3 Ways to Handle Weight Loss Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure and Weight Loss

My husband and I have a running joke that he cares what other people think and I do not.

Now, that’s not entirely true, because I do care what other people think, but probably not as much as he does. He worries what people will think if one of the boys goes out with a shirt that doesn’t exactly match his shorts or worries what the neighbors will think if our crazy dog barks too much. Me? Those things do not bother me so much, especially if the child has taken the initiative to pick out an outfit he thinks looks good.

Most people do care what other people think – at least to some extent. We tend to worry about what people think about our home, our appearance, the way we raise our kids, or even the cars we drive. I think that concern about what other people think is what drives a lot of us to “keep up with the Joneses.”

It can happen with finances or appearances but it can also happen in weight loss. There are often people in our lives that pressure us to “keep up” with them and not always in a good way.

I had friends who got annoyed when I refused to partake in an appetizer at a restaurant and spent the rest of the evening making snide comments about my being “too good” for them. I had other friends who made fun of me for walking every single day. They would say, “What are you trying to do – qualify for the Olympics?” They’d laugh, but I knew that they were half serious.

Peer pressure while losing weight is real and happens more frequently than you might think. I’ve known people whose friends and family tried to sabotage their weight loss efforts by cooking foods that were not on their plan, dropping “treats” by their house, or berating them for trying to eat a healthy diet.

Your friends and family might feel threatened by the changes you are making and wonder how the relationship will change. They may be jealous, as my friend Robyn was, or feel as though you are judging them by making different choices than they do.

Although it is nice to understand why friends and family may place peer pressure on you, the why matters less than your reaction to it. The why is their problem – your reaction is what will dictate whether you let them put enough pressure on you that you quit trying to get to a healthy weight.

Here’s some ideas for handling peer pressure when it comes to weight loss.

1.  Ignore the Comments and Get Rid of the Food Gifts

This is hard to do, but it can be a successful strategy to handling people who pressure you through food or unkind comments. Just like kids are often counseled to ignore bullies – ignoring people who are pressuring you takes away some of their fire and desire.

2. Confront the Person

Here is the opposite strategy to number one. I’m not good at confrontation so this was never my first choice, but I had to on occasion. If you do choose to confront the person rehearse what you will say with a loved one or trusted friend. Some rehearsal will help you avoid getting flustered or forgetting what you wanted to say.

3. Avoid Likely Situations 

If eating out with friends prompts your friends to pressure you to eat differently than you want, you can avoid those situations by declining invitations. If spending time with those friends is still important to you, find activities you can do together that do not involve food.

Peer pressure doesn’t end at adulthood and learning how to handle it when it comes to your weight loss efforts only serves to help you stay strong and committed to your weight loss plan. Don’t let other people derail you or berate you into making decisions you know are not in your best interest.

How do you handle peer pressure when it comes to weight loss? Have you ever felt pressured to eat differently than you want? Diane

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2 thoughts on “3 Ways to Handle Weight Loss Peer Pressure

  1. Maria says:

    I agree, this can be a huge issue. One of the things I’ve noticed on this journey is it’s harder when those pressuring me are friends rather than family. I can easily respond to my family by telling them what I’m doing and they are usually (I use that term loosely) supportive. When it comes to being out with friends, I sometimes have a hard time saying ‘no’ and I have to say things like, “My doctor told me I cannot eat those types of foods if I want to stay healthy.” That seems to work.
    However, when my birthday comes around and someone makes me cupcakes, I’ve had to say,”Thank you so much, I’m full right now but I’m going to bring one home and enjoy it after dinner”. I’ll sometimes give it to someone else who can enjoy it. I found I have to do this because cupcakes (and other treats) are huge trigger foods. Even after knowing I’ve been watching what I eat, I find friends will still offer or push me to eat sweets maybe because they can handle those foods where I cannot.

  2. Martha G says:

    I am very lucky in that I never encountered this type of thing while losing or now maintaining my weight. My partner is super supportive and loves that I make us healthy and tasty dinners and have healthy food in the house. Same with my friends.
    Going out is never a problem since none of my friends wants to go to the fast food joints. For me cocktail parties are tough because I love the appetizers, but that’s OK as I can work that into the way I eat. Overdoing it once in a while is just life.

    Think I’d ditch anyone who tried to make me do something harmful to my health.

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