Your Guide to Avoiding Negative Peer Pressure This Holiday Season

Dr. Sacha Obaid, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Serving Dallas, Plano, Southlake, and Nearby Fort Worth, Texas

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Peer pressure is something you might think of as only involving children and teenagers, but, unfortunately, adults aren’t immune. During the holidays in particular, peer pressure often revolves around food in ways that make food difficult to refuse, even when you don’t want it. Overeating can set back your prep for a plastic surgery procedure and prevent you from achieving the look of your best self.

How can you avoid negative peer pressure during the holiday season?

Choose your indulgences, and enjoy them.

First of all, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to entirely forgo your favorite holiday treats, but if you’re planning to stick to your healthy-eating plan over the holidays, it’s important to choose your treats wisely.

negative peer pressureOne good option is to indulge in those foods that you particularly like but only get the opportunity to eat around the holidays, like gingerbread cookies, sweet potatoes, or egg nog. Allowing yourself these treats means you get to enjoy your favorite seasonal dishes. Avoiding the feeling of deprivation also helps you better withstand peer pressure from those around you.

You don’t have to explain if you don’t want to.

What if someone is pressuring you into trying a piece of pie or a slice of cake, but you’ve already eaten plenty and just don’t want any more? Maybe you’d rather stick to your healthy-eating commitment and avoid a second helping of dessert. Do you refuse, or do you give in and take the food so that no one feels offended?

You can accept the food and take just one bite, or you can pretend to eat it. Alternatively, you might say you’re too full to eat or that you’re saving room for dessert and then change the subject.

However, if someone keeps pressuring you, and you really don’t want to be pushed into accepting the food, understand that there’s no reason why you should. Politely but firmly say, “No, thank you,” and if you want that to be the end of the discussion, it can be.

This goes for anything else that you feel pressured into doing or saying. A simple “No, thanks” is enough, and if you don’t feel like explaining the reason why, you don’t have to. In fact, sometimes it’s better not to explain because it gives the other person an opening to continue pressuring you by arguing with your reasons.

Set clear boundaries.

Sometimes peer pressure comes from well-meaning but nosy friends and relatives who pry into your private life or do something else that makes you feel uncomfortable; you don’t want to say anything in case they get upset. These episodes can leave you feeling resentful and angry, which puts a damper on your holiday spirits.

In these situations, boundary-setting can be a useful tactic. Use a simple phrase such as, “Please don’t pressure me about eating food if I refuse it. That makes me feel uncomfortable.” If the person continues to pressure you, simply repeat your chosen phrase, and, if possible, walk away from them.

Remember that when you’re setting boundaries in this way, you’re telling someone that their specific behavior is making you uncomfortable. If they continue with that behavior, they’re doing it with the knowledge of how it makes you feel—you’re perfectly justified in walking away.

Finally, remember that peer pressure can make you feel bad no matter the intent behind it, but the way you decide to respond to it does make a difference. If you’re able to respond politely in a way that’s in line with your own desires and values, you’ll ultimately have a much more positive experience than if you decide to give in just for the sake of peace. When it comes to a healthy-eating plan, whether to prep for a procedure you’ve been wanting or to stay in shape after one, you deserve to be the best you. Stick to it!

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