PEER PRESSURE: “The social influence a peer group exerts on its individual members, as each member attempts to conform to the expectations of the group.”
Now we know what you’re thinking – most people view peer pressure as something related to drugs, smoking, or sex.
But what about food peer pressure? We see this all the time with our clients. Despite good intentions, they find themselves either overeating or giving in to foods they may not normally eat, simply because they can’t say “no thanks” or don’t want to draw attention to themselves by looking like a party pooper.
Not sure if you fall into this category?
See if you recognize yourself in one or more of the following situations:
- You are out with friends or work associates and you realize you are full, but the people around you are still eating…so you keep eating.
- You are out to dinner and everyone at the table orders dessert. You are no longer hungry or you don’t typically eat dessert, but you don’t want to be the odd one out…so you wind up ordering anyway.
- You are at a friend’s or relative’s house for dinner and you feel as if you are being rude by not finishing the food you are given…so you eat everything on your plate way past the point of being full.
- You are self-conscious that others will think you are wasting food (or you believe this yourself)…so you clean your plate.
Get the picture? Rather than listening to your body’s signals and stopping at the appropriate time or honoring your healthy lifestyle, you end up eating to please others instead. Not only are you asking a lot of your digestive system, you are also not giving your body the respect it deserves.
Okay, now let’s flip the above situations around.
Take a step back and notice how you feel viewing these scenarios through a different lens:
- You are out with coworkers and while everyone else continues to eat, one coworker has stopped but is still fully participating in the conversation and enjoying herself.
- You have company over for dinner and one guest leaves some food on her plate.
- You are out to dinner and one friend chooses not to order dessert and just gets some tea.
- When out at a restaurant, you notice that a friend does not finish the food on her plate and allows the waitress to take the food away (and put it in the trash), or she asks for a container to take the leftovers home with her.
Feel any different? Are you judging your friends for not overstuffing themselves? We are guessing the answer is NO. Here’s the thing: you need to stop worrying so much about what people think – especially to the amount that it affects your health. Get past this obstacle and see how much easier it becomes to regulate your intake of food.
Here are some strategies and motivating thoughts to keep in your toolbox:
Don’t be afraid to be honest. The simple statements of “I’m not hungry,” “I’ve had enough,” or “I’m trying to eat healthier” can work just fine. Practice this before you leave the house.
Remember, you are in control. If you wind up with a piece of pie, a bowl of chips, a bread basket, or leftover food in front of you, remember that you’re in control. Take a deep breath. You can always set the fork down, keep your fingers in your lap, or simply eat just a small portion. Most importantly, if you have room and you want to partake, go right ahead! Give yourself permission. Just be sure to eat slowly and enjoy every bite. AND, make sure it’s YOU driving the decision, not pressure from the outside.
It’s your body. What you put into your body matters. If the choice is between “wasting” food (or “waisting” it!), remind yourself that you don’t need to be a human garbage can. In lieu of leaving the table feeling stuffed and uncomfortable, feel good about the decision that you are taking care of your body, not abusing it.
So tell us, do you eat to please? Do you have some strategies of your own? We’d love to hear from you!