â€œLive a little!â€� â€œA salad? Thatâ€™s no fun.â€� â€œFries for the
table!â€� When youâ€™re faced with delicious but unhealthy food choices, peer
pressure can make it difficult to stay the course with healthy eating.
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â€œMost times, the people who pressure you do it out of love â€” they want you to share their food and the feelings that come with it,â€� says psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD. â€œSo itâ€™s hard to say no to peer pressure.â€�
it can be done. Whether youâ€™re trying to make healthier choices or just want
to march to the beat of your own drum, a little forethought is key.
Guess what? Your family and friends influence your food choices
Just like the flu, eating is contagious.
â€œWe eat like others because we want to be the norm. We want to be like the people we are spending time with,â€� Dr. Albers explains.
â€œAnd itâ€™s subtle. Studies have shown that people eating together even tend to chew at the same rate. They mirror the person they are with.â€�
That means if you hang with a crowd of indulgers, youâ€™re more likely to overeat in order to fit in. It works the other way, too â€” youâ€™re more likely to pass on that piece of cake if your friends do.
â€œWho you eat with has a dramatic impact on what you order and how much you eat,â€� she says. â€œBut if you become mindful of yourself and your habits, itâ€™s easier to avoid following what everyone else is doing.â€�
Join the mindfulness movement
â€œMindful eating is the polar opposite of peer pressure,â€� Dr.
Albers says. â€œYou use internal instead of external social cues to make
To be a mindful eater, set your intentions before you begin
eating â€” and then follow through one bite at a time. Stay present. Focus on all
the sensations eating involves: how food tastes and how it makes you feel. Mindfulness
can help you feel more satisfied and in control.
To do it:
- Decide how much you want to eat ahead of time. Be clear on your level of hunger and fullness.
- Follow through on your decisions, and donâ€™t apologize for or explain them.
- Focus on how the food smells, tastes, sounds (is it crunchy?), looks and feels in your mouth or in your hands.
â€œEven paying attention to your rate of chewing helps you avoid unconsciously slipping into what others are doing,â€� Dr. Albers notes. â€œLook at how fast others are eating, and try to chew more slowly. If you are aware of what you need, thatâ€™s going to make a big difference.â€�
Practice makes perfect
If you have a hard time saying no to peer pressure, practice,
practice, practice. Say, â€œNo, thank you,â€� and, â€œIâ€™m full,â€� in front of the mirror
or in the shower. Repeat them until you sound and feel confident.
â€œWhen they donâ€™t roll off your tongue and you hem and haw, itâ€™s easy for people to rope you in,â€� Dr. Albers says. â€œBut if you say no in a way thatâ€™s confident and assured, people back off.â€�
Then, take your act live. Enlist a family member or friend
to give you feedback on how you sound. The more you say no to unhealthy food
choices, the easier it becomes.
Be a leader
Before you go to a restaurant, look at the menu and pick out what you want. Then, when girlsâ€™ or guysâ€™ night rolls around, be the first to order.
â€œThe first person to order often sets the tone for the table,â€� Dr. Albers says. â€œIf you already know what you want, your choice is yours alone and not someone elseâ€™s.â€