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Jane Bates: Anyone on the wagon should be cheered on, not dragged down

If a friend is trying to improve their health by going on a diet or giving up alcohol offer encouragement and support, don’t try and drag them down, says Jane Bates

If a friend is trying to improve their health by going on a diet or giving up alcohol offer encouragement and support, dont try and drag them down, says Jane Bates

They should be rounded up and taken to a dreary hotel beside a roundabout, like people on a speeding awareness course, my friend said. And they should be given a teaching session about manners. And fed entirely on NHS biscuits.

NHS biscuits! I wondered what these people had done to deserve such a punishment.

My friend had purely and simply had enough. After a successful Dry January and feeling much better for ditching the drink, she decided to keep February dry as well. Having fallen into the glass-a-night habit, as indeed had I, we agreed that we have more energy, look less pasty and sleep more soundly since giving up

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If a friend is trying to improve their health by going on a diet or giving up alcohol offer encouragement and support, don’t try and drag them down, says Jane Bates


Picture: iStock

‘They should be rounded up and taken to a dreary hotel beside a roundabout, like people on a speeding awareness course,’ my friend said. ‘And they should be given a teaching session about manners. And fed entirely on NHS biscuits.’

NHS biscuits! I wondered what these people had done to deserve such a punishment.

My friend had purely and simply had enough. After a successful Dry January and feeling much better for ditching the drink, she decided to keep February dry as well.  Having fallen into the glass-a-night habit, as indeed had I, we agreed that we have more energy, look less pasty and sleep more soundly since giving up alcohol.

None of their business

So far so good. But will other people leave us alone? Not a chance. You must be pregnant, they say to her, as though it’s any of their business.

There are also the hints about addiction. ‘Did you have a problem?’ another friend was asked. ‘Can’t you just have one?’ they say. Most of us are not dependent, we have just fallen into bad habits.

It is the same if you are trying to lose weight. Just one slab of cake won’t spoil the diet, people say, but you know it will because dieting is as much about core mentality as calories.

When we are trying to improve our health, surely a true friend should encourage and support, not drag us down. Otherwise it’s the hotel. By the roundabout. And the NHS biscuits.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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