I have one set of really healthy friends. They’re mostly actors or dancers, and eating healthy is second nature to them. We get together, and eat ‘grilled’ or ‘poached’ items and we NEVER order fries. Alcohol is a rare treat, and even then moderation is the key.

Another set of friends I have are perennially on one diet or another. One is doing keto, one is on meal replacements,  & one is Jain trying to do keto. Whenever we spend time together its like one long list of what NOT to eat.

Both sets of people may seem the same to the untrained eye. But there is a key difference.

The first set has chosen health as a lifestyle. The second; as a temporary torture to be endured.

When I hang out with my dancer friends, I’m not judged for refusing a beer or choosing a salad. I love my food, but portion control is easy. We all share a dessert and no one feels deprived. We discuss our current fitness regimens, and talk about progress we made at our class or personal practice.

When I hang out with ‘the dieters’, everything is a punishment and a torture. Calories are counted in a painful manner, dessert is refused with a heavy sigh, and the wine is only drooled at longingly. Exercise is a torture, and liposuction is freely discussed as a viable option.

Inviting this group over is like ‘Hosting a famine’ as Erma Bombeck would have said.

Oddly, that’s the group that makes me want to binge. I rarely leave inspired to workout. Mostly just drained and needing a nap.

It sets me wondering what a restrictive, no-fun-for-anyone diet does to a person’s social life.  It must be such a struggle to socialize when you have set such rigid parameters. Going out, eating out, alcohol – all present themselves as a conundrum. If you cant enjoy the journey, is there any point to this whole process at all?

Being healthy isn’t a short-term project. Every fad diet you can think of (yes. Keto included) is a Band-aid on a bullet hole. What you really need is a lifestyle that promotes healing and wellness.

No one can go this journey alone. We have support groups for depression and alcoholism; why not for food addiction and habit change? If someone is stuck in an eating disorder, how should they respond when offered a dessert? When well-meaning aunties insist “thoda khao beta, kucch mota wota nahin hota”. When they can’t wake up after an evening out and get themselves to the gym to burn off the extra calories?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have an accountability partner who makes sure that you stay on the wagon, and feel supported doing it?

What if you had a group of like-minded people who all act as cheerleaders on your journey?

Look around you and your closest friends. Do they make you aspire for more? Do they support you on your transformation journey?

Do they lift you up or put you down?

Do they force feed you alcohol or desserts and sabotage your progress?

If the people you hang out with don’t inspire you, support you and stand with you in your struggle; maybe you need to detach for a while.

If your friends don’t jump up with you and say ‘I know this is hard for you – let’s do this TOGETHER – maybe its time to get new friends?