Team time - social support in health changes.
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
You've stacked the fridge with fruit and veg, you've got your meals planned for the week, you've planned out your exercise, and you're ready go!
Then your partner comes home...with your favourite bar of chocolate...
Having our family and friends support our health choices is so important. It takes a lot of self-control to change those pesky bad habits, but having people to support you and encourage you makes a huge difference.
In my practice, one of the things that I see people trip over is the unhealthy habits of other people. We like to think it shouldn't matter, that we will just restrain ourselves, but if someone is eating a delicious-looking brownie right in front of you, its pretty hard to resist!
The best thing to do is to ask your family and friends, and even your co-workers, to help you stay on the right track. Over time it becomes easier, but in that first period of change, the temptation can be intense!
Hopefully, the people close to you are supportive. They may pledge to make healthy changes too - this helps to keep you both on track by being "accountabili-buddies". Having someone to exercise with, share recipes with, and check in with can really help you feel supported.
Sometimes, the people around you won't want to (or feel the need to) make changes too. That's fine, it doesn't mean you can't. The important thing is that people understand how they can best help you in their own way. For example, in the situation above, ask your partner not to bring home additional snacks for you. If your partner is one for unhealthy snacking, ask them not to do it in front of you, and to keep the snacks out of sight (e.g. on the top shelf of the pantry) so that temptation isn't going to hit you in the face every time you go for a healthy snack.
At work, unhealthy snacks can be rife in the office. Make sure to bring your own healthy snacks (that you enjoy!) so you won't get desperate and head to the biscuit tin. Ask your colleagues to help you by putting the unhealthy snacks in a cupboard so that you don't see them every time you hit the break room, and not thrusting temptations under your nose.
Often, if you explain your requests, people will be supportive. Many people have been in the same situation after all, and you may inspire other people to make healthy changes as well!