Question: “My diet buddy is becoming a calorie-counting freak. How do I get her to lighten up?”

Answer: “Before you give feedback, ask yourself what your motivation is,” says Ann Kearney-Cook, PhD, a psychologist and author of Change Your Mind, Change Your Body (Simon and Schuster, 2004). Are you honestly concerned about her health, or are you feeling threatened because she’s made healthy changes you haven’t been able to make? (Ouch, the truth can hurt, sister!)

But let’s put the soul-searching aside and assume she is, um, a freak. Kearney-Cooke suggests that you follow these four guidelines:

Have the talk in private (not in a restaurant or at the gym, for instance).
Convey how much you care about her.
Be specific (“I noticed you hardly ate anything at the party last week”); and offer to help her if she needs it.
Suggest she see a professional.

“Your friend may be developing an eating disorder. But there’s so much calorie confusion out there, she may just not know what a healthy diet looks like,” says Kearney-Cooke. “Gently suggest that she see a nutritionist or a therapist.”