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Let's be the change

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported on an interesting survey.  During January 2012, at the request of Medi-Weight Loss Clinics , Survey Sampling International surveyed 325 women concerning challenges at work.  While I consider the word “diet” as a four letter word, the survey used it often.  To the many community members I meet, diet means deprivation or something that they will do for awhile.  It does not convey the lifestyle change needed to reduce weight or to maintain weight.  I prefer to use words such as: “healthy food choices” or “health promoting choices”.   To report their survey, though, I will need to use their word, “diet”.

The survey focused on the challenges faced while trying to make healthy food choices while at work, with friends or family.  The article reported the following data from the survey:

How do others interfere with your diet?

  • Pressure me to eat foods not on my diet:  53%
  • Cook and serve food not on my diet:  40%
  • Make jokes about my diet: 35%
  • Order me restaurant food that is not on my diet: 31%

Who makes you uncomfortable admitting you are on a diet?

  • Friends: 28%
  • Relatives: 21%
  • Colleagues: 18%
  • Spouse: 14%
  • Boss: 5%

Why did you feel pressured to break your diet?

  • Don’t want to insult the host, boss, client or family member: 56%
  • Want to eat like everyone else and be part of the crowd:  51%
  • Don’t want to call attention to my diet or weight:  41%

As I read these questions, I wondered why people who are making healthy choices feel so pressured.  In my ideal world, I want the individuals who are choosing non-health promoting foods to feel the pressure.  As the Alegent Health and Live Well Omaha program states: “Make the easy choice, the healthy choice”.   I want people on the Journey to a Lean Lifestyle to be assertive.

We have the power, if we speak up!

As a former social work major for my Bachelor’s degree, I think we promote change through kind words and deeds.  If you know that at a certain meeting, someone will always bring donuts, you be the source of change.  Stop by your local grocery store and purchase some mini bagels, lite cream cheese or peanut butter.  Bring that to the meeting.  By offering other choices you help yourself and in time, the donuts may not be offered.  Other items to bring along are light vanilla yogurt, granola, and some type of berries to allow people to make their own yogurt sundaes.  Fresh fruit, especially in the summer, is another choice.

Please notice that none of these items require you to cook so that should help with the time factor.  If you are not comfortable bringing extra items, at least bring it for yourself.  If comments are heard, a simple reply of, “I enjoy yogurt sundaes," will suffice.  Practice friendly but assertive statements so they will be in your memory and easily recalled.

Prior to returning to college to study nutrition, I was a “health nut”.  One day, our eight year old son came home from school and said, “no one eats like us”.  I simply replied; “That makes me sad. I want people to feel good like we do.”  He seemed fine with that reply as he reached for an apple for his snack.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” is one of the famous quotes from Mahatma Gandhi.  Instead of wishing for support from friends and family or complaining about the lack of it, we can be proactive.  Let’s begin the change!

CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team
CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team

These blogs are written by members of the CHI Health Nutrition Services team.

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