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Social Pressure to Overeat? 6 Ways to Cope

Social Pressure to EatBy Linda Gabriel

Considering the fact that more than two-thirds of the adults and one-third of the children in the US are overweight or obese, it’s odd that there’s still so much social pressure to eat. Yet social pressure remains a big reason why people often find themselves eating far too much for their own good.

Dining out in restaurants is a treat, yet most restaurant food is deadly for someone who wants to normalize their weight. Dates, parties, family gatherings and business meetings are laced with caloric land mines. It’s no wonder we grow up associating food with love, especially the rich, sweet, fatty foods we tend to celebrate with. On the other hand, if we’re nervous about a party, food can become a way to cope with social stress.

Here are some helpful suggestions for dealing with social pressure to overeat:

1. Have a game plan

One of the best ways to deal with social challenges around food is to have a game plan in place. Decide what you’re going to eat before going to that party or restaurant and then stick to your plan. Tell the waiter to take the bread away and don’t order from the menu. Instead ask the chef to prepare some broiled fish or lean meat with steamed vegetables.

2. Ask your family, friends, and co-workers for support

Enlist your family, co-workers and friends to bring healthy dishes to the next pot luck. Lead by example. Begin  collecting and sharing delicious, healthy recipes. Maybe you can ban the donuts from business meetings, or at least limit them to once a week instead of having them available on a daily basis. Start some new family traditions. So much socializing is food-centered but it doesn’t have to be that way. Focus on a physical activity – a hike or a game of croquet – and let food be the side attraction.

3. Skip the seconds

Those extra bites count so stop eating when you feel full. Remember, eliminating just 200 calories a day will result in a 20 pound weight loss over the course of a year. By the same token an extra 200 will add 20 pounds. So yes, that extra cookie, those extra few bites, that second helping of buffalo wings really do make a difference.

4. Choose who you sit next to

Studies show that we are subconsciously influenced by the eating habits of others. Sometimes it helps to sit next to the slowest, pickiest eater. On the other hand, we sometimes will eat less when sitting next to an overweight person who is overeating. Figure out who’s most likely to influence you to eat less and hang out with them.

5. Eliminate or limit alcohol

Not only is alcohol high in calories, it lowers your ability to make healthy food choices. I suggest you not drink alcohol if you want to lose weight but if you must, make it a habit to have only one drink and make it last. Consider limiting alcohol to one night a week. Make it a ritual to have a very good glass of wine or cocktail only on a special occasion, aka Saturday night.

6. Use affirmations

When tempted to indulge, I use the following affirmations. Just think them to yourself:

“Nothing and no one can keep me from living my best life.”
“I am the most powerful person in my own life.”
“I make healthy food choices.”
“I only eat when I’m hungry.”

How do you deal with social pressure to overeat? Please leave a comment, and if you enjoyed this article please share!

Photo Credit: Alison Faith

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