Norms and ideas spread to others. All the science of stripping out processed food and sugar, and improving your nutrition creates metabolic changes that can help YOU stick with it. It can become easier for your palate, your liver and muscles, and even your brain, to need and thrive on healthier, more balanced foods, making staying away from the bad stuff a self-reinforcing habit.
But perhaps bigger than those physical changes, are the habits you may develop that carry over to those around you, they go viral. Your influence is powerful, even if you aren’t aware of it!
Science and the Social Network
We like this remarkable Ted Talk here (follow the image or link) from Nicholas Christakis, called The Hidden Influence of Social Networks, that illustrates some science behind the social network’s impact on our chances for great health and happiness, or our risk for obesity and depression.
What we know is the secret to nutritional success is not will power, but it’s your environment. If you've ever changed your environment to develop new habits like recording what you eat, creating a plan, grocery shopping, meal prepping, reading labels for sugar and artificial products, not buying those products, saying no to alcohol, exercising frequently, and even sharing recipes, ideas and successes with others in your own personal social network.
Perhaps these environmental and habit shifts have come not only from committing to some changes, but from something you’ve seen or been influenced by, yourself. You saw something someone posted about their own health and fitness progress. You’ve seen some people at the gym make improvements to their performance or body composition. Or maybe you realized it’s really simple to create a short goal list or meal plan each week and work to achieve it.
What’s also likely is that you have or will influence those around you into making some adjustments without even realizing it. If you cook for a family, they’re eating better! If you’ve gone out to dinner and modified an order or asked what things are cooked in, your coworkers and friends follow suit. Maybe your friends have had one less drink or forgo the desserts because of your focus. Just like emotions, people can read and connect with what we each do day-to-day, and if you’re demonstrating excellent new, healthy habits, others around you may instinctively replicate or follow.
We often joke about the opposite happening to us…that a spouse of a pregnant woman might gain sympathy weight, that a college student heads off to gain the freshman fifteen pounds, that we hit 40 and it’s all about weight gain.
There is truth to this social phenomenon working both directions, for improvements and leading to problems. If our environment is the secret to our nutritional success, consider making decisions that not only help you succeed (create the environmental conditions that you need - friends, food, family, fitness, etc.) but also be inclusive in your outreach to others.