I often hear clients and program members say that there are certain people in their life — family members, friends, or or co-workers, who have concerns with their “changed” eating style.
They wonder: where will you get protein? Isn’t this extreme? This seems unhealthy? Don’t you need dairy for calcium?
As you all know, there is so much seemingly conflicting information that is presented to people in the media, from their doctor, the internet, and every person who has a “nutrition” related blog (and I use the word nutrition with caution).
There is an interesting irony when no one questions you if you bring a red velvet cake to work…filled with red dye number 569, white refined sugar and hydrogenated oils. But, bring a green juice, and the alarm bells go off.
Alarm bells go off for a number of reasons.
Here are some, and some suggestions for how you can deal with it:
1. Sometimes the person concerned for you really does love you and care about you, and they are completely unfamiliar with plant based low fat high raw eating. This might be a spouse, a parent, a best friend. They are genuinely concerned. For this person, I always recommend encouraging them to learn first. Recommend some books and movies for them to read and watch, and let them know that you would love to talk to them after they’ve done that.
Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live”
John Robbins’ “No Happy Cows”
T. Colin Campbell “Whole, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”
Will Tuttle’s “World Peace Diet”
Dean Ornish’s “Reversing Heart Disease”
Joel Fuhrman’s “Fasting and Eating For Health”
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Forks Over Knives
It is helpful to let your concerned friends and family know that once they have read and watched the recommended movies and books it would be a lot of fun to talk about it. It’s a good idea to let them know that you prefer to reserve the discussion until that time.
The reason for taking this approach is because it will help keep the discussion to facts, versus uninformed opinions. Often, the people who are “concerned” for you, are relatively unaware of the 50 years plus of research on nutrition science, the realities of animal consumption on our environment and on those less fortunate than us, and the realities of using animals as commodities in general. Once they have a basic understanding of the facts, then a productive conversation can take place. This will also help weed out those who are not really concerned, but who merely feel threatened that their own paradigm is being called into question. Which leads me to point #2.
2. Sometimes, the person giving you a hard time feels threatened. It could be a co-worker or a friend who deep down wishes to lose some weight, get off medication, and become healthier. When these people see you with your huge green juices and avoiding the office junk food it is very threatening. When they hear you getting the compliments about how beautiful your skin looks, how happy you seem, how much weight you have dropped, and how much younger you have been looking, it is a painful reminder of their own lack of commitment to themselves. Those are the people that would rather you not follow your healthy plan, and would secretly be overjoyed to see you down the leftover greasy pizza and a coke, so they can feel “less bad” about their own inability to get healthy.
A good response for those people is something along the lines of how you are following the only nutrition-based plan accepted by major medical insurance carriers as a PROVEN diet to reverse and prevent heart disease, diabetes, and significantly reduce risk of cancer — the three most common killers.
If you feel you want to go an extra step and make a recommendation for them, you can suggest that they might “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs” or similar fact-oriented book.
But sometimes the concerned person is closer to home. It may even be a spouse. In fact, MANY of my program participants have written to me, letting me know of some very serious issues that have arisen with their spouse since they have changed their eating habits for the better. Which leads me to point #3.
3. Spouses may be fearful that you will be “different”. And, different scares many people. Even when different is better, it is still scary. Fear of change ranks extremely high on the human scale of life stressors. If it is a spouse for whom you usually cook, they may worry that you won’t be their personal chef any more. You don’t know how many women have told me “but I HAVE to cook for my husband”. My answer is always, “no, you actually don’t HAVE to do anything of the sort. If you would enjoy continuing to cook for your spouse, that is wonderful. But it is neither a duty or an obligation, he is a man, not a child, and you are not his mommy!”.
When my husband and I met and fell in love, he was far from plant based! Breakfast was sometimes a candy bar and a coke, and dinner for him was often frozen pizza topped off with a few decaying animal parts! Yes, I’m serious. I was very clear from the beginning that I do LOVE to cook, and would be happy to prepare meals for us at home, but healthy plant based meals. If his desire was to eat those types of foods, he would have to prepare them himself. He did. For a little while, until he realized that all of the food I was preparing was delicious. He started feeling amazing, having more energy, and now can’t go a day without a pile full of greens in the morning!
Keep in mind those “I HAVE to’s” are often well disguised excuses we might be making for our own selves, to avoid change.
Remember that when you evolve and change, that has the potential to trigger discomfort and fear in a spouse who is not yet ready to make changes, or they might fear that you will try to impose your new eating style on them. It can be reassuring to these spouses to let them know that you are making changes in your own life that you believe are best for you. And, that you are not expecting, or even asking them to make any changes, you simply would like their support. Support could come in many ways, including not making judgmental comments about your new foods, not badgering you about eating out, or having nightly alcohol drinks together.
As uncomfortable as it can definitely be for many people, I have heard from so many clients over the years that a change in health habits either completely strengthened a partnership/marriage, or made it clear that it was time to part ways. As dramatic as that may seem to some, it really isn’t about the food. The food is just a catalyst which brings to light issues that are already there. When you are eating out a lot, drinking alcohol, bonding over junk food etc, it can be easy to avoid important issues in a relationship. And just like food/tv/alcohol can numb you from your own inner exploration, it can build a wall around underlying issues in a relationship.
Remember, that while food is designed by nature to serve only one purpose, to nourish us, in many places around the world we have created entire rituals, lifestyles and friendships over food choices.
That’s one reason why juice fasting is such a powerful life changer on ALL levels. Juice fasting creates a rawness, a realness and an open ended question as to who and what you will evolve to become as a result of this work (both inner and outer). Ultimately, if you follow a path of high raw, low fat, plant based eating — and include periodic juice fasting — you will be a trailblazer in many ways!