poorly thought out. Your family sucks for obvious reasons that don’t really need explaining. They need therapy.”
“Healthy food for thought, though: not only would your mother have to confront her own eating to make progress, but she would also have to come to terms with the health situation of the family close to her afflicted by the same disease. That’s heavy s**t. No progress will be made by one well-intentioned family member here.” – mundanemama
Others said the OP was wrong for being misleading about the food their sister was eating.
“Look up an eating disorder called ARFID (Avoidant and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). It sounds a lot like your sister has it. I have it too and if a food that isn’t on my safe list is put in my food, I will throw it up as soon as I realize it is there.”
“We are talking about an eating disorder in that psychology makes the brain equate foods that are not on the safe list with toxic or rotted. Basically, if you eat it, you will be sick, or even die.”
“The stress will make you feel sick, which reinforces the psychological condition. Get her checked for ARFID with a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders.”
“YTA, lying about what you put in someone’s food will destroy trust. You have good intentions but terrible execution.” – Desert_Fairy
“YTA. Yes, your sister has serious health problems. But she is almost an adult on her own, and you are not her parent. I don’t understand why you are acting like she’s five and you are her mommy.”
“I have a sister who is 2 years older than me, and if she was trying to force her way into medical appointments with me, trying to control what I ate (even if I was overweight), trying to force me into exercise classes, I would resent it to the point where once I was able to move out of the house, I would go no contact with her.”
“That’s the road you are heading down if you don’t stop trying to parent someone who is going to be an adult (i.e. your PEER, not your CHILD) in two short years.”
“Let me put it another way. Imagine if instead of being a sibling you were a boyfriend, and this was posted in the “Relationships” subReddit by your sister, and she wrote that her boyfriend controls what she eats, preps her food and she found out he’s been lying to her about what is in it, he demands to be involved in her doctor’s appointments, and tries to force her to exercise.”
“Even if she was overweight, everyone would respond by saying there are red flags everywhere, her boyfriend is clearly abusive, and she can lose 160 pounds immediately by dumping his a**.” – ductoid
“YTA. It sounds like your sister might have PCOS since that can cause pretty much all of the problems you mention especially hair loss. If she does, then she needs to see a doctor and get an official diet plan. All the veggies in the world won’t help if it’s her own body turning against her.”
“She needs understanding and a medical assessment, not body shaming and lies about food.” – CathrinFelinal
“I know you meant well, but YTA. Unless she has some sort of developmental disability, at 16, your sister is more than old enough to decide what she is eating.”
“Your mother is right, it is unethical to feed your sister things that she does not want to eat by sneaking them into her food.”
“I assure you that she is 100% aware of her size, and unless and until she decides that is something she wants to change, it isn’t going to change.”
“Long-term, you might want to consider the fact that if or when your sister figures out what’s going on, she’s going to lose trust in you.” – Shandrith
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update:
“I really didn’t expect my post would blow up like this. I just want to emphasize that I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, I just listen to what the doctor + nutritionist says during the monthly checkups and take that as fact, so thank you so much for pointing several things out. I will try to be more self-informed in the future.”
“I’ve taken note of her possibly having ARFID (Avoidant and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), thyroid problems, or PCOS and will try to get my mom to get her to a therapist as well as a doctor, thanks very much for bringing these up.”
“Also, my mom is really hard-headed but she’s still trying, I feel bad that I’ve made such a horrible impression of her. She has type 1 diabetes that she has to manage on top of her job and taking care of us 2 kids so please don’t say she’s terrible.”
“Also, everyone asking me for my recipes can check my comments, I made a comment on this post detailing how I did the cheese sauce and stuff. Thank you very much for your suggestions, I really appreciate them.”
While the subReddit could understand that the OP had good intentions and was trying to help their sister, they could not agree on the methods by which they had tried to help.
On the one hand, most of us could use a few more servings of vegetables in our diet each week. But on the other hand, lying to someone about what they are eating is fundamentally terrible, especially where a food allergy, a psychological disorder like ARFID, or an autoimmune disorder is concerned.