By Brittney Bergen
When you make a change to your lifestyle before others around you, it’s likely gonna call a few things into question:
- “Are you really not going to have a drink? Wow, you’re so disciplined.”
- “Come on, it’s your brother’s birthday. Aren’t you gonna have a piece of cake?”
- “What are you eating now?” As you eat a rice cake, strip of bacon, sauerkraut, or whatever new-to-you health food your peers aren’t used to seeing you consume.
I’ve been there too, sister or bro. I’ve faced the challenges of doing something different and getting flack for it.
And now I don’t experience any of that! I’m surrounded by nurturing wings of support. My friends and family get me, and they respect and adore me for doing what’s right for me.
Here are the stages I had to pass through to overcome nutrition peer pressure. Do you find yourself in one of them now?
Stage 1: Accept You’re A Little Freaky
Congratulations! You’ve embraced a new way of eating (and likely a new way of moving and being while you’re at it). You’ve done this before your friends and family.
That makes you a leader!
“Sure being a leader (at work or at home or philosophically) is a lonely act. The very definition of being a leader means you are out in front – with no one else.” – Robin Sharma
The first few months of making a change are the hardest part. All forms of resistance possible will likely build to pull you back to your old way of being.
Your friends, family, and self-doubt will all gather together singing a chorus, calling you back into your comfort zone.
Or back to your comfort food?
You will face challenges but stand your ground.
I’m here to be the voice of reason with you, my friend. You are on the right path. You are a leader of leaders. You are showing your friends, family, and SELF that you are worthy of this new, healthier way of being.
Stand your ground. They’ll come around.
Stage 2: Watch Your Tribe Surround You
When you first started this journey, you felt alone. You felt a little freaky.
As long as you kept your freak flag flying high and didn’t succumb to the pressure put on you by your famjam or pals, you’re about to witness a miracle: they’re gonna start doing it too!
The next stage, after feeling alone out front, is watching those who are ready to rise to a new way of being gather around you. Your eating, movement, and BEING habits are wearing off on those around you. Congratulations, and THANK YOU! You are helping society level up.
You are creating a new healthier reality where it is safe for all of us to run and play and eat kale together in harmony.
During this stage you might notice:
- Your mom picks up plain Greek yogurt, making sure she has it available for you as a sour cream substitute for your next family occasion. She even makes the swap herself.
- Your dad eats half of a 16-oz steak when he’s in your presence, instead of the whole thing.
- Your friends stop questioning your decision to skip a drink, and you even see them sip on a glass of water between their own alcoholic bevvies.
Find a variety of ways to nourish your mind, body and soul.
You don’t say anything to point out these changes. You sit back and smile as you witness your tribe gathering. “That Idealistic lady told me this would happen,” you think to yourself.
Yes, yes I did. And now brace yourself for…
Stage 3: “I Am Not Your Guru”
This is the name of a Tony Robbins documentary you can watch on Netflix. It’s also what I decided to dub this section. Stage 3 is the part where everyone and their grandmother starts asking you nutrition questions:
- “Is bread really that bad for me?” Your hairstylist asks.
- “Should I drink diet or regular soda?” Your friend asks when you meet her out for a drink.
You have now become the expert among your peers. They’ve seen the changes in your body and your life (wahoo! So freaking proud of you! Please feel this virtual pat on your back right now.)
There are two ways to navigate this stage:
- Let Your Genius Evolve
If the answers flow out of you, let the teacher who was always in you emerge. Are you in a job you hate? Perhaps the Universe is providing you with another way now.
Get a nutrition certification and become the teacher you’ve always wanted to be, deep down.
In the meantime, know your limits. Refer out. Or, my personal favourite – when you don’t know the answer – reply with this, “I’m not sure of the answer that’s right for you. This is what I do, and this is why I do it.”
Give that person permission to become the hero in their own nutrition story, just like you have!
- Set Better Boundaries
- Tell your hairstylist that although you love nutrition, you’re not in a place to answer his questions about food. You’d love to talk about the last concert he saw, though!
- Refer your friend out to some sources where you did your greatest learning. Send her to a nutrition coach or a great blog (I know one or two 😉 ). Let her know you’re happy to share about your own journey, and you’re not ready to advise her. You want your relationship to remain a friendship, not to evolve into a coaching relationship.
Whatever you choose, keep a light heart. Laugh when the postal man asks you about your green smoothie. Smile when a random lady in the elevator asks to feel your biceps. Go with it! Life is fun! Open up to your sense of humour.
You can enjoy a pint and find balance too!
Stage 4: Healthful Heaven
This is where I’m at now, friend. HEAVEN!
I first felt alone. I watched my tribe gather and level up around me. I became the guru, and I embraced it.
Now I’m having a new kind of experience, and it’s better than anything I could’ve imagined for myself:
- I accept others unconditionally wherever they’re at on their own nutrition journey. Want to pour yourself a 4-finger scotch while I sip on kombucha? That’s cool! Let’s chat about the deep workings of the Universe, or your kids’ ball team, or whatever. It’s all good. It’s all bliss.
- I’ve taken total responsibility for not only my experience of food, but of life. I recognize I am the conscious creator of this body, and this life. I realize it’s my responsibility to operate in harmony with the earth. That my food decisions don’t only affect me. (As you’ve seen, they influence those around you. They also affect the planet on a grander scale.) My body and my life are transforming into something breathtakingly beautiful.
- I no longer need food to fill up on a feeling or to connect. You can have your nachos, and I can sip on a tea. OR, if I feel like it enhances my life experience, I might join you. I don’t need food to feel love, joy, or bliss. I can receive that in a deep conversation with you, or in meditation by myself. I separate my emotions from my physical hunger cues.
To be honest, I don’t even need the love or support of others anymore. I love and support myself. I approve of myself.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this nutrition journey you’re on is about so much more than nutrition. You’re levelling up in all ways: physical, yes – but also emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Stay on the path, friend. Stand your ground when it comes to your goals, be it nutrition-related, or otherwise.
Stick to your principles. Show others a new way.
As all of us level-up in all areas of our life, we move towards experiencing the connection we thought we’d receive by munching on nachos together or slinging back a few pints with our pals. As we let go of our fears around food and friends, we open up to experiencing true harmony, unity, love, and bliss. A burger will never give you that.
Separate your perception of connection from your feelings about food. Give yourself the approval you need – stop assigning that to others.
Do these things, friend, and nutrition peer pressure will be a thing of your past.