Ever thought you were being too nice? Perhaps it’s time to consider how being polite may be jeopardising your health.
Being well-mannered is a great quality to possess and it does make for a brilliant first impression. But research shows that being Mr or Mrs Nice all the time could be deeply detrimental to your health – and it goes further than simply learning to say “no”.
For most of us shaking hands with strangers is a common gesture when meeting or greeting people for the first time. But, do you know when last those hands were washed?
Since it may not be possible to wash your hands after every hand shake, you may want to consider that a recent study found that 10% of people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet; 33% don’t use any soap and only 5% wash their hands well enough to get rid of germs that can cause infections.
Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you, and give your hands a wipe after a shake.
Politely piling on the kilos
To the Japanese, cleaning your plate is a courtesy. But doing this too often can make you pile on the kilos when you really want to get rid of them.
Finishing your food is seen a compliment to the chef and shows that you appreciate the effort made to prepare the meal. This could be bad for weight control as portion sizes contribute to total kilojoule intake.
“Overeating isn’t a good idea. If your energy intake in kilojoules exceeds your energy output, you’ll gain weight over time,” says clinical dietician Dr Ingrid van Heerden.
Treating yourself once in a while will not be damaging, but overeating to be polite could become a habit and it may lead to more frequent binge eating if your willpower isn’t strong, she warns.
“The easiest way to stick to your kilojoule limit without offending the host is to let him/her know ahead of time that you’re on an eating plan. Alternatively, make sure that you only have a tiny portion and eat very slowly so that it appears that you’re eating a lot.”
Pleasing the crowd
Sometimes the lines between being polite and being pressured become blurred.
You set a curfew and tell yourself you’d limit alcoholic beverages to a drink or two, yet there you are finishing the bottle of wine well after 11pm, because those hard-core drinking buddies keep bullying you to stay for one more drink.
“People pleasers don’t want to rock the boat or upset the sense of social harmony,” says Julie Exline, a psychologist from Case Western Reserve, in response to a study done on people pleasing.
Behaviour that’s motivated by the fear of losing someone’s love or approval is unhealthy and self-destructive as it may leave you feeling less pleased with yourself.