There’s been a recall on cookies; they’re making people’s pants shrink.
I’m joking about the recall on cookies, but increased consumption is leading people to feel like their pants have shrunk. Why? We’re being pressured into eating too many, both directly and indirectly. Have you ever thought of how societal pressure has effected your eating? I’m sure most of us couldn’t be left alone in a room with a box of cookies and not want to eat one, or two, or the whole box. Since you’re reading this article, let’s assume (I’m hoping) you wouldn’t eat the whole box. For the sake of example, let’s say a friend of yours was in that room with you, and they started eating the box of cookies. Odds are you would start eating a few cookies with him or her just due to the fact that they were eating them. The odds of you over indulging would be even higher if he or she suggested you share the cookies with them. “What’s a couple of cookies?” one might ask you, to pressure you into eating them. Granted it’s more likely that you would have been able to resist the temptation if you were alone, but a mere suggestion will likely lead to you guiltily wiping crumbs off of your face before you know it.
Studies have shown that people eat more when with others versus eating alone.
Social norms also influence food choices and amount eaten. If a participant was told another was making a high-calorie or low-calorie choice, it increased the likelihood that they would tend to follow suit. It was also similar with the amount of food eaten, whether the person went back for seconds or pushed their plate away.
Direct pressure also has an effect on social eating.
A parent would likely be upset to find out that their kid was being bullied at school. Some parents may in fact be bullying others themselves though, and not even realize it. They are bullying their co-workers, family and friends by pushing them to eat unhealthy foods. Not to downgrade the severity of bullying in schools, but to make people aware of their unwanted and potentially harmful behavior. “Oh, a piece of cake isn’t going to kill you” someone might say. There’s nothing wrong with offering a piece of cake to someone, but it’s the pressure to eat it if someone really doesn’t want it. My goal and point is to make people aware of that fact, and of their possible sabotaging behavior towards others.
An innocent piece of cake for one could turn into a dieting disaster for others.
One turns into two, then three pieces and so on – and the habit that was so hard to break, the weight that was so hard to lose is gained back and then some. Unfortunately, if you’re one that wants to eat healthy or stick to a diet plan, you’re going to have to deal with diet sabotagers sooner or later.
What do you do when someone tries to pressure you into eating something you don’t want?
What if you just don’t want that piece of cake? You can say, “No, thank you but I don’t want any” or turn the tables and say “Why don’t’ you have another piece of cake?” Giving in and saying yes to a piece of cake when you don’t want it is likely due to a need for approval. It’s important to realize that this may have been a behavior of yours that contributed to your weight gain in the first place. Focus on self improvement versus seeking approval from others. It also helps to realize that diet sabotagers may be acting out of quilt, anger, shame or envy – they too may have a hard time saying no.