If you’re participating in a weight-loss program, you know how hard it can be to stay on track. One thing that can make it even harder to keep your eyes on the prize is your circle of friends. They might mean well, but sometimes friends can do more harm than good when it comes to sticking to a diet.
Here are six ways your friends are making it impossible to lose weight.
1. Eating junk food around you
If you go out to eat with people who aren’t on a diet, it can be difficult to stay focused on eating healthy. Once you see someone enjoying that piece of chocolate cake or an extra slice of pizza with all the fixings, it’s easy to lose your willpower. In fact, your chances of completely missing your diet mark are increased the bigger your dinner group is.
Research by psychologist John de Castro revealed that when we eat with one other person we eat an average of 33% more food than when we eat alone. His research also found that “47%, 58%, 69%, 70%, 72%, and 96% increases were associated with two, three, four, five, six, and seven or more people present, respectively.”
2. Posting food on social media
Thanks to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, you can get details of every meal your friends are eating. The only thing is, looking at food porn on social media can leave you wanting more. Lusting after their food pics could cause you to derail your diet by sneaking a high-calorie food you know you shouldn’t be eating.
Your best bet in this situation is to stay off social media until you’ve got your diet — and your willpower — under control.
3. Pushing you to eat more
Going out to dinner with friends can be a nerve-wracking experience when you’re on a diet. When others know you’re trying to meet a weight-loss goal, they might give you unsolicited — yet unhelpful — advice in an attempt to support you. For example, a friend might push you to eat a hamburger when all you want is a salad. In a situation like this, you’ll have to firmly express your intention to stick to your meal plan. Thank your friends for their concern, but politely tell them to back off.
This situation can be harder to navigate if your spouse is the one pushing you to eat more. That’s because you have to live with him or her, and a disagreement could put a wrinkle in your communication until the misunderstanding is resolved. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed the impact of spouses, siblings, and friends on eating patterns during a 10-year period. The study found that couples had the most impact on each other’s eating habits, especially when it came to consuming alcohol and snacking.
4. Bringing treats
We all have that one friend who constantly tries to feed us. For some people, it’s just the way they show their love and appreciation. He or she might stop by your house with a plate of brownies, a box of donuts, or a home-cooked meal that’s so fattening you can smell the calories. You have two options here. You can either say “thanks, but no thanks,” or you can take the treats and then give them to a family member or neighbor.
5. Encouraging you to skip workouts
Your friends might try to push you to skip workouts so you can hang out or catch a movie. If you start to notice your friend’s requests are getting more frequent, he or she might be purposely trying to interfere with your weight-loss goals.
Although it’s OK to skip your workout every now and then (such as when you’re sick, for example), it’s not such a good idea to do it often. Large gaps in your workout routine can make it much harder for you to get back on track.
6. Body shaming
Another diet-sabotaging behavior your friends might exhibit is telling you you’re too thin. These comments might come up during dinner or in passing during conversation. If your friend happens to be very outspoken, he or she might even make a scene in front of your other friends about how you need to put on a few pounds. In some cases, your friends might be right. However, if you’ve had a full medical evaluation and your doctor has determined you need to lose more weight, that’s all that matters.
Are you on a diet? Chances are, you’re looking for resources to help you stay motivated and knowledgeable. Here are a few apps and websites that can help you meet your goal. But also remember to check with your doctor before starting any weight-loss program.
Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.