Being on a diet is not the easiest thing to do. Choosing to start, committing to the process and learning the ins and outs is difficult. Hopefully you’ve got a great support system in place who is rooting for you to succeed! But even with support in your circle it can be difficult to make choices that adhere to your plan while you are out being social.
The reality is that people can be unsupportive of your health and wellness choices for various reasons and they can, intentionally or not, put you under the peer pressure of “just one bite” more often than you like. So what do you do when you’re faced with these situations?
Phrases to use
It helps to come equipped with a game plan if you’re worried about peer pressure on your diet. Having some ready-to-go phrases to deter well-meaning food pushers will boost your confidence in those situations.
“No thank you. Maybe next time!”
“Wow that looks great! I’ll pass right now but I’ll take some home.”
“I’m focusing on eating healthier so I’m going to eat this instead.”
Practicing these phrases out loud is important, even if you feel silly! One piece of advice we’d give is to avoid the “I can’t eat that” phrase. This will cause people to ask “why” then you fall into the trap of others asking you to justify your choices, which is not something you need to do.
Food Specific Strategies
If you’re going to a potluck style get-together, bring a dish or two that allows you to enjoy the food situation and stay on-track while minimizing the peer pressure. If you are eating out at a sit-down restaurant order off menu. You can ask for no oil and ask for dressing and toppings on the side. If you’re at a restaurant with big portions ask for a take-out box up front and put away half your meal before you start. One of my favorite things to order when I eat out is a grilled steak, no butter, and a baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar on the side. Most restaurants will accommodate your requests, it’s just a matter of asking!
Change the Conversation
Focus on health. Sometimes our friends and family can balk at the word ‘diet.’
“You don’t need to go on a diet.”
“Why on earth are you on a diet? That sounds miserable!”
“Just have some cheesecake, you know it’s your favorite.”
Instead change the conversation:
“I’m choosing to change my diet for some personal health reasons.” “I really am focused on my health right now and watching what I eat.” Changing the conversation to health versus diet/losing weight can change the way people perceive your decisions.
“I know you don’t understand, and that’s OK.” Being OK with their discomfort is… OK. You are not under any obligation to make someone feel comfortable with your choices and goals when it comes to diet and exercise.
Positive Self Talk
You know when you go into a situation and you intend to handle things one way but then you do the complete opposite of what you wanted? Yeah, us too. Then you feel OK for a second, satisfied in that moment, then afterward the guilt hits you…
Repeat after me: “I am more than the sum of my mistakes.”
It’s so true. Your one slip up does not define your overall success or who you are as a human. It does not define your worth or make you less worthy of achieving your goals.
Practicing positive self-talk on a regular basis will help you slowly believe what you are telling yourself. This might be a mantra that you repeat in the morning, or have a note written on your bathroom mirror in the morning. Some ideas are: “I am capable of achieving my goals.” “I am a successful and disciplined individual.” “I will make decisions today that move me toward my goals and benefit my health long-term.” You can also search the internet for a plethora of ideas!
If you do give into peer pressure, recognize that you aren’t the first and only person who has. Recognize getting off of your diet for one day is not the end of the world.
Forgive yourself for your mistake, then move on. The next decision you make will be in favor of your goals. Don’t starve yourself or punish yourself with exercise. Begin anew the next day or the next meal with better choices that are in favor of your goals.
What about the ‘peer pressure’ situation made you decide to go off of your diet? Think back: was it a comment from a friend, family member, or stranger? Was it a certain food that you know you have a hard time resisting? Whatever it may have been, it’s important to take a step back and identify what about the situation you were in made you veer away from your diet goals. Identifying this will help you handle future situations more successfully and turn your slip up into a learning experience.