Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peer Pressure: How Influenced Are You By Others?

I spent the last few days at a conference. I had a great time and got to meet up with friends from grad school as well as various people I have worked with over the years. I am also excited about revamping my classes and trying out new ideas that I picked up at the conference.

While at the conference, I couldn’t help notice how many unhealthy temptations there were and how little people moved. The conference was in a convention center with two levels. To get from one level to the other you could take very long stairs or escalators. It was surprising to me that almost everyone stood in lines to take the escalators and hardly anyone took the stairs. We sat for most of the day, so a little movement was certainly much needed in my opinion. I also overheard several people asking their friends if they wanted to take the stairs, but each time the friend said “no” so they all took the escalator. I took the stairs every time and felt like I desperately needed the movement…

There was also an endless supply of candy and sweets in the exhibit hall. It was amazing how people repeatedly grabbed handfuls of candy and kept eating them throughout the presentations. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a little candy. However, I’m wondering how many people were mindful of what they were doing and how many simply followed what everyone else did.

And the same behavior continued after the conference ended and people gathered for drinks and finger foods. There was a lot of greasy food and people just kept eating, and some even joked that a conference wasn’t a conference without stuffing yourself.

In the past, I would have easily bought into the thinking that a conference was a “special event” and it was okay to “let loose” a bit. The problem was that I had come up with way too many special events. Also, having a good time doesn’t have to involve unhealthy food. My friend and I split a veggie sandwich and a small, truly delicious brownie for lunch followed by an iced latte “to get us through” the afternoon. :-) And after the conference we enjoyed a glass of white wine before heading home where I had a healthy dinner. I truly didn’t feel deprived and had a wonderful time.

Question: Have you ever been influenced to eat more and/or unhealthy foods by people around you? What are your strategies to make healthy choices when everyone else isn’t? For me, the key is to be mindful and have a plan beforehand. For example, I had a very firm plan that I wouldn’t eat greasy “bar food” when we got a drink after the conference.

Be well,
Andrea

30 comments:

  1. I just do what you do, be mindful and not consider it as my last chance to be in a party! Focus on communicating with people instead of thinking all the time what food they serve!
    happy Sunday~~

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  2. I love your perspective- I would have been thinking the same things. I am no longer influenced by people as I was before. Sounds like your peeps have a "woo hoo" attitude about the conference, but you just saw it as another day in which you need to make some choices. And half of a decadent brownie sounds like a great idea to me :-)

    I also ALWAYS take the stairs. And on breaks I go for a quick walk...if the break is 20 minutes I walk 9 minutes one way...this leaves 9 minutes to walk back, pee and get more coffee :-)

    Have a great sunday!

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  3. I really like your attitude. I think it's easy to get caught up in situations and not really be present- not so much influenced by others, but surrounded by temptation and not really focused on your actions. I definitely have a hard time with this...I take some deep breaths to ground myself :)

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  4. Great post and topic everyone deals with! I love what you decided to do and think it is such a positive model for everyone!

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  5. i love this post. i found myself nodding in agreement the whole time!

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  6. I think peer pressure is definitely very common and can have a huge impact on our lifestyles. That's why it's important to surround ourselves with positive and healthy people!

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  7. Great post! I have definitely experienced the "peer pressure" you're referring to, and I've definitely succumbed to it before! In fact, just recently I had a second piece of cake at a birthday party...not b/c I really needed or wanted it, but because everyone else was having seconds, so I thought, "why not?" Definitely not the best attitude. You're absolutely right that having a good time does not need to involve unhealthy food...I think I need to remind myself of that more often!

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  8. My oh my! I have given in so many times. My husband is a youth pastor. Youth events = junk food. Recently I have made an effort to stay away from the food table, which is where most of the teens hang out. :( It's hard.

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  9. I'm really terrible at peer pressure to be honest with you :sad: If others are eating poorly, I am always tempted to eat that way too. I try to remind myself that it simply isn't worth it because I'll feel worse after!

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  10. I am just like you: stairs, any chance to move I do. I also make a plan and stick to it. Lately when it comes to desserts and other decadent treats, I remind myself that the "first bite tastes best" and try not to over-indulge. I have been finding that "first bite" rule to be so true!

    Hope you had a great weekend!

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  11. It is interesting to watch groups of people and how they influence each other. I try to be mindful of what I eat but there are times when I just graze too.

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  12. I think I eat what the people around me are eating, so I'm lucky to hang with a core group that eats mindfully. When I'm not so good is at social hours, when servers are walking around with tasty appetizers and little napkins...I try to follow the rule not to eat when standing, but food is social, and that's one of my downfalls.

