Is peer pressure impacting on your health?

I was shocked to find myself justifying why I wasn’t taking a piece of cake – can peer pressure and ‘fitting in’ make us fat?

Back to work after a six week holiday, we had training days which means break and lunchtime food and drink is provided (Yey). I am extremely lucky to work where the healthy choices are easy to make. However there was cake, and contrary to popular belief I really had no inclination to want to consume sugar. I wasn’t trying to deny myself I just didn’t want to choose the cake (OK!).

We joke about eating junk and feeling rubbish then shove more sugar and processed foods into our body. Through my studies I have embraced food as medicine, therefore I find my way of eating is constantly evolving. I am discovering ingredients and superfoods on a regular basis, removing and adding in to my daily diet. I love feeling good whilst also embracing my imperfections. Yet faced with colleagues and friends joking (in the nicest possible way) about how healthy/‘good’ I was; I felt the dreadful feeling of not fitting in (shock horror, at thirty something this phenomenon still exists…). I found myself explaining that I had eaten some junk food over the holidays – ‘honest’, exaggerating the unhealthy foods and drink intake in an effort to fit in.

I realise that as human beings it is important for each us to belong and we need to form strong relationships and friendships. Although it is normal to want to ‘fit in’ and be in the majority, it can be damaging if the majority does not fit in with our own core values. Food judgment and labeling is real and extremely emotive it actually drives us away from really listening to our bodies. Don’t misunderstand, I do consume wine and maybe the odd piece of junk food, usually when I am exhausted, overworked and under planned, but I love feeling good and enjoy my food.

I have often written about forming new habits and this is the key, along with a new mindset towards self love and fuelling our bodies in the best way to feel wonderful, energised and reduce risk of disease. However simple it seems, the barriers of fitting in, sophisticated advertising and poor habits developed over decades do require work to sustain change. It will not be easy at first but it will be more than worth it.

Can you forget about losing weight for the holiday, the wedding etc. and focus on your health and feeling good for life? Examine how you want to feel, what you want to be doing at 60/70 years old. Will you be dancing, fulfilling lifetime ambitions, have your own business, travelling around the world not having to worry about expensive insurance due to the list of diseases you have accumulated?

Tips to overcoming peer pressure and feeling wonderful:

1. If you are surrounded by people who do not share your views on food as medicine/health and although well meaning, do not support your efforts to lose weight or just feel fabulous then you can do what I did. You don’t have to banish everyone that does not support you, however you can immerse yourself in different viewpoints for example listen to podcasts, read books, magazine articles to help you keep the mindset that will help you make healthy choices for you.

2. Increase fibre by eating more vegetables – become comfortable in making stir fries, soups, chilli and curry from scratch. Reduce processed foods.

3.Be the change you want to see in others – show others how the changes you have made have changed your life. Show that healthier means happier and inspire.

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