You might have a lot of explaining to do.
There’s something about seeing someone disregard the conventional food pyramid that makes some people really nervous, like at that point who knows what’s coming next? Dessert prohibition? Taxes on spaghetti? The apocalypse?
Happy people eating steak?
I get it because for a long time I had no clue. I was picturing my current diet which was a whole lots of bagels, cereal, pasta, and ice cream, without those staples and thought I would either wither away from lack of nourishment, die of a broken heart or both. I just wasn’t aware of all the food I COULD have been eating.
And I wasn’t aware of how disruptive those staples were to my digestion, mood, energy, sleep, immune process and athletic performance.
To be precise, I was dumb and I asked dumb questions. Like “what do you eat for breakfast without cereal?” or “do you have to shop only at Whole Foods?” and “how do you know it’s working?” My sincere apologies if you were a victim of any of these from me.
I’ve noticed there are 4 general categories people tend to fall into when talking about OPPD (Other People’s Paleo Diets). When you’re faced with explaining the Paleo diet to family and friends, here’s what to expect and how to react.
The Confused and the Curious. I was one of these. These people will be really interested but yet ask you all the dumb questions. Since they genuinely want to understand this way of eating and are usually nonjudgemental, you can talk to them honestly and openly, until you see their eyes start to glaze. Remember they are confused so it’s time to shut up and let it digest.
The Feisty and the Furious. These people appear go to up in arms when they hear you will be shunning oatmeal, brown rice, and skim milk. They know an awful lot about nutrition and you will have to listen to their expertise. They will also inform all of the doctors they’ve ever met about your choices and attempt to get them to lecture you as well. You will receive articles in the mail. They are right so don’t fight. Just take a mental vow of silence and go cook up a grass-fed ribeye for yourself.
The Oblivious and Unconcerned. You’ve been eating paleo for a good 6 months and these people either haven’t noticed or just don’t care at all one way or the other. If they are your friends, great, no social pressures to deal with!
If they are members of your immediate family however, you might start to take this as a sign that they don’t care about you. It’s not. They just have other priorities and are happy as long as you are happy. Resist the urge to badger them about their own diets. Yes, I need to take my own advice on this one. Soon enough they might notice you are glowing and turn into a confused and curious.
The Ones Who “Just Can’t”. Okay that’s not a creative title for a group but these people are easy to spot, because when you pass over the bread basket at dinner they immediately say “I just can’t give up bread” or “I just can’t imagine how I would eat” or live, or cook all that food, or keep weight on, or watch tv without snacks, or skip dessert, etc.
You don’t even have to say anything and they will start talking about their own diet dilemmas, weight problems, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, migraines and then just kind of shrug and say “but, I just can’t……”.
You didn’t ask to be their therapist and you don’t have to be, but it is really tempting to show them how easy and fulfilling diet and lifestyle changes can be. Yes it takes some effort, but yes they can. Don’t push though, because if you start to lecture these people too much they can turn into the feisty and furious.
So, what reactions did you experience from friends and family when you began to change your diet?
Do you have any categories to add or other advice on dealing with social situations and food?
What was the worst/funniest/weirdest reaction you experienced from someone related to your or your family’s diet?