You’ve made the decision to work on your health. You get up early to have a healthy breakfast and bring a salad to work. During lunch, you will join your colleagues and you may already be able to guess what comment you get about your healthy meal. Your colleagues unintentionally put you in the spotlight by asking you all kinds of questions. Not everyone is at ease in this situation.
How social pressure arises
Deep down, we all know we’re not getting the most out of our health. We can suppress the potential to become healthier, or we can take action. If you are someone who takes action, your environment immediately picks it up. Your friends, family and colleagues can deal with it in different ways. The best way is if they support you and perhaps also make changes themselves. You encourage each other and there is a stronger bond.
There is also a negative form of social pressure. This occurs when annoying jokes are made for a long time. I believe that social pressure arises because you indirectly challenge people with your healthy eating habits to eat healthily as well. Deep down, everyone has a reason to eat healthier. If you take the lead and set an example, others can follow you or resist by making it ridiculous.
What can you do about it?
If you experience social pressure, you have a few options. You can engage in discussion, which often leads to mutual frustration. You can ignore it, only it doesn’t solve the problem. It is best to make sure that others can relate to your choice. You tell your colleagues, for example, that by eating healthier food I not only lose weight, but that annoying afternoon dip also helps me to be more productive.
Keeping up the mirror
You can also put your finger on the sore spot by saying with a smile: “I understand that you don’t entirely agree with my choice of healthy food. Is it possible that this reminds you that you should do something about your own health?” Few people are prepared for a reaction like this. You can use this to break through the standard line of thought of another person and then come up with something constructive together.
My personal situation
I’m renting a small office space in a multi-company building. During the first few days that I was having my salad during the lunch together, I received several remarks. The best I liked was: ‘why do you eat that rabbit feed?’ I explained to the person in question that I have worked more than 50 hours a week for the past two weeks and that if I want to remain productive, I will not save it on bread, pasta and rice. The reaction I got was surprising. He admitted to being tired often and didn’t know that healthy food could improve his work performance. He now also eats a salad at lunch on a regular basis and tries to influence others in a positive way.