When I decided to change my eating habits and to limit my diet to whole foods, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, I knew it would impact others besides myself. I also know from past experience that it’s easy to become an evangelist about a new diet, and evangelists can be downright annoying. I didn’t want this to happen.
Your dietary impact upon others
- When you eat a meal that is not the SAD (standard American diet) type, you call attention to the habits of others. Without intending any negative consequences, there can be some sharp things said about your diet choices as others become more self-conscious of their own eating decisions.
- Dining out can be tricky as your friends and family will either want to accommodate you in choosing a place to eat, or they will simply expect you to conform to them.
- If you are the primary food prep person in your home, your cooking methods, as well as food choices, will impact those of your family. The problem is the potential for massive household rebellion, and this can lead to giving up the healthy diet in order to conform to the others in the household.
Some basic rules for controlling the hidden messages in your diet
- Let it be as private as possible. In other words, after you’ve informed those closest to you that you intend to eat a different diet, and you have satisfied their curiosity about your reasons for doing so, just move on and do it. It doesn’t have to be explained, and it doesn’t have to be understood by anyone but YOU! Don’t preach it, just do it!
- Have a plan in mind for how you can handle dining out at various restaurants where your friends and family like to spend time. Almost any place will at least serve a salad, so it’s not a lost cause. If you’re like me, these have always been the most sociable times with my wife. We like to catch up on the day, listen to one another’s stories, and we genuinely enjoy our time together while others wait on us at the table. Being a native resident of Texas, Tex-Mex food has been our favorite for many years. I have a couple of things I know I can get in any Tex-Mex place. The ingredients may not be quite as healthy as my do-it-yourself version, but as long as it’s within the general bounds of my diet plan, I can survive Tex-Mex places by eating a guacamole salad, salsa, and a couple of corn tortillas, especially if the tortillas are steamed, instead of cooked in oil. Having something in mind ahead of time helps with the stress, for both you and your significant other(s).
- When people ask you how you’re losing so much weight, and they will, tell them in the simplest terms possible, without using “should’s” and “must’s” and “always.” Try not to elaborate unless they continue to ask for more and more details. Limit your responses to their questions, and don’t go off on the research, the poor quality of other diet programs, etc. Just chill…answer the questions, thank them for complimenting your weight loss, and just move on.
- If you are the primary cook in your home, as I am, you must be willing to make one huge sacrifice to keep the peace, that is, be willing to continue serving up their favorites while preparing, and eating, the food that is preferable for your own diet. It may mean twice the cooking, twice the dishes afterwards, and twice the time, but your willingness to do this, without complaint, will put an end to any conflict with the family regarding your new eating regimen.
Some interesting results
By using the strategies above, I have found that my friends and family have adapted a lot! My wife now wants a salad in her lunch box every day…no problem, it makes me smile!
I found out by eavesdropping that a lot of people at work are making some healthier choices after some of them have asked me a barrage of questions.
The general consciousness of good health and nutrition in our household and in my place of business has been raised. There is no doubt that my 60+ pound weight loss (to date) has made an impact, and I swear, I’ve only talked about it when asked a question.
Living a healthy life does indeed impact the world around you positively, though it may not appear this way at first. Just follow the rules above, and hopefully, it will make a difference for you.