How to Not Give Into Peer Pressure to Eat Unhealthy
Have you ever been out to eat with a group of friends and you have full intentions of sticking to your weight loss goals?
But then….someone gets apps for the table and when you pass on the deep fried mozzarella sticks you immediately get hit with a
“oh come on, live a little!! You can have just 1. You don’t need to lose weight, you look great!”
And while your friends may be well intentioned…it frickin sucks.
Because trying to be consistent with your weight loss goals is hard enough. Let alone when you have people pressuring you to do the opposite.
So what do you do in these situations? How can you go out with friends and not give into the peer pressure to eat unhealthy?
Before we dive into the How, let’s dive into the Why.
Why do people give you peer pressure to eat unhealthy?
9 times out of 10, the person dishing out the peer pressure wants to feel better about their own decisions.
Think about it.
The person screaming at you to have a mozz stick probably isn’t also your friend who runs half marathons & orders a side salad. It’s probably the friend who keeps saying time and time again they need to make a change and eat healthier…but never takes action.
Because of that, it’s hard to see YOU sitting there taking the action that they need to take. And they start to feel a little guilty about the fact that you’re getting something healthy and they’re opting for the fried appetizer…again.
So how do they make themselves feel better about not getting the healthier option? By trying to get everyone else at the table to make the same decision. If everyone else is doing it, they feel a little less guilty & ashamed about their continued lack of action.
But remember…it’s not your responsibility to make someone else feel better about their decisions. It’s ok to put yourself first and stick with the decision you know is best for YOU.
I was talking with one of my online coaching clients the other day about how no one bats an eye when someone walks into a work meeting with a big box of pizza for everyone but if you bring your own lunch from home it’s like you committed a crime. There’s immediate judgment & questions.
But just like how the pizza box guy doesn’t have to explain his choices to the group, you don’t need to either.
People want to feel better about the decisions they know are not in their best interest. Their negativity towards your choices are a reflection of them feeling bad about their own.
The fact that they’re peer pressuring you at all should leave you feeling confident that you’re doing something right. You’re making a decision that’s hard for a lot of other people. You’re putting in the work that people want to be taking, but can’t seem to take themselves.
If you’re being peer pressured, rest assured that you are on the right path and doing something good. You are strong and committed as hell and you should be really proud of that.
Now that you know why your BFF Jill won’t let you order your salad in peace, let’s talk about what to do when the haggling starts and how not to give into the peer pressure to eat unhealthy.
These are 5 actionable tips that can nip the peer pressure in the bud before it even starts.
#1 Plan Ahead
It is a LOT harder to stick to your goals when the evening is a blank slate. Why would you say no to the burger at dinner when you’re absolutely starving, everyone else is getting one and you don’t have anything else planned for the night?
Instead of giving yourself a blank slate for the evening I want you to think in advance what you’ll have at the upcoming social event. Get really specific! Will you have appetizers or will you not? How many drinks will you have? What will you order for a meal and how much of it will you eat?
Come up with a plan of attack of how you’ll handle the evening in advance. If you go in with a plan, you’re more likely to stick to it. Bonus points if you’ve already pre-logged that plan into your food tracking app too. Having it already logged can prevent you from deviating from the plan because let’s be real, do you really want to do the extra work of re-logging a meal? Probably not.
#2 Say no and change the topic quickly
We all know a few food pushers in our life. The loving people who just won’t take no for an answer no matter what explanation you give(*cough grandmas cough*). Instead, don’t give much of an explanation and be prepared to change the topic quickly. The longer an explanation you give, the more likely the person is to continue to try to convince you to “just have a little bit.”
Say no thank you and then quickly change the topic.
It can look like this:
Aunt Carol: Oh honey you HAVE to try some of this pumpkin bread. It’s my special recipe and it’s so good.
You: No thank you, I’m full right now. How have your house renovations been going? Your pictures on Instagram look beautiful!
Unfortunately just saying no often isn’t enough and people will try to fill the silence. Say no and then give them something else to talk about. Try to make it a question about something going on in their life.
People love to talk about themselves ;)
#3 Remove yourself from the situation
If saying no and changing the subject wasn’t enough, get yourself out of the situation. Fake a bathroom break, a water refill, or a phone call, just get the heck out of there.
Some people will just not take no for an answer and the only way to not give into peer pressure to eat unhealthy is just to remove yourself from the situation.
Be prepared for this and have a good exit strategy if you need to use one.
#4 Control your environment
Here’s the unfortunate truth. The more you try not to give into peer pressure to eat unhealthy, the more you’ll start to realize that there are some common denominators.
If there are situations where you realize you ALWAYS give in and are never able to stick to your goals, start reflecting back. Who is at those events? What type of events are they? Are you eating before you go or are you starving when you arrive? Is alcohol involved?
Start to identify the trends and similarities in the moments you fall off track. You may start to notice that every time you have a 4th drink you throw everything out the window. Or whenever you’re with your co-worker Jane, you seem to always get the fries instead of a salad.
Once you identify these trends or common denominators, control your environment. Stop at 2 drinks moving forward or go for a walk with Jane instead of going out to dinner. Start owning your own weight loss journey and setting up your environment in a way that makes it easier to stay the course.
If you control your environment better, you’ll have to rely on will power less, which will make you more successful overall.
#5 Ask for Support
If you feel comfortable doing so, ask friends, family, co-workers, etc to hold you accountable and support you. Before you even get to dinner or the party shoot them a text and let them know you’re on a weight loss journey and you would really appreciate their support in holding you accountable.
By bringing this up in advance they’re more likely to take you seriously and provide that support instead of trying to peer pressure you into that 3rd glass of wine. If they say they won’t provide that support, it may be time to reassess if you still want to attend the event or continue to prioritize this relationship.
Your friends and family should care about you and want you to succeed and many will be happy to offer you this level of support if you ask for it! Some may even join in on your weight loss journey or healthier habits and be grateful you brought it up. Remember, this sh*t is hard and many people aren’t strong enough to do it on their own. Be a positive Domino for someone. They may also be struggling with peer pressure and be incredibly happy you’re stronger than they were.
I hope by this point you’re feeling more confident about not giving into peer pressure to eat unhealthy.
My parting words to you are this: No one will care about your fitness journey as much as you…period. It’s up to YOU to hold yourself accountable and block out all the noise happening around you.
Be confident in your decisions and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. You are trying to live a healthier life and that’s something to be proud of! Hold strong and remain confident in your choices.
You got this and I’m always here to provide that additional level of support should you need it.