Think for a moment when you have been in a position where you are dining with friends and this scenario arises. You are sitting in a restaurant and have already made a conscious decision in choosing a meal that won’t rack up a whole days worth of calories in one sitting. You open the menu and find yourself salivating over the picture of a triple-decker cheeseburger with endless garlic fries and soda. The battle of the mind begins.
You have been doing a great job with intermittent fasting, strength training, HIIT cardio, and have all been kicking your butt. You have been seeing amazing results from week to week and want to continue into the next week on a positive note…..so you decide eating a meal on the lighter side. In your mind it’s a done deal and you feel good about it. But before you open your mouth, all your friends have blurted out their orders of an appetizer the size of a spare tire, a triple-decker cheeseburger, and the two foot brownie sundae for dessert. While handing the menus to the waiter they turn in your direction, anxiously awaiting a decision. Without even thinking about it, your initial decision turns to “I’ll have what they are having,” followed with a little bit of remorse of “why can’t I stop eating.”
Is There A Reason Why I’m Addicted To Food? Why Pals Shape One Another’s Health Behaviors
Do you remember junior high lectures about how strong peer pressure can be? Of course most of the topics were in directed towards more serious things like sex outside of marriage, alcoholism, drugs, tobacco, etc. If your friends are dabbling or diving into these acts of behaviors, typically your behaviors will model it. Research has found that areas like these are considered socially contagious behaviors(it is thought that food addicts grab hold of these habits). So contagious that evens a small group of friends that decide to get a flu shot(despite how harmful and ineffective they are) make big impacts on others deciding to get one even though they never planned to in the first place.
So What Does This Have To Do With Diet?
As you can see, your friends’ health decisions have a weird way of influencing us. Sometimes without even knowing it! I like to call it “The (Sundae) Ripple Effect.” Having a close friend who’s packing on the pounds left and right can make you almost 60% more likely to do the same. Research shows that how much you weigh directly correlates on who you hang out with. James Fowler,Ph.D and Nicholas Christakis,M.D. both studied social networks for about ten years and have found that “consciously or unconsciously, people look to others when deciding what and how much to eat, and how much weight is too much.” What they mean by this is best described in the previous scenario in the restaurant. You had your mind made up about what you were NOT going to order and had no desire to even glance at the dessert menu. That all changed when everyone else ordered the colossal dinner package.
We May Seek Relationships That Influence to Indulge
I am going to come out and say it….women are the worst culprits when it comes to this. Some of you ladies may be laughing because you know it’s true. Not every day do you hear about a guy calling up a buddy asking him to come over so they can eat out of the same carton of ice cream because he had a crummy day at work. Women are notorious for this. Many women have “junk food and I can’t stop eating friends” that they call up on any given time of the day to say “I had a terrible day, do you want to come over and fry up some cheese sticks and polish off a package of Oreo’s. That would make me feel a lot better.”
Being A Copycat Is Not Always A Bad Thing
On the reverse side of the issue, research has also shown that you can pick up “good” habits from friends. If your group happens to be eating just an appetizer as their meal, do you want to be the one who strolls in and orders a six course feast? Most people will want to behave appropriately to leave a good impression on those around them. This is also the case when friends start eating right, eating less, stop eating junk food, and weight train consistently, can rub off on you and positively impact you to do the same. Of course women typically will take this idea to the next level. If there is competition between two women, whether it is over a man, school, work, fitness, etc-they use “under eating” as a weapon. When women compete to gain an edge, they will most likely choose a smaller or lighter meal than their rival. It is a weird way of showing the other person that they are winning. Researchers have also found that even if a women hasn’t ate anything after a couple days, will still eat as much or even less than their competitor.
Friends Can Also Try To Sabotage Each Other
Let’s say you have been away from the gym for years and your diet has fallen by the wayside. You decide to take positive action by getting your butt in gear by working out and getting your diet in control. Friends might come along and pressure you into skipping your workouts or influencing you to order the cheese fries over your original decision of a salad. The reason for this…….they don’t want to be reminded of their own struggles with weight by watching a healthy eater make careful choices” says Susan Bowerman of UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition. “We want them to join our ‘Im addicted to food’ club.”
I Am Not Saying Your Friends Are Evil
I wanted to make a clear point that I am not here to tell you to go and find different friends. The whole point of this article is to make you aware of your surroundings and how friends can influence your fat loss goals. You can still be in charge of your fat loss despite what your friends are doing and saying. Being able to recognize the negative influence can give you the leg-up on how to handle these obstacles head on and turn them into something positive. This will help you battle against the “why cant I stop eating” syndrome.Like I said before, your friends may not even know they are doing it. That is the point. You never know, your good habits may end up being the positive influence on your friends to get fit.