One common concern with regards to dieting is how to maintain social relationships and weight while most social events center around food.
To achieve weight loss goals, it can sometimes require a separation of yourself from certain people, at least when food is involved. The catch-22 here is that dieting isn’t easy and a stressor that requires physical, mental, and emotional energy. In the midst of such an undertaking, support is also a necessity. Even our biggest cheerleaders aren’t always confident in how to best support us when we endure trials they have not. While it isn’t always easy to ask for help, both you and your friend will be glad you did.
If you’re not sure exactly how your friends can support your weight loss, we’ve got five examples. The next move is yours to approach the most supportive ally you’ve got!
1. Accountability – If you need someone who is going to hold your feet to the fire, and who you don’t want to let down, then recruit a friend to join you in your exercise routine or ask them to ask you about how you are doing with your eating habits. You are much less likely to bail if you know your friend will be waiting for you to workout at 6am. If you share your journey electronically, make sure to ask friends to specifically comment on your tweets or posts, so you know someone is listening to and encouraging you.
2. Advocacy – If it’s too hard or exhausting to keep defending your reasons for not taking a second helping at a party, or if you’re tired of asking the restaurant server about ingredients and preparation, let a friend take over. An advocate wants your goal for you as much as you do and will speak up on your behalf when it’s not always easy. Any unwanted, unopened non-perishables can be shared with a food kitchen or food bank.
3. Kitchen Makeover – If your fridge or pantry is full of foods not on your diet, but are tempting nonetheless, ask a friend to remove those things so you aren’t tempted to eat them rather than throw them away. Then, go shopping for healthy pantry basics to ensure you can make nutritious meals on a whim.
4. Meal Preparation – One major downfall in any healthy eating plan is simply convenience. When it is late or we are busy or tired, taking the time to prepare a healthy meal may be the last thing you want to do. If you often work late on a specific night, ask a good friend if you can join them for dinner on those evenings. This friend would even be willing to cook and freeze a few meals for you. Just make sure your friend knows any of your dietary restrictions.
5. Gardening – If you are living in a small or more urban environment, it may be difficult to grow your own fresh produce, and farmers markets aren’t always accessible. However, your friends may have some space where you or they can grow food for one or both of you to eat. A shared garden makes for some concentrated bonding time, provides healthy produce for sharing, and a low-intensity workout!
6. Redefine Social. If it’s big backyard BBQs and wine and tapas happy hours that are taking you over the edge, then work with your friends to rethink what quality, social time together looks like. As noted above, garden together, or give your time as a group to an organization you love. Go for a walk or run together, or take a group fitness class like spinning or yoga. Start a book club and sip tea instead of empty-calorie cocktails. You could even splurge for pedicures!
By Brooke Randolph, LMHC