When I ask my clients how dieting negatively impacts them, they almost always talk about how it adversely affects their social life.
It sounds something like this:
I stay home a lot on the weekends because I’m afraid if I go to a party I’ll break down and eat a bunch of food I shouldn’t be eating.
Even though I’d like to, I don’t go out to lunch with my coworkers since the places they like don’t serve anything I can eat. Instead, I eat my packed lunch at my desk while scrolling through Instagram.
I skip a lot of family gatherings because there’s always so much food, including many of my childhood favorites. I don’t want to be tempted and fall off the wagon.
Rather than hang out with my friends on the weekends, I spend hours alone in my kitchen preparing my allowed foods for the upcoming week.
I’d really like to meet someone, but dating is hard since I don’t eat after 6:00 p.m.
I get anxious about consuming too many calories/points/carbs when eating out with my friends so I often make excuses about why I can’t join them.
I avoid taking trips if I won’t be able to control what food I’ll have access to. It’s just too stressful.
I skip my company’s happy hours because I don’t need all those cocktail calories.
I bring my own diet-friendly meal to dinner parties, but end up feeling left out when my friends rave about how good the food is they're sharing.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Social Life Suffers
When you place a lot of rules and restrictions on your eating, your social life can suffer tremendously.
Following a diet and/or living with a diet mentality makes it really hard to engage fully in your life.
It's difficult to be flexible in different food situations and eating environments, to go with the flow and be open to new experiences.
Your life becomes very restricted, contracted and small.
If you’re afraid of eating the “wrong” things, losing control with food and blowing your diet, it’s completely understandable why you would want to isolate yourself. You’re simply trying to be good, to protect yourself, to keep yourself safe.
Harmful to Your Health
Yet, the social isolation dieting can cause not only sucks all the fun and joy out of your life, it can also be harmful to your health.
Research shows that a lack of social connections is a greater detriment to health than smoking and high blood pressure and contributes to loneliness, depression and anxiety.
Whereas, strong social connections lead to a 50 percent increased chance of longevity.
Drives Emotional Eating
Many of my clients share that the social isolation they experience when dieting leaves them feeling bored, lonely, anxious and sad.
As a result, they understandably turn to their forbidden foods, especially when alone, in an attempt to fulfill the innate human need for connection, companionship, comfort and pleasure.
Unfortunately, this often provides them with false evidence that they can’t be trusted with food and need to pull the restriction reins in tighter.
Not Inherently Dieters
Human beings are inherently social creatures. We are not inherently restrictive eaters.
We thrive when we regularly nourish ourselves with a wide variety of satisfying, pleasurable foods—as well as deep, fulfilling social connections.
If your diet keeps you stuck at home, afraid of socializing and losing control with food, I encourage you to truly consider if it's worth restricting your life for.