How to resist social pressure while dieting
You always thought your dietary preferences – what you choose to eat or avoid – were a personal choice? Well, think again. Social animals that we are, our choices are often dictated by others around us and food is no exception. But this can be a problem if you are trying to diet.
Whether you are eating at home or out, opposition to a newly adopted diet plan from others at the table is inevitable. Suddenly going off a whole lot of food items is bound to disturb the status quo in your group, and this will elicit unsolicited opinion, advice, even reproach. And the result, more often than not, will be that rather than risk spoiling the party, you will give in and abandon your diet plan.
So how can you remain resolute in your intention to follow your diet without having to play spoilsport?
Here are some ways:
* Determine your priorities: Firstly, decide whether it really means more to you to stick to your diet and achieve your health goals, rather than appeasing your friends. If yes, then the choice has been made for you and no amount of bickering should compel you to give up your resolve. Now all you need to do is to clarify your position in a way that does not unnecessarily antagonize your friends.
* Remain resolute: Once you have announced that you are dieting and off specific foods, remain true to your word. It won’t do to refuse to have, say, an ice cream one day and gustily tuck into it on another. Not only will this give out mixed signals to your friends, they will also doubt your sincerity and shrug off your effort as nothing more than a passing fad.
* Be reasonable: At times outright refusal to eat something could appear rude or inconsiderate. For instance if somebody offered you a birthday treat, or asked you to try out a dish they had labored over, you may not be able to turn it down. To avoid hurting the person, you can compromise by eating a token bite of the treat. Similarly, while ordering out together, rather than vetoing everything your friends suggest you can agree to have a dish of their choice while specifying that any taboo ingredients – such as say butter to go over the dal or ghee to pour on the rotis – are served separately.
* Resort to a fib: Sometimes, with very persuasive friends, telling the truth – that you are on a self-imposed diet – may not work. In this case you could shift the onus on to your doctor by saying that you are medically forbidden from eating certain foods. Your friends will hopefully not try to persuade you to disregard your doctor’s advice and you will be left to yourself.
* Explain your point: Arbitrarily announcing that you are on a diet and won’t eat foods others are relishing may have the unfortunate effect of making you appear snobbish. Instead, try making an effort to explain to friends why you have chosen not to eat a particular food. This will not just help them to see your point of view but may also encourage them to join you.
* Select eating partners: If all your efforts to stick to your diet while keeping the peace with your friends fail, you could consider gradually restricting the number of times you eat with the group. Either choose a different set of friends to eat with or get used to eating by yourself.
Image: Flickr Creativecommons bingbing