DEAR STEEL ADVICE: How do you tell a very sensitive loved one that he or she needs to lose weight (when you don't have a weight problem)? You see them eating all the wrong things, and then they complain they can't lose weight. You feel that their health depends on it, but they don't think they are that overweight.
DEAR CONCERNED: You don't tell them. You are not the food police. Magazine covers and TV shows are blasting the latest spins on obesity. A fat person in today's society would have to be a blind squirrel to think being overweight is healthy. Food addiction and the frenzy of today's lifestyles are fueling the epidemic. If your sweet words could make another person lose weight, you could patent them and make a fortune.
When this person next complains about not being able to lose weight, use his or her cue to make suggestions about seeing a doctor, a nutritionist or joining a weight loss club. The stigma of being fat diffuses when it is removed from a personal relationship. The overweight person is the only one who can control what goes into his or her mouth.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: I have a sister who has been somewhat estranged from the family for many years with minimal contact. It was recently discovered that she had a baby. Nobody in the immediate family even knew that she was pregnant! We would all love to try and mend this rift as well as be a part of the baby's life. What do we do? Do we pressure her to allow us to visit? Phone calls or letters or emails?
-- SURPRISED NEW AUNT
DEAR SURPRISED AUNT: Your sister may be longing for you to meet her child and is hoping you will open the door. Send a heartfelt letter to your sister congratulating her on the baby's arrival and ask when you can see her and meet the baby. Use "I" not "We" in the letter. Other relatives may have been the epicenter of the estrangement and they should speak for themselves. Your sister may be hesitant to re-enter a family dynamic that caused her emotional pain. In the letter ask if you may call or email her, but do not rehash the past. Start slowly in your reconciliation efforts. Invite your sister to lunch and ask her to bring the baby. Keep old waters under the bridge and focus on your new role as aunt.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: email@example.com or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice. First Published June 25, 2013 4:00 AM