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The Kindness Diet

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the atlanticA new study found that women whose friends and romantic partners were accepting of their size lost more weight than those whose loved ones were critical.

The greatest aphrodisiac, according to pop culture, is to be told never to change. Everyone from Bobby Vinton to Billy Joel to Bruno Mars loves you just the way you are. To the guy with the giant index cards, Keira Knightley was perfect. Kanye West, responding to the Internet breakage caused by his wife’s prodigious posterior, tweeted in affirmation: #Allday.

Real life is not always this body-positive. But a study recently published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests that, for women who do want to lose weight, hearing these types of accepting messages can lead to better success in dieting than being surrounded by people who point out their need to lose weight.

For the study, 187 women at a Canadian university were asked questions about their weight, ideal weight, and self-esteem. They were then asked if they had ever talked to their romantic partner or friend about their weight concerns, and if so, how that person reacted. If the friend/partner said something like, “your weight is fine,” that was considered a message of “acceptance,” while if they said something like, “you have a reason to be concerned,” or offered to help them lose weight, they were considered a contributor to the subject’s sense of weight-loss pressure.

The results showed that, for the women who were concerned about their weight, those who received supportive feedback in response to their worries were more likely to maintain or lose weight. Those who didn’t, gained.

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