Peer Pressure Strategies

Hey Folks, here we are today with the author Precision Nutrition who gives us a few strategies to help us avoid the temptations to fill up on foods that satisfy your sweet tooth.

However, before we get into today’s expert interview with Dr. John Berardi let’s take a look at last day’s post to get a better understanding on how you can make a positive lifestyle change for you and your family.


CRAIG BALLANTYNE: I’ve got one more little question here, and then we’ll wrap up the transformation and change stuff.  Whether they’re reading this for them or in the trainer perspective this is going to make some amazing changes to the way that they help people make their own changes.

And so the last thing I want to ask you about is the person who is just getting started, they’re struggling a little. And not only are they fighting against themselves, but they’re fighting against the PEER PRESSURE in the world around them. So what are some of the best coping strategies you’ve seen people use, or you’ve helped people with to avoid the peer pressure of those who are in their offices that are negative about healthy change?  Especially during this time a year with all the  post-Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas distractions that will come into the office place.

JOHN BERARDI: Yeah.  Well, when you look at things from a social network perspective as well as a pathway perspective you can see that there are two things at work here, right? You can see that sometimes peer pressure is your friend saying, “Come on, and eat the donut.  It’s not going to kill you. You’re so healthy already anyway,” So it’s the person who’s is actually saying words and encouraging  you to do what you don’t want to do, like  “Come on, let’s go out drinking. Come on, you never come with us.  You’ve got to come this time.” So there’s that kind of peer pressure.

However, there’s also the peer pressure of a pathway like you say. For example, showing up at up at someone’s house for Christmas dinner and there aren’t any healthy foods to eat there. Even though they won’t give you a hard time about it or say anything about it, you know it’s the pathway that isn’t shaped for your ideal scenario.

So how do you deal with peer pressure? We’ll I am actually going to reference back to the Heath brother’s book Switch again and their analogy. So the whole premise of their book is basically this, and I love the concept. They say that people often talk about how hard change is, but we don’t act like it in a lot of circumstances.

For example, a new iPhone comes out. So let’s say it was the first iPhone version that came out. No one’s used anything like an iPhone before, so it would be a pretty massive change to your personal communication and data storage and all that kind of stuff to go with an iPhone, and millions of people happily did it. They paid hundreds of dollars to do it. And why did they pay to do it? To change the way they’re computing, to change the way they’re interacting with people on the phone, through text messaging, or whatever. So in that case change wasn’t very hard.

What about in the case where someone gets married? They enthusiastically enter this wedding contract with someone and pay 20, 30, 50, 70 – I think people spend upwards of a hundred grand on a wedding happily. Why? Well, if the change was so hard it would have never gotten married in the first place and paid loads of money to do it. Having a family is another example. You want to have a kid so you and your partner decide to procreate. That’s a massive change, but people are doing it happily.

So we don’t act like change is hard sometimes but other times we do. The same thing goes with peer pressure. There are a lot of groups out there who say peer pressure is so hard to overcome, and there are a lot of groups out there that don’t act like it. For example, vegetarians, vegans, or someone who doesn’t eat meat or animal products. You don’t see them out in public wavering or saying “that burger looks so good.”  Or having their friends chime in by saying, “Yeah, you should have this burger.” They just don’t do it generally.  Vegans, vegetarians, are people who don’t seem to have a problem with peer pressure.

What about people who eat – let’s say Muslims during Ramadan. It seems like an odd example, but I get loads of people contacting me during Ramadan. They say, “Hey, you talked about eating every few hours, but I can’t right now.” So they’re people who all the pressure in the world is stacked up against them. They’re awake. They’re hungry and they are hearing people are saying, “Eat every few hours.”  And they just don’t do it. So they’re not falling into that peer pressure even though it’s hard. People who do intermittent fasting it’s the same deal as well as those who eat kosher.

So what’s the difference between them and the rest of us that makes us say, “Oh God, that peer pressure is getting to me,” versus them who say, “Yeah, I just don’t eat until sundown.”  Well, it’s one thing. It’s a pre-decision. Folks that don’t have a problem with peer pressure, THEY PRE-DECIDE AND THE DECISION IS NON-NEGOTIABLE. They don’t make decisions on the fly.

This is what a lot of people who exercise or who are trying to begin an exercising program and those who are starting eating well mistake this mistake. They fail to pre-decide. They say, “Tomorrow I’ll wake up and see how I feel,” and then decide if they want to go to the gym or not, and becomes this massive indecision process. It becomes this little tennis battle batting this “should I go to the gym” back and forth across the net.

If they would have been pre-decided, let’s say before they went to bed by saying, “I’m going to the gym tomorrow at 6:00.” They laid out their clothes for the gym, and so it’s already pre-decided, it’s set up.  They set their alarm. They put it halfway across the room, so they can’t hit the snooze. They’ve been pre-decided to exercise. Then when it comes time to exercise it’s no longer a moment of tension. There’s no longer this, “Should I, shouldn’t I?  Should I, shouldn’t I?”  It’s just going to happen.

So the same thing happens with food. We decide, “Should I have dessert or not?” If you’re asking, “Should I have a dessert?” when the dessert menu’s in front of you, or even worse the server brings out  five or six awesome looking dessert options, chances are you’re going to eat the dessert. You have to pre-decide just like these other people do.

SO THE BEST STRATEGY FOR COPING WITH PEER PRESSURE is making a pre-decision, a non-negotiable pre-decision, before you’re ever in a circumstance where you can be tempted because the temptation can be great at times wither is it to sleep in, to eat the dessert, whatever the case may be. However, if you made a pre-decision it doesn’t matter.  You’re like the vegan who says, “No, that doesn’t look good to me because I already decided that I don’t eat meat.” You’re like the Muslim going through Ramadan saying, “Oh, well—”, it’s just non-negotiable. I don’t eat until sundown.  That’s how you cope with peer pressure, you pre-decide.

CRAIG BALLANTYNE:  That’s a brilliant way of putting it. Thank you very much, John. This is the best examples that you can possibly give on that. Thank you so much.

Ok, I hope you all can join me tomorrow where we begin to wrap this series up with part 8.

  • Excellent article! I try and tell my clients this all the time. Mind over matter – your mind, not your friend’s 🙂