07/03/2016 04:55 GMT | Updated 07/03/2017 05:12 GMT

Why You Should Let Your Friends Give Up, Even If You Don't Want to


I'm what waiters, dinner party hosts and anyone who can't mind their own business might call a dietetic pain in the ass. In the last few years, I've become a prolific giver-upper of things, which can sort of make me difficult to cater for. It does not however, make me difficult to be around.

Despite all this, people still find a way to take exception to my lifestyle. I've a colleague who will sigh at me every time she offers me chocolate and I say "no thank you". I've got friends who invite me out and immediately follow up with "are you still not drinking? Boring." What (I assume) these people don't realise is, their problem is with themselves and not with me.


Over the past couple of years, I've shed about 100lbs in body weight. Now say what you want about #honouringyourcurves, but it was the right and healthiest decision for me. As far as I'm concerned, eating better and getting more exercise is a no-brainer, a fool-proof way to do right by yourself. But people can't help but chime in. The same people who would happily watch me eat three Krispy Kremes a day and not pass comment, now tell me to "be careful" about eating "too healthily" and warn me against "losing too much weight". I'm not underweight, nor will I ever be (and if I was, that wouldn't be anyone's business, either). These people know nothing about my health, but become armchair doctors who are somehow qualified to give advice on what to do and what not to do.

Another huge issue for other people is that I've given up drinking, which I will concede it was a bold choice for a champion binge drinker such as myself. I was just trying it out for size at first, but then I realised I didn't miss it. I don't miss the hangovers, the Sunday morning shame spirals, the intense desire to binge on KFC whilst lying in bed mumbling "whyeeeeeeeeee" for hours on end. Everyone can relate to that, I'm sure. But some people still look at me like I just murdered their dog when I tell them I can no longer be swayed by a flaming zombie.

I've got no problem with spending time with my friends whilst they eat, drink and be merry, though. But whilst I'm around, people feel instantly guilty. They'll feel the need to justify ordering chips because they've "been good all week!" If I order a salad, people will say "You're being so good, you're making me feel bad." In their heads, I'm like some kind of naggy angel on their shoulder, and my mere presence makes them feel guilty about their lifestyle.

People will also assume what I've actually given up, is fun. For many people I guess, consumption and enjoyment are inextricably linked, and the idea of sitting in a pub drinking fizzy water is incomprehensible. But if I seem less jovial it's only because taking a verbal battering every time I order a soft drink can really put a downer on a night out.

The thing is, I don't think everyone needs to give up sugar. I don't think people should stop drinking if they don't want to, and I've never expressed any negative views on my friends' dietary habits. I think chips are the best thing in the world and I'm happy for you to bathe in them if it pleases you. I think cocktails were a better invention than sliced bread, or the wheel. When I die, I'd like to be buried in a giant Easter egg. Just because I don't do things, doesn't mean I'm passing judgement on you for doing them. I just realised at some point or another that I enjoy feeling healthy more than I enjoy eating junk. And that's a big deal for me. Cause I really bloody love eating junk.

Sadly, as soon as you start trying to do something good for yourself, people will tell you you're wrong. They'll say that they read that calorie control doesn't actually work, drinking is actually better for you than being sober, or that eating too many vegetables gives you cancer. I think it's probably just a way of justifying why they won't commit to what they perceive as a healthier or more virtuous lifestyle.

If you're the person in your group who is giving up drinking, or smoking, or drugs, or chocolate, or kale, or dancing on tabletops, don't let your friends disparage you. You are a person with free will and you are welcome to make your own decisions. As long as those decisions aren't harmful to other people and you're not ramming your lifestyle down everyone's throats as the new enlightened way to live, it's nobody's business but your own. Don't lose heart, people aren't trying to sabotage you, they just don't know how to deal with what you're doing.

And if you're that friend whose default position is to force a chocolate brownie or a pint of ale on someone who has politely declined, take a step back and ask yourself "why do I care? Will it hamper my enjoyment if John doesn't have an identical calorific intake to me? Will I cease to exist if Sarah says no thank you to a gin now and again?"

The answer, my friend, is invariably no.