Summertime, and the eating is… stressful! How can that be? So many fantastic barbecues, parties, weddings, road trips and adventures should equal tons of fun, but that isn’t always the case when you’re watching your weight and trying to stay healthy. All these gatherings usually include plenty of sugar, packaged food and lots of booze. Whenever there’s socialization, there’s bound to be social pressure. If you are one to cave easily or follow the pack, you will commonly find yourself in a Food Dialogue dilemma in front of the food table. Or worse, you’re beating yourself up mentally for “poor choices” or “weak moments” when you get home. So how do you navigate the social pressures and still live easy this summer? Try the tips below:
Host a Dress Rehearsal
Most often we act to please others when we are feeling insecure or when emotions are running high. Imagine you are at a wedding, single, and all around you are only happy couples. Imagine you are at the beach feeling bloated and that friend who can eat anything and still look like a million bucks comes by your blanket with a frosty beer in one hand and a bag of chips in the other. Or imagine you are on a roadtrip with whining kids and your partner is munching on your favorite junk food and talking about stopping for fast food the next time you fill up. Possibilities for making less than perfect choices are inevitable!
However, if you can imagine your own worst case scenario and start to feel triggered even without it really happening, you can make a plan to keep those same emotions from popping up during the main event. By running through the event in our mind’s eye beforehand, we can better anticipate what will trigger us and how we can mitigate that reaction. If being at that wedding will make you feel sad and lonely, plan to call someone you love when those emotions bubble up instead of heading for the dessert table. If that friend will have you wondering “what’s the point?” of eating well, you can remind yourself that everyone has their own struggles, go shopping for a beach outfit that makes you feel fabulous, and make a point to keep a better record of your progress.
By allowing yourself to live through the event before it happens you enable action steps you can take to avoid disaster. This is a much healthier option than sitting around worrying about it too.
Keep it Simple
It is scientifically proven that humans do not like to be different from the group. Standing out was a good way to get turned out of the cave, which meant genetic failure. This is why people at a large dinner table all tend to order the same way, and why you always look around at what other people are eating before making your selection. When you get into a debate about your food choices versus that of other people it only creates tension and raised emotions. When emotions are high we have less self control and tend to act impulsively.
Instead, have quick, easy tactic for avoiding the subject while eating. If someone at your table inquires about why you are eating something or passes judgement on your choice, simply smile and change the subject. This is an assertive move, and for someone to respond in any way other than to politely go with the change in conversation would be aggressive. In other words, it’s understood you are the good guy with the upper hand. This enables you to make choices in line with your goals and feel good about them without judgement or needing to defend yourself. Conversations about your change in food preferences are best had at a different time than while eating.
Trust Your Gut (literally)
If a passing comment or judgement from someone (other than your health practitioners) can sway your choices about food, it is time to look inside at your beliefs and fears. When we are comfortable with who we are and what we stand for, we are not easily influenced by others. We cannot control what others say (and if it is appropriate) but we can control how we respond.
The strength of trust in yourself and your choices is increased by connecting with your gut. Your gut gives you feedback about how food feels and reacts with your body. If, for example, someone is chattering about how the cheesecake is to die for, yet you know it gives you painful gas and bloating, you will be much less likely to try it. Or if someone is whining about how many calories are in the guacamole so they need to avoid it, but you have already eaten a generous helping, you’ll be much less likely to feel bad because you know it contains healthy fat and fiber that makes you feel good and your skin glow.
When you act from your body rather than your thoughts or emotions it is like moving from the deep ocean rather than the current or the waves. By building trust in yourself the opinions of others become like surface level white noise and you feel more at peace.
People do not like change. Some people have known you for many years and for all those years you were their drinking buddy, their diet-cheating buddy, their foodie friend, and so on. So when you start Living WILDFIT and no longer fit in the box they assigned you, of course they are going to need some time to adjust and test you to make sure you’re serious. Remember that many people live in a paradigm in which diet is a bad word, so being the one to shake you of it is actually a good thing! Most people just want you to be happy, so show them how WILDFIT helps you thrive and in time they will accept this new version of you.
Make it work for you
Social pressure isn’t always a bad thing. Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” and most of us would agree that is true. We are pack animals, so if you can’t beat your nature, make it work for you. This may mean that you need to shift the importance of some friendships, change the groups you are a part of and the places you spend time. If living in alignment with your goals always feels like an uphill struggle, you may need to look at the people who are holding you back and let them go until they catch up on their own.
Find your tribe by seeking out plant based restaurants, gatherings and events. If they don’t exist yet in your area, it is an opportunity to create them! The WildFit Community group is a great space to connect with your fellow WildThings and share how you are making things work for you. The Living WILDFIT group is also a prime community for creating accountability and support for your journey. Above all, remember that it is never all or nothing. Moving from the present to your goals and health accomplishments takes time. So if one event or interaction doesn’t go as well as you hoped, use the experience to learn something and grow stronger the next time- it is all a part of the journey.