“Come on you have to try this dessert.”
“Don’t make me have dessert alone.”
“I think we should splurge tonight.”
“Are you sure you want to eat that? It is so bad for you.”
There is a lot of noise in the diet world to completely overwhelm even the savviest of women, but layered with everyone’s opinions on what to eat can leave you questioning everything put in your mouth. There is always a friend who is on a diet, off a diet, overdoing the sweets looking to take you down with her or shaming you on a night you decide not to worry about health. When you are trying to listen to your body, food peer pressure can be the last straw making you throw in the towel. Here are four important ways to withstand food peer pressure.
1. Strengthen Trust In Yourself
When you are confident in your choices and trust what feels good to you, nothing can sway you. If a comment sends you into a panic of self-loathing then it is time to look inside and evaluate your beliefs and fears. Trusting yourself makes you rock solid in your choices so it is easier not to react on emotion. It is not appropriate when people are commenting on your diet choices but it happens. You can’t control what comes out of someone else’s mouth but can control how you react. Do not engage. Do not get into a debate. Just smile and ask a question to change the subject. Food is around at least three times every day and at every function with friends and family so avoiding it is impossible. It is best to do the internal work so you won’t be affected. If you don’t have the right routine and are looking to feel more connected with your body the next tip is going to help you find your sweet spot.
2. Think Like A Scientist
Layer emotion on top of that internal distrust for a mix of disaster. Did you ever hear that phrase if you don’t stand for something you fall for everything? Well, in the diet world this holds true because there isn’t a perfect diet or answer to being healthy. You need to consider diets in the context of your life. Thinking like a scientist allows you to look at the whole picture before emotion sways you to make a change based on someone’s diet opinion.
As you go to dip your rice cracker in the delicious hummus someone comments the hummus is covered in oil it must be filled with calories.
Response With Emotion:
She is right it is dripping with oil. I don’t even know how much I had. What if I ate way too much and now I am going to gain weight? I knew I should have stayed away from the food table. I am so weak!
Stop yourself from scooping and eat the rice cracker plain. Question everything you ate. Suddenly feel bloated and can’t decide between shoving everything in your mouth because you already blew it tonight or not eating the rest of the night.
Response As A Scientist:
I know I listen to my body and stop when I am full. I love hummus, and I know if I feel deprived or deny myself it never ends well. I don’t know who this person is and feel sorry that she can’t enjoy a food without commenting on calories. Fat is good for my heart and helps keep me satisfied so I don’t emotionally eat or binge later.
Enjoy your chip, feel satisfied, and move on.
Experiments end with a conclusion reached with a degree of error and totally based on the facts without emotion. Next time you find a random comment or comparison throwing you off track, take a step back and ask yourself to go over the situation without emotion before you make any choices.
3. Honor your body
No one is with you 24 hours a day. No one else has to live in your body. If your friend is begging you to share a dessert but you know it will make you feel too full and sick then say no. If you want dessert but your friend does not eat it. If you want a steak while your company eats a salad, enjoy it. If you are not hungry at a party, gently let grandma down when she offers you her pie for the fourth time. If mom brings on the guilt for throwing out food when there are starving children in Africa, throw out the food and make a donation that will actually get food where it needs to go. Eating out of food peer pressure leaves you feeling full and uncomfortable. Finishing your plate does not feed the poor. Denying yourself food because someone else is not hungry will leave you starving and at risk to binge later. We will not always be on the same page with those who surround us, so make a choice based on where you are. Trying to please other people will throw off your natural hunger and fullness cues and leave you more confused than ever.
4. One moment doesn’t tell you the whole story
Imagine you are at a party. You feel bloated and know your period is coming any day. Let’s just say you are not feeling your best. This women sway in with a dress perfectly fitting her slender figure and wanders over to the dessert tray for cake and a brownie. You think to yourself how unfair it is that some people can be so carefree with how they eat and still look that amazing. You go grab a brownie and think screw it, may as well just eat the brownie because that will never be me.
Here is the problem with this scenario, just like there are times you want to finish the plate and other times two bites seems enough, you do not know people’s whole story from one moment in time. They may constantly bash themselves, have an eating disorder, be in a bad marriage, struggle with fertility, or have just lost a loved one. You are making the assumption their life is perfect and yours is not. Many times we think most people are out partying with tons of friends living the high life while we sit home eating ice cream watching bad movies on Netflix. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a monkey on his or her back. You do not want to trade your monkey for another monkey.
As you shift the conversation in your head to what is best for you, remove the emotion so you can make a choice without clouded judgment, honor your own body, and remember that everyone has their own story to deal with. Then food peer pressure won’t be a microphone screaming in your ear but rather white noise in the background.
This article was also published by the author on Huffington Post.