Blog: 3 Questions to Ask Your Patient Who Wants to Lose Weight

Apr 01, 2024

 When your patient says, “I want to lose weight. What diet should I go on?” here are three questions you should always ask:

  1. Why do you want to lose weight?
  2. What have you tried in the past?
  3. What do you struggle with the most?

Let’s look at these one-by-one:

  1. Why do you want to lose weight?

This is so important because you need to find out their motivation. If they're having a hard time figuring out their why, you can ask a question like this. “What do you want to do in the future that you can't do now?” So for example, maybe they would love to play with their grandchildren without getting tired, or maybe they want to feel confident in their suit, or maybe they would like to sit comfortably on an airplane.

But asking, “what would you want to do that you can't do now” is a great way to get some tangible results and find out your patient's motivation. Another way I like to ask this question is by saying, “how would your life be different if you lost 50 pounds?” Or “how would your life be different if you got off your medication?” These questions help the patient think through their reasons for wanting to lose weight beyond just losing weight. They need to have an alternative goal beyond just meeting that target number.

  1. “What have you tried in the past?”

This is a really important question to get an idea for if this patient struggles with yo-yo dieting and/or what type of diet system actually has worked for them and what type didn't work at all. A follow up question to asking “what have you tried in the past” is asking “why do you feel that it hasn't worked” or “why couldn't you stick with that plan?”

Because as we know, a lot of the different diets out there are very restrictive, and it can be very difficult to stick to long term. So asking them “why do you feel like it didn't work” is a great way to help you gauge the meal pattern that might work for them moving forward and what might not work.

So for example, if they tried intermittent fasting already in the past and they said it was just really difficult to eat within that window because they got really hungry late at night, then that wouldn't be a diet that you would recommend for them.

Within this context, I would also like to ask them, “when in your life have you been most successful with maintaining a healthy weight?” Because again, this gives you an idea into their lifestyle, into their schedule and creating a plan that's personalized for them that will work with their schedule and lifestyle.

  1. What do you struggle with the most?”

Is it late night snacking? Do they skip breakfast? Do they just really not know what to eat?

This will give you some direction into the areas that they need help with the most. So, for example, if the patient is really struggling with late night snacking, that gives you an idea that they may be under fueling or skipping meals throughout the day. Or is there some sort of emotional binge eating going on late night?

All of these questions give you more information to help you tailor a diet approach for the patient that would work with their schedule, with their lifestyle and be easiest for them to follow.

For more on this, check out this podcast episode:

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