Edburnsfat.com Relationships How your Friends Keep you Fat

How your Friends Keep you Fat

“If you hang out with 4 other smokers, you will be the 5th” An adage popular for a reason and beyond that of smoking. The attention of one’s friends has a direct and indirect influence on behavior, being consistent within a social environment was and still is a critical survival skill that is so important it has embedded itself deep within the subconscious. A person who did not go with the flow of his or her tribe would risk alienation, isolation, attack, or foregone opportunities from the group. This tribal glue works especially strong with the social staple of sharing a meal together; it is not only the act of sharing a table but also what food at the table is consumed. Everyone at the table is advertising their decisions when they put their food down at the table, and a health food deal is a big clash of consistency with cokes, beers, and fried foods. If these mismatches are appearing in your life, know that they are subtractive to your will to commit to better eating because these people will welcome you back, and be validated in the event that you do give up.

“But Ed, I don’t want to give up my friends!”

I get that, and I’m going to give you all the options you have in confronting this social influence, because ignorance of it absolutely will sabotage you and keep you from better health. The options you have are, persuasion, negotiation, acceptance, avoidance, and termination. All of these come with pros and cons listed below.


You can try and get your friends on board with your ambition for better eating, this is the most win-win solution since your friends trying along with you will make more for you two to relate about when you sit down to eat. Accountability from your immediate social circle can be a tremendous help in the beginning when inertia is trying to keep you in the comfort of your old ways.


This one is a bit more difficult because you are essentially putting up terms, conditions, and asterisks to make it so the other person’s food decisions are mitigated or sidestepped from your effort to change for the better. You may still keep your friend but be warned, this option is abrasive and more win lose. You are risking the other person’s reaction when this conversation limits and pushes you away from them and is most likely going to result in an argument.

“Why do I have to change because of you?”
“Now you get all holier than thou because you want to eat healthy?”

Etc. Etc.

I don’t advise this option, it’s a compromise at best and will likely stir later problems or delay the inevitable if whoever this is doesn’t open themselves up to the first option of persuasion and their own drive to improve themselves.


By far the easiest option but flawed in consistency. You permit others in life to do as they wish, and take on extra burden to change in order to preserve your current social circle. While this is possible and sometimes viable if the people your with provide considerable value in other ways of your life, it is harder and does bring an expense of energy in your interactions. There will be times where this is the only option since it’s impossible to have total control of people, but do what you can to be aware of what unseen forces are trying to influence your mind and don’t stick around to let it break down your resolve.


Another easy short-term but difficult and painful long-term solution. You begin avoiding the people who are detrimental to your diet success, but this will very quickly incur consequences once a pattern is noticed.

“I haven’t seen you much lately, where have you been?”

“Hey, have you been busy? Want to go catch up over some food?”

You will quickly find yourself back at option 1 or 2. Or if this doesn’t happen and no response happens when you leave, then these people were never your friends to begin with. Avoidance will get the bad influence of the person, but probably invite anxiety, stress, and you essentially make a poor trade. Don’t expect this to be an optimal decision.


Tearing the band-aid off in one go, this is the most extreme choice you have and can work great for people with a “do or die” mentality. If others cannot or will not see the importance of trying to obtain a healthier life, than this will be your second best option, or first if you don’t think they’re worth the effort of persuading.

Other relationships besides Friends.

Throughout this article I’ve written on the premise that the people in question are voluntary relationships that you have a fair amount of choice in their selection, online or offline. And these options and fundamental truth still holds even for people such as family, lovers, and roommates. If the person has any stage time with your attention, they are influencing you. If someone who lives with you is leaving chocolate cake or processed foods in the fridge next to your health food, you are going to see that temptation each and every time you open the refrigerator. These are more problematic in their consequences and may warrant you to try harder working for a win-win solution, but remember the constant:

If the person has any stage time with your attention, they are influencing you.”

Even people who are not really your friend such as the people you follow online; your attention is profoundly important as it shapes what your life turns into. What you pay attention to consistently will be what your mind works to achieve when going about the day. Health and diet is easily one of the most important things that you can be concerned about along with sleep. There has never existed a great life with coincidental or accidental answers to these topics, they will happen every day for the rest of everyone’s life until it’s over. They will build the quality of your entire life every day until your last.

It’s time to take them serious.


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