About eight years ago I gave up smoking. It was undoubtedly one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but definitely one of the best things I could have done for my health. I come from a family of smokers and I have a lot of friends who smoked, so I was still around people smoking quite a bit. I remember being surprised by how often I would be sitting having a coffee with a smoker and when they would light up a cigarette, they would say something like “I won’t offer you one, because I know you’ve quit, but I’ll just leave the pack here, and sure if you want one, take one!” People do the exact same thing with food. It can often feel when you are trying to make lifestyle changes that other people are continually trying to tempt you. Is it a case that misery loves company? Well maybe, but I think there are some other reasons why this could also be happening.
Irish Mammy Syndrome: We are all familiar with the character Mrs. Doyle in Father Ted. I think the thing that makes her so funny and relatable, is that most of us know at least one woman who is exactly like her. We all have that one Granny, or aunt or friend, that no sooner have we walked through their front door than they are foisting all sorts of tempting treats in our direction. Maybe it’s a hangover from our famine days, but it really is an Irish thing that when someone comes to your home, you must feed them, whether they like it or not.
I have been known to be a bit of a feeder myself, so I can understand the urge people have to make sure their guests are well looked after. The people who do this are generally well meaning and there usually isn’t any malice involved. They are good people to keep around! However, if you plan on steering clear of their dietary pitfalls, you may need to come up with a strategy. Usually a polite “no, thank you” will not suffice. My advice is to tell a white lie. Anything from “I’ve just eaten,” to “my dentist says I should avoid sugar.” DO NOT tell the person that you are trying to lose weight, or get healthy. This will only open a Pandora’s box. They will insist that their recipe is Weight Watchers approved, only 100 calories, baked by Peruvian virgins or whatever, and you will have to start lots of sentences with the words “I know, but…” There’s a very real danger that you will end up eating the bloody thing just keep the peace. If the Mrs. Doyle in your life is your husband’s granny and you see her twice a year, then maybe indulge the lady. However, if she sits beside you in work, you are going to have to be firm.
Green Eyed Monsters: It is an unfortunate fact of life that there are come people around you who categorically do not want to see you doing well. Whether it is a new relationship, a new job or a new healthy regime, these people will always begrudge it. They are fairly easy to identify. They are the ones who won’t ask you any questions, won’t like your posts on social media and will never tell you they are happy for you. Sometimes they are driven by their own insecurities, and sometimes it is just plain jealousy. Whatever their motives, there is really only one way to deal with these people, avoidance. Wherever possible remove them from your life. You will never get acceptance from them and their negativity will suck the joy out of all your achievements. If you have no choice but to be around them, limit the amount of information you give them. Don’t allow them too much air time.
I thought about writing this blog for a number of years before I ever put pen to paper. I am loath to admit it, but it was fear of the opinions of these types that kept me from pursuing something which I am deeply passionate about. Eventually I came to the realisation that no matter what you do, they will find something negative to say, so you may as well go ahead and make yourself happy. As the song says “Haters gonna hate!”
The Fear Factor: If you have unhealthy habits, chances are you have friends with whom you engage in them. Whether it be gambling to excess, drinking to excess or eating to excess, if you are doing it, you are probably doing so with somebody else. The problem arises when you decide to make a change. You decide you want to become a healthier person, so instead of going for a drink every night, you are going to limit it to weekends and special occasions. But where does this leave your friend? They are not ready to make the change you are making and now they have lost their drinking buddy. Furthermore, they might worry about how they will fit in to your new healthy lifestyle, if at all. All of this fear and doubt may lead them to consciously or otherwise try to derail your efforts.
Just as with the Irish Mammy, these folks will come up with myriad reasons why you really should go to the pub on a Tuesday night. There will be matches to be watched, important conversations to be had etc. Also similarly to the Irish Mammy type, this may need to be handled with a degree of sensitivity. If you still want the person in your life, you may need to reassure them of this. Coming up with a new activity for you both to do together might be a good way around this. Plus that will have the added benefit of getting your friend healthier by proxy!
Supersized Sabotage: We all love to get a bargain. You just have to look at the Black Friday phenomenon to know that this is true. I love special offers as much as the next girl, and I have been guilty of ending up with a year’s supply of toiletries because they were buy one get one free. Where we get into trouble with this is with food.
So it’s Friday night, you have decided you are going to have your off plan meal. You and your partner pour over the take away menus and after much debate settle on pizza. You have decided exactly what to order before you pick up the phone. Say you decide to order a large pizza and it’s going to cost you €15. You call the restaurant and they tell you that for €20 you can have 2 large pizzas. Wow, that’s a great deal, right? WRONG! The one pizza that you wanted, had planned for and had been looking forward to is one thing. However if you get a second one, that’s a whole different ball game. If you decide to take them up on their amazing offer, one of three things will happen. You will eat twice the amount you had intended to for dinner, you will eat the second pizza for breakfast (no judgement, I have done this many times) or you will end up throwing it in the bin. Whatever the outcome it is a complete waste of money and or calories.
The same thing happens in supermarkets and convenience stores. We know we are being sold to, but the allure of an offer can be too much to resist. I am by no means telling you not to buy the bar of chocolate or packet of crisps that you have been craving. I am telling you, however, not to buy more of them than you will feel good about eating. We all have trigger foods, things that we can’t have around us or we will eat. Multi-packs of these items should be avoided at all costs. You don’t need to put your will power to the test like that. Scientists say that we make an average of 200 food choices everyday. So make it easy for yourself to make the right ones. Just order one damn pizza!
As always, any questions you have you can ask through my Fadebook page. Also if you have any topics that you would like me to discuss, let me know xxx