• Battling Peer Pressure

    It’s hard to resist temptation when everyone around you is indulging in chicken wings and fries while you’re eating a salad. One of the biggest threats to your new healthy eating plan is the influence of your friends. No matter how old you are, peer pressure never quite goes away.

    Although you no longer have to worry about your friends trying to convince you to toilet paper the math teacher’s house, they just might try to influence your behavior in other ways, particularly if you’ve just started a healthy eating plan. Avoiding peer pressure involves planning, determination, and willpower. Your friends might do their best to persuade you to abandon your new eating habits, but you can eat healthy and enjoy a nice night out with your friends if you keep the following tips in mind.

    Tell Your Friends in Advance

    If you’ve always been the first one in the group to head back to the buffet for seconds, your friends will be surprised to learn that you’ve embraced healthy eating. Explain that you’ve changed the way you eat and will appreciate their support and encouragement when you go out to dinner. 

    Ask a Friend to Join You

    It’s easier to stick to your plans if you’ve got a partner to encourage you and remind you of your goals. Consider splitting an entrée with your friend.

    Choose a Restaurant with Healthy Options

    If the chef at your favorite hangout believes that frying is the only way to prepare food, it might be time to expand your horizons and try new a place. Look for restaurants that provide a range of options that will satisfy you and your friends. Take a look at the menu on the restaurant’s website to determine which selections are low-fat, low-carb, and low-calorie. Many restaurants highlight healthy options on their menus, which will make the process easier for you.

    Plan Ahead for Extra Calories

    Eat a smaller lunch if you know dinner is likely to be more calorie intensive. If you’re worried about maintaining your willpower, eat a healthy snack before you leave home. You’ll be less likely to overindulge if you’re not starving when you reach the restaurant. photo courtesy of martin cathrae

    Limit Alcohol and High-Calorie Beverages

    Alcoholic drinks, milkshakes, and other high-calorie beverages can derail your plans to make the evening a low-calorie one. Skip the milkshakes and take the time to savor those alcoholic beverages, rather than chugging them down. Decide how many drinks you’ll have in advance and switch to water after you reach your limit. Remember, alcohol clouds your judgement. You are more likely to derail your plans altogether once you're intoxicated.

    Change the Focus of the Evening

    Spend more time shopping and walking than eating at the food court during a trip to the mall with friends. Focus on the game rather than the nachos at sporting events. Better yet, find an activity that combines physical fitness with socializing such as hiking or rollerblading.

    The Bottom Line

    Sticking to your plan won’t always be easy, particularly if your friends ridicule your efforts. Remind yourself that it doesn’t matter what they think, it only matters what you think. Don’t let a few unkind words derail your healthy eating plans. When you continue to watch what you eat, despite the negative comments, your friends will eventually realize that they are wrong in applying pressure. Who knows? In addition to earning the admiration and respect of your friends, you might convince a few to join you.

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