Social Pressure | Have you ever consumed a meal you didn’t necessarily want to eat just to be polite? When you find yourself in a scenario in which you’re expected to eat something, social pressure can influence you to stray from your diet, and eat things you normally wouldn’t eat.
While it may seem rude to refuse unhealthy food items when they’re being offered, keep in mind that you, and only you, are accountable for your health and overall well-being.
In some cases, dealing with those who expect you to eat certain unhealthy foods, or just larger portions in general can be stressful — especially when you’re spending time with family members. During times you feel pressured to eat something you shouldn’t, follow these tips to help yourself stay in control and on track with your health.
1. Visualize yourself making good choices
Scientific research shows that if you visualize yourself doing something that has a successful outcome, you’re able to reinforce the neural pathways in your brain and increase your chances for success. For example, if you’re dreading going to a party because you know the host will expect you to eat meals made with unhealthy ingredients, visualize yourself enjoying the party, and calmly explaining to the host that you’re practicing health-consciousness. Imagine yourself feeling calm, relaxed, happy, and satisfied. You’ll notice that when you mentally prepare yourself in this manner beforehand, you’ll experience much more success at being able to avoid certain foods.
2. Eat a healthy meal beforehand
If you’re getting ready to attend an event that you know will offer unhealthy foods, make plans to eat before you go so you won’t be hungry, tempted, or forced to eat anything at the event. For example, eat a large green salad followed by a chicken breast and some steamed veggies to give yourself the nourishment and energy you need to sustain yourself throughout the course of the event. These types of foods will also provide you with a lasting feeling of fullness that will help prevent you from being hungry and experiencing cravings later on.
3. Bring your own healthy dish
If you’re attending a party or event where bringing food is acceptable, make your own healthy meals or side dishes and bring them with you to the party. In most cases, the host will be thankful that you contributed to the party, and you won’t necessarily be stuck with having to eat other unhealthy foods. Bring homemade salad and dressing, or crackers made with healthy ingredients and hummus dip.
4. Assess your options before digging in
If the event you’re attending is offering catered food, or food laid out in buffet style, take a moment to walk through and assess your options before loading up your plate. Look for salads, vegetables, drumsticks, and other whole foods that aren’t processed or made with man-made ingredients. Start off with a large plate of salad, then go back for various other whole foods that won’t add to your waistline. As far as drinks go, stick to water and avoid drinking sugary fruit juice or punch. If alcohol is being served, limit yourself to one or two glasses of wine or consume small amounts of liquor without adding mixers.