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Diet Talk from the Doc

by Dr.Diet, Diet.com's Medical Director

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It's as contagious as the common cold... but you feel great when you "catch" it!

Catch a Healthy Lifestyle, Contagious Healthy LifestyleNo, it's not some strange super flu. We're talking about a healthy lifestyle. And we've got a Harvard Medical School study to back us up.

According to medical sociologists at Harvard, the people you hang out with can affect your smoking habits and your weight... in a good way.

"A team of researchers who showed that obesity can spread person-to-person has found a similar pattern with smoking cessation: A smoker is more likely to kick the habit if a spouse, friend, co-worker or sibling did," the Chicago Tribune reported.

What I find interesting about this study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the powerful influence others have on our habits. Oh, and don't forget that YOU have the power to influence others.

Here's how I see this working.

You and the people in your life have what we call a "shared environment" and each environment " whether it's your home, office or the social outlets you frequent " have their own types of cues. Some are healthier than others.

For example, if it's commonplace at your office to see donuts brought in most mornings, then you and your fellow workers may become donut eaters.

Or if you work in an environment like me " a place where all the nutrition-conscious health professionals bring their own bag lunches to work " then you may be a bag luncher.

We are also affected by "social norms" around us. If your friends typically like to take a break outside to smoke a cigarette, then you may be more likely to do so.

And conversely, if your friends are trying to stop smoking, this may give you a nudge to do the same.

We depend on our friends and other supportive people in our lives to help us when we need it. So, if you want to lose weight and need some support, then you need to surround yourself with like-minded folks.

That's the beauty of the Diet.com support community that you all are helping us build here. We really are "infecting" one another as we travel down this healthy lifestyle journey together.

A healthy lifestyle... catch it!

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