Food Enablers

I’ve been a fan of the Howard Stern Show for like 15 years. What people may be surprised about is that Howard is a health food fanatic and also a runner. He cares about his body and keeping fit. Robin is famous for her wacky fad diets (the maple syrup/lemon juice concoction and then the green drink fads). Well, there are two people on the show that do not care about their health–in fact, they LOVE fast food. Love is a weak word, I’d say more obsessed with it.

John Hein and Jason Kaplan are the most vocal about their love for fast food. In fact, they host a show on Sirius entirely about Fast Food AND they eat their favorites on air while they debate what is better. While it’s comical, it’s also a bit disturbing.

Recently Howard teased these guys because they sit in the back office while he’s on the air and have lengthy, involved debates about what fast food is better and where they should all go to lunch that day. These conversations can go on all morning long in preparation for the lunch hour. Then these guys go out to fast food together. Jason discussed at length about everything he puts mayo on.

Howard commented that Jason is “bigger than ever” and I believe that John is diabetic. Yet these things don’t deter them from eating fast food every single day (sometimes multiple times a day). What struck me as the most obvious is that John and Jason were totally feeding off each other’s food addictions. They discussed where they’d be eating and they would go together.

Food enablers are the friends or family that we share bad habits with. We ALL have friends who are the enablers.  These are the people that share our bad habits and feel content to indulge in the bad habits with us because it’s comfortable. We don’t judge each other, it’s safe and easy.

I’ve had food enablers in my life. I had one friend in my mid-twenties that I went clubbing with. While she didn’t really have a weight problem, she loved fast food. After dancing and clubbing Friday and Saturday nights we’d stumble to the nearest Wendy’s or Taco Bell at 2 am (or a Portland favorite: The Hotcake House) and eat a bunch of junk food.

Two of my closest friends have also been “enablers” but we’ve managed the work through that during my weight loss journey and our friendship remained intake despite my change in habits.


When Rachel and I were in high school I remember asking her “Are you hungry?” and her response was “Always.” Or I’d say, “Can you eat?” and she’d say “Definitely.” And we’d happily head over to Beth’s Cafe or Denny’s and squat for hours eating and talking. I still smile from the happy memories of those days. Were these bad habits? Sure. But Rachel was also one of my biggest supporters when I decided to lose 100 pounds and she knew that encouraging me to eat healthy and change my habits was how I’d be successful. She was a true friend that wanted me to be healthy. Our friendship survived my transformation as a result.

My other closest friend, Robyn, wasn’t really a food enabler but she struggled with her weight just like I did. We were both at our heaviest at the same time. While we didn’t encourage each other to eat badly, we both struggled at the same time. It was like having a partner in crime to complain to about weight issues. What I love most about how our relationship changed was that we both lost the weight and kept it off. Not only that, our relationship became about fitness. Whenever we hang out these days it’s usually a gym session together, or a fitness class. I love it and so does Robyn! We both get our workouts in and we can catch up and spend time together. It’s fun to have someone who encourages you to do “a few more squats” or add some weight to the machine. Healthy competition works.

Food Enablers aren’t necessarily evil people. They aren’t always setting us up to fail. Sometimes it’s just the dynamic of the relationship. We all have those friends that fit a certain niche. The friends that we usually go to movies with, the friends we workout with, the friends that like cooking and will happily bring freshly baked cookies to your house, the friends who like to party.

The hard part with Food Enablers is changing the dynamic of the relationship without losing the relationship. Not all of the friendships will remain intact but I think it’s important for health to be the priority.

QUESTION: Do you or have you had food enablers in your life?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

12 thoughts on “Food Enablers”

  1. wow this is so so true in my life, I have had a lot of roommates over the years who are food enablers, some with the same body issues as me and some without. I also have health enabler friends, if that’s a thing, friends who make good choices when we go out and it encourages me to do the same, or who ask me to go walking with them. My bf was a food enabler for a while, we both fed off of each other and had a hard time resisting temptation when together, but recently we’ve committed together to a healthier lifestyle and are trying to be more healthy enablers now rather than suggesting pizza or ice cream we suggest salad and fruit 🙂
    Robyn recently posted..My Grandma’s Pinterest

    1. I’m glad you could relate to this post. I think most people have SOMEONE in their life that either helps or hinders. And yes, I definitely think there are “health enabler friends”. I try to be that friend–make healthier suggestions, bring healthy foods to parties, etc.

      I laughed at your comment about your boyfriend and you feeding off each other. I am definitely guilty of that with my boyfriend sometimes. He suggests pizza for dinner and it’s hard to resist! Glad you two are making a commitment together to be healthy. Support makes such a difference.

  2. I think food enabling is what got me overweight in the first place! I was raised very conservatively with food. We NEVER ate out as a family growing up. When I went to college, I didn’t eat out much. Then my friends started influencing me and I started eating out way too much. Of course, I could always have chosen not to follow along, but that is hard to do! I eventually realized I needed to work my way out of those negative habits I had picked up from others and find a healthy, happy medium for myself. My hubby, unfortunately, loves to eat out and likes to eat the most unhealthy of foods. I fight against that all the time!
    Jill @ a Girl in Progress recently posted..Because I FEEL like it!

    1. Interesting! It’s almost like it was peer pressure for you. Was there a reason your family didn’t eat out? We ate out as a family like once a week? Either breakfast out on the weekend or dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

  3. Excellent post Lisa. When trying to lose weight, at least if you’re serious about it, you need to find a way to limit the influence of those food enablers. It doesn’t necessarily mean dropping them from your lives, just setting the right boundaries and finding ways to still enjoy their company without giving in to that old enabling pattern. It can be tough, but it’s vital for long term success.

    Trevor recently posted..7 Surefire Ways to Fail at Everything That Matters in Life

    1. Boundaries are definitely hard…especially when everyone around you is having FUN. One of the hardest parts of weight loss is realizing that your metabolism, your body, etc is different from everyone else’s. They might be able to eat whatever they want without a care in the world, but that’s not my reality.

  4. I can relate to this. When left on my own I eat well. But every time friends or family come into town, I over eat because I am with others who overeat. Last week a had two friends in town from out of country and we ate at the same dive bar (with incredible cheap food) seemingly every night. Luckily it did not do too much damage since I have really boosted my metabolism with workouts recently, so amazingly I did not gain any weight, even the one night where I ate over 2 pound of ice cream…But did not press my luck and went back to eating normal after they left.
    Carl recently posted..Green Coffee Bean Extract Study

    1. Glad you didn’t see the damage on the scale! I think splurging once in awhile is ok. For example, my boyfriend’s dad is visiting soon from Texas and we’ll all go out to dinner every night. I try and make good choices, but I do splurge a little. Thankfully I don’t see too much of a gain because I keep my gym routine intact!

      Thanks for your comment Carl.

  5. I LOVE the Stern Show, too!!
    Also, I know what you mean about enablers and then I read Marc’s comment, and thought to myself, that I am definitely an enabler to others at times. Interesting blog entry! Food for thought.

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