Happy New Year! I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas or at least a few days off the normal routine to reflect and recharge.
I had a conversation with my family about how our loved ones and acquaintances can make it difficult for us to stick to our commitments to eating healthy. Not only is this quite common, it can be one of the main reasons people struggle and even give up on their efforts completely.
This year I’m launching an online nutrition program for those who are ready for a fresh start and want to eat healthier, stay consistent with exercise, and heal their relationship with food. The goal of the program is to give people the tools to make and keep habits that will help them long term. A major topic in the program focuses on social barriers and finding social support to sticking to your healthy habits.
Food and eating is very connected with socializing and social events. Often, we think of examples such as family dinners, brunch with the girlfriends, wedding, birthday parties etc. In all these scenarios there are feelings of pure joy, feelings of guilt, or maybe even shame. As a person wanting to make serious changes to dietary habits in pursue of health and/or weight loss, eating in a social setting can bring anxiety. How can we keep to our goals and eat better in social settings when our friends and families are not eating healthy or want to change either? How can we choose healthy options when the only options are cake and ice cream? How can we enjoy conversation without the possibility of unwarranted comments on how we denied dessert in favour of fresh fruit. Our close friends and family can be great allies to our journey on becoming healthier. However, they can also sabotage either unknowingly or deliberately. Some can feel jealous of your progress and others may simply not understand your reasons for change. Please know that you are not alone first and foremost. Many try to change their eating secretively and might even avoid social situations where food is involved rather than talk about it. A large part is to avoid criticism but also to avoid the possibility of failing in public.
So what to do? Tell yourself that despite how many say they only comment out of their concern for you, your body is your business. If people ask, you can say you are making changes for your own health and wellbeing because it’s important to you, or that you want to be a good role model. You could also say nothing, that’s fine too. When in a situation where there is food and alcohol, decide beforehand whether or not you would have some and ask: will this bring me joy? Would this satisfy my hunger? How would I feel afterwards? Could I make a compromise and limit myself to a few things, and would this make me feel satisfied or frustrated? Focus on you and you alone. Never feel shame for your choices to eat or not eat, drink or not drink. Do what you believe is right for you.
For each day, think about a time when you felt pressured in a social setting that involved eating, what are some ways you can respond that you feel is a healthy choice? How do you feel about it? How can it affect your friends and family positively or negatively? Feel free to jot down your answers in a journal so you can refer to frequently.
Are social gatherings around food and drink give you anxiety? How have you responded to comments or actions by the people around you?
If you are interested in working on challenges to help you take control on your efforts to become healthier, check out my program. Info is on my website or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome 🙂