Psychiatrists and other medical professionals in the human behavioral field say that people who are overweight or obese tend to have friends and partners who are also overweight or obese, since people like to affiliate with others who are similar to them. In most cases, people tend to adapt to behaviors exhibited by those they spend the most time with, which can sometimes result in unhealthy eating habits and less exercise.
On the other hand, studies have shown that surrounding yourself with people who have the same goals as you can actually boost your weight-loss efforts. Spending time with friends you meet at the gym or with those who enjoy eating healthy foods can be motivating, whether its consciously or subconsciously.
Types of friends who could sabotage weight loss
The friend who encourages you to quit - These types of friends may seem as if they are looking out for your best interests, but encourage you to quit because the weight-loss journey “seems too hard” or “isn’t worth the effort.”
The friend who tempts you with “rewards” - These friends may acknowledge your weight-loss efforts, but often encourage you to take a break from exercise or “reward” you with desserts since you’ve been “working so hard.”
The friend you used to eat with - You may have one or more friends with whom you used to eat dessert, or with whom you used to go to buffets. As you begin to lose weight, sometimes these friends may become worried that you will begin judging them on their eating habits, which can cause them to lash out in defense or become unsupportive.
The friend who was also overweight, or who used to be thinner than you - As you begin to slim down, you may become thinner than a friend who was previously thinner than you, and is now heavier than you as a result. Sometimes, the shift in weight could also result in a shift in roles, which can potentially disrupt some friendships.
The friend who craves the spotlight - If you have a friend who constantly enjoys being the center of attention, then your weight loss may make them jealous, especially if your mutual friends are lavishing their praise and attention on you.
If any of these “friends” sound familiar, perhaps you can talk openly with your friends or give them time to adjust to your new lifestyle. Some of your friends may be understanding and become more supportive, or others may hold a grudge against your weight loss. If the latter is true, then you might need to find new friends that can appreciate the hard work you’re putting in toward becoming healthier.