We’ve talked a lot on how to get started on the keto diet, a high-fat, low carb diet, but what about the other factors that may impact a dieter’s success? After all, it’s hard to stick to a diet without a support system. Doubts can creep in, mental health can affect the belief a person has in themselves, and unhealthy relationships can also lead to more stress.
That’s why in order to succeed on the keto diet (the Body Reboot book provides more tips on how to succeed too!), it’s important to have healthy relationships. No, it’s not impossible to still lose weight and get healthy without positive relationships, however, without supportive friends and family that will back you up, it will make things more challenging.
So how much do our relationships affect our health and our willingness to make changes? Actually quite a bit. Grant Hilary Brenner MD, FAPA on Psychology Today summarizes the MIDUS study that revealed that our relationships have everything to do with the choices we make in life, such as making decisions that affect our health. More specifically, that not only includes staying at a healthy weight, but they also can change the amount of physical activity we participate in and how we feel mentally.
To address this gap in our understanding, Roberson and colleagues analyzed data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study to test a model of how several factors interact to link relationship quality with health outcomes. They looked at data from 1995, 2002, and 2011, which includes multiple measures from several thousand participants at each stage of information collection. They looked at people who either said they were married or were in close, long-term relationships tantamount to marriage.
Grant Hilary Brenner MD, FAPA, further reveals how relationships have an impact on a variety of factors, especially health.
“We know that independently the factors they looked at — smoking, alcohol consumption, eating habits, sleep quality, physical activity — influence future health. But what specific behaviors are affected by relationship function? In this study, researchers found that only eating and physical exercise were significant mediators between relationship dysfunction at Time 1 and physical health at Time 3, though sleep quality came close to significance. Although smoking and alcohol consumption may be affected by couples’ factors, in this study they did not account for the health issues stemming from poor relationship quality. The significant interactions between relationship dysfunction and eating and physical activity held even after researchers factored out the effects of depression and anxiety, showing that these factors are independently important.”
Have healthy relationships in your life and you’ll be more willing to stick to healthy behaviors, which is what Northwestern Medicine argues:
“Healthy relationships set the perfect tone for an overall healthy lifestyle. If your spouse, friends or other loved ones encourage eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking, etc., you’re likely to follow in their footsteps. It’s a lot easier to take on healthy behaviors when you surround yourself with people who are doing the same.”
In a 2011 study called J Health Soc Behavior reveals just how much an impact social relationships have on our health.
“Social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. Sociologists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcomes, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variation (e.g., by gender and race) at the population level. Studies show that social relationships have short- and long-term effects on health, for better and for worse, and that these effects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health. This article describes key research themes in the study of social relationships and health, and it highlights policy implications suggested by this research.”
In the abstract, they also reveal how much relationships affect a person’s well-being. Furthermore, they also explain how these relationships may dictate a person’s decision to make healthy choices in their life, such as going on a new diet such as the keto diet.
“Captors use social isolation to torture prisoners of war—to drastic effect. Social isolation of otherwise healthy, well-functioning individuals eventually results in psychological and physical disintegration, and even death. Over the past few decades, social scientists have gone beyond evidence of extreme social deprivation to demonstrate a clear link between social relationships and health in the general population. Adults who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer than their more isolated peers. This article describes major findings in the study of social relationships and health, and how that knowledge might be translated into policy that promotes population health. Key research findings include: (1) social relationships have significant effects on health; (2) social relationships affect health through behavioral, psychosocial, and physiological pathways; (3) relationships have costs and benefits for health; (4) relationships shape health outcomes throughout the life course and have a cumulative impact on health over time; and (5) the costs and benefits of social relationships are not distributed equally in the population.”
Supporting what the above study revealed, NBC says that experiencing anxiety once in a while in a relationship is normal, but it’s how you cope with that anxiety is what counts. You may not always be happy or stress-free, but there are ways to stay healthy and confident through it all.
“When stressful thoughts begin to take hold, follow these expert suggestions for staying in control and helping ease anxiety:
Exercise. To help curb anxiety at the moment, Forshee recommends hitting the gym. Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercise increases serotonin production and release. Isolating yourself and becoming physically stagnant are the two worst things you can do, so get moving.”
Relationship anxiety is never fun, but there are ways to push through it because without healthy relationships it will be more challenging to follow through with a diet and make other healthy decisions.
“Overcoming relationship anxiety ultimately boils down to having control over your emotions and your mental process. There’s a direct correlation between your health — and the success of your relationships — and the depth of understanding you have about yourself, your behaviors and your feelings. Take steps to identify sources of anxiety and re-route the spiral it incites today, and you may just be able to map out a new pattern for your brain to follow next time around.”
It’s all about having a great support team when you’re seeking to make positive changes in your life, because without family and friends to keep you accountable on the keto diet; the truth is it may be more difficult to succeed. Jane’s Due Process explains just how significant support is:
“Support and respect go hand in hand: if you and your partner respect each other, you will both support each other’s wishes and boundaries and encourage each other to keep those boundaries.
Support also means celebrating what makes your partner so great: their hobbies, their quirks, the food they like and shows they watch. Your partner should celebrate the things that make you, you, and support your investment in those things.”
Now you know just how much of an impact a relationship can have not only on the healthy decisions you make but a majority of the choices you make. That’s why we all should work on creating boundaries and finding a partner who can help you make it through the tough times. Love is Respect provides excellent examples of what a healthy relationship should entail:
“Speak Up. In a healthy relationship, if something is bothering you, it’s best to talk about it instead of holding it in.
Respect Each Other. Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value, and so do yours. Let your significant other know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
Be Supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to each other. Also, let your partner know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
Respect Each Other’s Privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. Healthy relationships require space.”
After discovering why having healthy relationships can influence the decisions we make in life, what can you do to improve your current relationships? Is it time to make friends with people who will support you and motivate you to make better choices in life? It may take some effort, but finding and keeping healthy relationships is imperative, especially when you want to follow through with a diet. The keto diet is an excellent way to regain your health, and we can help you get there!
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