Sharing food is one of the most basic ways that human beings bond with one another.
We celebrate our religious holidays with food.
Lifetime fitness amenities – Family get-togethers center on food. We get to know potential romantic partners by going to a restaurant to eat food.
When we have an office party: food
When we have a block party: food
Rites of passage are brought to a close by gathering around food.
Lifetime fitness amenities – Our first bond with another human being is developed through food: the mother breastfeeding her infant.
But food can also be a basis of social conflict, especially when you start saying “no” to unhealthy food, partly because of our strong attachments to each other. There’s the family conflict, such as, “Why aren’t you eating my chocolate cake, I made it just for you?”
There’s the unspoken friendship conflict: “If you don’t want to make me uncomfortable, you will keep eating the same food we are used to eating with each other.” And there’s the silent vampy conflict. “I don’t like her thinking she’s better than me with all those healthy food choices she’s making.”
Lifetime fitness amenities – Because food is so social, it can be hard to make choices that are different from the choices of people around us.
Some people might be supportive when you make that important shift from unhealthy to healthy eating habits. Some might even be inspired by your choices and decide to follow suit. Other people might take your choices as personal to them. They react as if your healthier food choices are a negative reflection on the choices they are making.
The “dark side” to food as a medium for social bonding is that it is loaded with social judgments. People judge themselves and each other for what they eat.
And it’s not just “healthy versus unhealthy” kinds of judgments.
If you say “no” to a food that to symbolizes love or friendship to the person offering it, they might not think you are saying no to the effects of the food on your body. They might assume you are saying no to what the food symbolizes to them.
Complicated stuff to deal with, especially given the fact that making the transition to a healthy food lifestyle is already hard enough,
But dealing with the social complications around food doesn’t have to do you in. You don’t have to cave to social pressure, and you don’t have to isolate yourself from people who have unhealthy eating habits. You just need to remember how loaded the topic of food is to some people, and prepare for it in advance. Usually all it takes is having a few prepared explanations for your food choices.
By having a prepared explanation for your consistent “no” to certain foods, you can safely make your way through a social minefield by presenting your explanation in a way that minimizes some people’s tendency to interpret your choices as personal to them