Monkey See, Monkey Eat?

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and said to yourself, "I'm only going to have..." only to find yourself eating just as much as everyone else? Chances are you have, and it's happened more than once.

Humans are highly social animals, we're also highly influenced by the cues of those around us, whether it be fashion, music, TV-- or food-- we often want what we see someone else enjoying.

So what happens when you let someone else's food decisions influence yours? If that person is in great physical shape and eats a clean diet rich in vitamins & nutrients, then you're in luck! But it's far more likely that you're surrounded by people who eat too much fast-food, super size everything and still make room for dessert. This type of eating will lead you down the path to obesity and adverse health conditions - even an early death.

So how do you help curb this potentially fatal habit of "monkey-see-monkey-do"? Simple: Become the Influencer. Instead of following what your friends, family and co-workers are consuming, set the tone yourself. By showing restraint you're not only exercising self-discipline, you're conveying the message to others that you control your hunger, not vice versa.

Instead of going out for dinner with your friend and ordering 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and 2 desserts, why not order 2 appetizers (preferably the healthy options), share an entree and a dessert. Not only are you eating less, you also have more time in between courses to actually talk! The other added benefit is you're saving money (which you can spend on those skinny jeans you'll be fitting into). All you have to say to your server is, "we're going to share the..." and the kitchen will split the meal for you. If that's not an option, still order the single item and ask for a share plate; you can split the meal at the table yourself.

Chances are you've already decided that you want to drink - but remember, Alcohol is empty calories. You may not think that drinking can be nearly the same as eating out, but here are some figures to consider:

1oz of 80 proof (40% alcohol) gin, rum, vodka or whiskey is 64 calories
3.5oz glass of wine is 85 calories
12oz bottle of beer is 153 calories

If you prefer mixed drinks, you might be in for a shock:

6.8oz Pina Colada is 526 calories, 3.9g of sugar AND 16.9g of fat!
3.5oz Whiskey Sour (1.5oz of liquor) is 162 calories and 13.6g of sugar

Maybe you'll just have a Red Bull & vodka? A can of Red Bull contains 110 calories and 27g of sugar(!!!), PLUS the 64 calories from the 1oz of vodka.

So instead of going out and drinking till you're cross-eyed, you have a couple and then switch to water, pellegrino or un-sweetened iced tea. There's nothing wrong with actually remembering what you did last night. Don't want to be labelled as the party-pooper? Offer to be the designated driver, or simply say "I'd rather be enjoying a drink poolside on vacation looking fabulous in my swimsuit." Remember, it's called a Beer Belly for a reason.

At Home/With Family:
We already know that child obesity is an epidemic sweeping across the planet. Why not be the positive change in your family's life by showing them you can eat less and still enjoy your meal. Not only should you try and prepare all your meals yourself (so you know what's going into them), but take the time to enjoy what you're eating. It's not a race to see who can finish the fastest and almost everyone has a PVR, so it's not like you'll miss your favourite show. Instead of racing for seconds-- or dishing out more food on your kid's plate-- wait 10 minutes and see if you're still hungry. It's takes the body time to send the signal to your brain that you're full. You can always pack up what's left and take it for lunch the next day-- another easy way to avoid eating out!

Taking control of what you put in your body is the first step to nutritional wellness and weight management. Avoid the peer-pressure and social cues to eat unhealthy or to excess by visualizing your end goal. Imagine how much better you'll look in 6 months by breaking these habits now - don't be afraid to share your goals with others, help them make goals for themselves too.

Remember, YOU want to be the Influencer.

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