The Buddy System for Weight Loss

Have you ever been at a bar/restaurant, couldn’t decide what to order so you turned to your friend or significant other to ask what they’re ordering?  (Unless it’s something outlandish) it somehow helps to settle your thoughts and figure out what to order yourself.

Research has shown that food choices are highly influenced by what others are eating around you.  Maybe you were ready to order that apple pie a la mode after dinner but then had sudden (or guilty) change of heart because everyone else decided to pass on dessert? Womp womp.

shutterstock_251813212You’re more likely to make healthy choices if the people around are making healthy choices; just like you are more likely to choose unhealthier items when people around you are on a P.O.P sesh (packing on the pounds).

Other research has shown that your friends (or those closest to you) influence the size of your waist and body. The stronger the relationship between you and your friend(s), the more closely your body size will resemble theirs.  This happens over time because you start to share thoughts and ideas about what proper body size should be, from peer pressure or just mirroring what your friends are doing/eating (similar food choices) some times without even thinking about it.

Whether you want to lose weight or just eat healthier, goals become much easier to reach by teaming up with a buddy. But it can’t be any buddy. Although your bestie might be your first choice, what if they’re not ready to make a lifestyle change? You’ll constantly sit down for lunch with the intention of ordering a salad only to change your mind as your friend starts to order a basket of fried mozzarella sticks or fries.

No matter how much effort you put into finding the right diet, having the right partner makes a huge difference.  Your buddy should share similar health goals so that you can be each other’s support, motivation, and hold each other accountable for actions.  You should be able to have a heart-to-heart with this person about your goals, how you plan to achieve them and any problems or set backs you might encounter.

It’s important to consider and discuss mutual availability.  Can you text this person “S.O.S.” in the middle of the night right before a food emergency? Will they be able to contact you? How far away do you live from each other?  Whether you need a buddy for face-to-face contact or prefer virtual (email or text) contact—make sure to pick a buddy with similar availability or contact needs.

Signing a “buddy contract” (as silly as it sounds) will help you to really take things seriously and stick to the plan.  The contract should describe what the mutual goals are and how to achieve them.  Set a successful goal, by following these key ideas.  Both parties should sign the contract and keep copies on your fridge or other visible area so that you are constantly reminded of it.

Your buddy should enhance your journey to health or weight loss and make it easier to achieve at the same time.  If this isn’t happening, then it may be time to look for a new buddy.

 

By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian

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