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Weight loss tips: How a positive attitude to food helps those around you

July 28, 2014 - Psychology

103583254fatgirlHere we explore how you can improve your relationship with food so that it has a positive impact not only on you, but on those around you, too.

Your relationship with food doesn’t just affect yourself – it can have a huge impact on thosearound you. While on your LighterLife journey you will learn a lot about your attitude to food and how to adopt a healthier outlook. We look at how this can affect your relationships with others.

Avoid ‘fixing’ with food
When a friend is upset, we like to medicate with wine and chocolate. Similarly, when a child has a tantrum, we often soothe their tears with a sweet ‘treat’ or bag of crisps.

Food as an emotional fix is nothing new. Unfortunately, this behaviour pattern reinforces the belief that the food itself can cheer us up and ease our woes.

While you can’t stop a friend from being dumped or a child from throwing a hissy fit, you can give them better tools than food and drink to help them cope. Be empathetic and help them understand that their feelings are acceptable and will pass. Remember, we always have a choice in how we respond to a situation.

Set an example
Us humans tend to stick together – we like the validation of others in our choices – and this is reflected in our eating habits. A recent study found that people are more likely to make healthy food choices if their friends do.

Experts from the University of Illinois looked at the receipts of 1,500 people who ate in groups at a restaurant over a period of 19 weeks. They noted that if one person in a group ordered a healthy meal then their friends were likely to order something similar. While this was only one small study, it does make sense. How many times have you been out for dinner and changed your mind at the last minute because you notice your friend is going for a healthier option and you feel you ought to too? Likewise, if you’re the main food shopper in your household then the people you live with are likely to be influenced by your eating habits – when you buy crisps, they eat crisps.

Set an example to those around you by taking a considered approach to the food you buy/order. If you choose healthy options, your friends and family are more likely to do the same.

Resist empty plate pressure
Many of us were brought up with the belief that we had to finish everything on our plates. In the post-war era, leftovers were seen as wasteful and children were often punished for not eating up.

While this may have seemed like a good idea at the time, what it actually did was create a whole wave of guilt around eating up, even when we’re not hungry – and taught us to ignore what our bodies are telling us.

If your child hasn’t eaten much at the end of a mealtime, then don’t stress. Pressurising or making a child feel guilty about not eating will foster unhealthy eating habits in the long-term. The child will either strive to keep you happy by always eating up – which could lead to overeating in the future. Or, they’ll rebel and refuse to eat altogether – again leading to unhealthy future food issues.

Offer choices
Kids are clever. Hiding peas under a pile of mashed potatoes may seem like a canny way of getting them to eat vegetables but actually all it’s doing is making your child mistrust you.

Get your child involved in what they eat by asking them what they’d prefer to eat from a couple of options. And, don’t worry if a child refuses to eat something new. Statistics show that it often takes 10-15 exposures to new foods before a child will try them.

Ultimately, a healthier attitude to food begins with us. Whatever pressures are going on around you, if you are able to adopt a rational approach to eating, those around you will also be inclined to follow suit.

LighterLife Communities can help you address your issues with food, get in touch today and find a group near you.