According to the New England Journal of Medicine, when one person increase or decrease their weight, their closest friends and family are likely to do the same. Our social networks define our social norms and behaviors. If we are surrounded by people who are health conscious, then we are likely to do the same and vice versa.
The people around you affect how you approach education, family, consumption, and marriage. What makes us think it does not influence our eating habits as well? If your office takes turn bringing in goodies each week, it is difficult to not participate when everyone is gathered around the goodies chatting. If your friends suggest a steak dinner and drinks, it is hard to eat a salad and sip water. We wear what our friends eat! Having overweight friends change our tolerance for being overweight and we start to adopt their behaviors (if unconsciously). This article said it best: “Obesity is contagious!”
So are we doomed to weight gain because of our hearty eating friends? Not necessarily, but it is going to require effort to move beyond our comfort zone.
Hang out with health conscious friends.
If you are a shopaholic, you would not want to meet another shopaholic at the mall when you are trying to save money. Neither does it make sense for us to hang out with a fast food junkie when we are trying to loose weight. Be careful around friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who reinforce your bad eating habits. I am not saying to dump your friends, just avoid eating with them.
Get support online.
There are thousands of sites, forums, and blogs that promote a healthy lifestyle. You are on one of them now. People are willing to discuss their weight issues candidly on the internet that they would never do with their “real” friends.
In the “real” world if I talk about eating as often as I do on this blog, I would probably not have any friends left. But on the internet, I can discuss it in forums, read about other people’s weight struggle in blogs, and write about it to my heart’s content (for the record – I do have other interests). The internet has expanded our world. Does it not make sense for it to expand our social network as well? No one person or group of friends can fulfill the complexity in one person’s personality and interests. But the internet could connect you with millions of people with similar personality and interests. So look for like minded health conscious friends on the internet.
Teach your child to be healthy conscious.
As parents the decisions you make have the longest lasting impact on your kids. Kids of active parents tend to be active themselves. Health minded parents conscious and subconsciously define the social norm and behaviors for their kids in regards to eating and physical activity. So think about what you are teaching your kids when you reach for that bag of potato chips or sit in front of the television. If you make a conscious effort to teach your kids how to eat healthy and be active, it is very unlikely for you to do otherwise. Unless you are a hypocrite.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by.
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