I am a dietitian. I love my job. Every day, I get to help people make better decisions about their food, and although I am not a psychologist, I’m often asked to play one. I know my limits and choose not to go beyond my expertise, but I see the same trend over and over again in my clients. And it all has to do with the company they keep.
I’ll give you an example. Last week I saw a client of mine at the store. This particular woman had been very successful in turning her bad habits into good ones, and in the process, she lost about 50 pounds. She was doing fabulous. She had told me that she had “fallen off the wagon” in the past few weeks as she was consoling her best friend after the break up of her friend’s marriage. They had been dining out a lot since the divorce and her friend often made comments when my client chose to order something healthy. Comments like, “Oh great, now your going to make me feel bad for ordering the cheeseburger,” or “You don’t have to be perfect all the time you know...makes the rest of us self conscious.” My client acted as if she had no other choice but to follow the same unhealthy patterns that her friend had adopted.
By the way, the friend was using the same tactics even when they were in college, before either of them was married. If you think the company you keep has nothing to do with how successful you are in your habits, think again. Studies show that social support has a huge impact on how likely we are to keep sound nutrition principles. Perhaps you have a friend that has not been as successful as you are or is resentful of how great you look, even if she does not say it. The point here is that the way we choose to live our lives has to be about us, and not about how others will view us for it. I gave my client a lecture, right there in the middle of the mall about sticking true to the principles that I had taught her. It was only then that she saw the light and realized that her unhealthy eating at restaurants and subsequent weight gain made her friend feel good, but made her feel terrible. Take a close look at who you let into your healthy life. Are your friends, spouse, parents, etc., hurting you or helping you? Realizing this may be just as important as realizing which bread is the best one to buy at the grocery store. Sorry if I just played Dietitian turned psychologist.