A “Contagious” Diet
What governs your food choices? It turns out peer pressure can extend beyond adolescence and into adulthood. It can influence your personal food choices. You may not realize it but your eating habits may be influenced by your peers. Do you tend to eat what your friends eat? If you hear your peer order a high-calorie item on a menu, are you more likely to choose the same item? Such social influences can control what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat.

A recent review published in the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that social influences on dietary choices can be rather strong. Many people who were told that others were choosing low-calorie or high-calorie foods were more inclined to make similar choices.

“I’ll Have What He’s Having”
If your friend orders a burger and fries, are you more inclined to order a similar menu item even if your plan was to stick with a lean fish and salad? Or are you eating that high-fat dessert just to make the hostess of a dinner party happy? Researchers explained that many people conform to their peers’ food choices to assure their place in a social group—to fit in. The influence may be so strong that you may behave or eat like your peers even when they are not around to see your food choices.

Holidays, special occasions, and family dinners may make it hard for you to stick to your healthy meal plan. Being aware of this influence can help you combat it and stick to what works for you.

Voice your goals!
Focus on sharing your healthy resolutions with others. This may decrease the chances that they will try to tempt you or push you to make an unhealthy food choice. with the purpose of positively influencing them. In the end, to stay healthy and energized, you need to consider your own nutritional needs when making food choices.

Speak up!
Prepare a kind refusal in advance if you anticipate that friends or family may push you to consume too much food or not the right type of food. Your refusal of unhealthy foods that do not fit into your meal plan need not be offensive. A mature, strong, confident and gracious reply, such as “No, thank you” can help stave off the pressure.

Choose Wisely!
Do you have like-minded peers in your social network who have similar health goals? Are there any members of your social network that help support your healthy lifestyle? To some extent, you have control over the people who you fill your environment with. Choose your peers wisely. They can either help or hurt the healthy habits you’ve chosen for yourself.