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  13. I tend to notice stuff like that so much more often now than ever before. The foods people are eating, without even having any idea of how unhealthy they are, is outstanding!! Any excuse to indulge is one that people will take advantage of. And like you said, at one point in my life I would have done the same. Even in the Human Nutrition department at OSU, whenever there was a meeting, we had PIZZA and POP for out lunch!! I always packed. Isn't that ridiculous? I just try to be a good influence, and practice what I preach. That is what prevents me from following other's and eat all the unhealthy crap. UGh, it makes me mad. And sad :(

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  14. i like to think that I'm influencing others to eat better...but I know that I've been guilty of peer pressure eating in the past

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  15. I don't know if peer pressure is an influence on me, most of the time, I'm my own enemy with extra snacking :)

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  16. I've definitely felt that way - especially at work. :( It's something i'm working on because I always regret it in the end. I wish more of my get togethers revolved around exercise/getting fit - I would love to have gym dates with my girls!

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  17. I am glad you brought this up. I live in office-ville and see this kind of behavoiurs all the time.

    I actually have a bowl of tes instead of candy ...i get funny looks but I am trying to hedge my own path.

    I have been taking treadmill walks on my breaks too...I can't handle sitting all day!

    xo

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  18. I can say I have been influenced, but only to the extent of planning this in advance. So, for an occasion or event deciding with others for a certain meal or an outing to the cheesecake factory and deciding on salad and sharing some cheesecake. I am not sure if that makes sense or if that is even really being influenced. Oh well.

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  19. I hate when people abuse the elevator. People in my apartment use it to get to the 2nd floor and it's so frustrating. I live on the 5th floor and am one of the few of my friends who take the stairs all the time...I'm not one to give in to peer pressure, so sometimes I walk them by myself while my friends hop on the elevator...usually I beat them!

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  20. It sounds like you really struck a balance at the conference, which is so difficult for most people when traveling or working! I really admire your discipline and hope that one day I can find balance as easily as you do now :)

    I would say that my biggest source of pressure is myself...I am not too influenced by peer pressure in recent years. If anything, I can be influenced for the better if I am around people who inspire me with good decisions (you and my other blogger friends), but if people are making poor decisions, I can usually tune those out and try to think for myself! :)

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  21. such a timely post...i posted today about being a leader vs a follower. and b/c i am more of a leader type, i dont fall prey to peer pressure as much. but what i will say, is that as a high raw GF vegan, someone ALWAYS "tries to convince me" about some facet of my diet..that i never even knew was up for discussion :) I just nod, smile, and move on! ha! Great post!

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  22. Great post! I too try to stay very mindful at events were food, drinks, and desserts are plentiful. I find that I feel so much better when I eat healthy which is plenty motivation to make healthier choices.

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  23. I 100% agree with you - having a good time doesn't necessarily mean you need to be unhealthy. If fact, being healthy makes us FEEL better, whereas being unhealthy makes us feel the opposite. Being mindful and having a prior plan, like you said, is the key.

    I get so restless at conferences and events where I have to sit a lot that I have to get up and move around! I would be racing up and down the stairs. It does seem like people tend to go the path of least resistance when it comes to movement, which is too bad.

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  24. What a great post, Andrea!

    I am at a conference with Anthony this week- and I am noticing the same thing...lots of unhealthy food and lots of alcohol!

    I think so much of it is just shaped by habit..."this is just what you do at a conference"....kind of thinking.

    I'm with you - I'm the lone one taking the stairs, using the fitness room at the hotel.

    Usually, if I'm at a conference for myself, it is more fitness-related and everyone is more wellness focused. I think that positive peer pressure helps just like negative peer pressure hurts.

    Great topic- have an awesome week!

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  25. Great post! Events like this are such a minefield for people on a weight loss program or who are just trying to eat a bit better. I think the best thing to do is to focus on how good you'll feel by getting in some exercise, and how empowered you can feel by making good food choices!

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  26. Great post! Gets me thinking- I definitely eat more when I'm around people that are eating or if I'm bored. That's another reason I started binging-because I was bored! Now I occupy my time with things and if I don't have anything to do I talk a walk instead of eating!

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  27. Nope, I've never influenced by anyone! I just eat whatever I think it's needed in my body. I mean you don't have stopped eating sweets & sugar even you have diabetes. Just take less! Our body still them, right!
    Have a nice day!
    Cheers, Kristy

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  28. Btw, I still prefer to take the staircase if it is only one or two levels away! Or park your car a little away from your destination so that you can walk all the way. Eventhough it's only a short distance, yet make a lot of difference if you doing it everyday!

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  29. I love what you said---having a good time doesnt equal unhealthy foods! why do we always equate celebrating by going out and eating pizza etc? I think finding other things to celebrate with is important.

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  30. I love what you said about having a good time doesnt mean eating unhealthy!

    our culture is so focused on using food as rewards for things---there are just more important things in life ya know?

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