Are there people in your life who you need to justify your healthy eating habits to? When you go to the bathroom, do they lay a cookie on your desk and say “C’mon – live a little!!”? When you say you have quit sugar, do they say “You’re no fun anymore!”? Or do they just downright crack it when you say you are giving up bread?
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What I have learnt over the years is that people are very defensive when it comes to food. They don’t like to change and they don’t like those around them to change either. I know this because I used to be one of these people.
It may be hard to believe, but my husband is just as much of a nutrition nerd, if not more so, than me. While I have always been interested in healthy living, he deserves the credit for opening my mind to life without bread and pasta and instead focussing on more nutrient dense foods. He therefore also deserves the credit for making me a happier, more energetic, and generally more pleasant person. However I didn’t take too nicely to his suggestions at first. You see, this is what my daily menu used to look like:
- Breakfast: All Bran with banana, nuts, seeds and honey with rice milk OR porridge
- Lunch: Salad with some sort of protein OR a wrap/sandwich
- Dinner: Some sort of meat and vegies OR risotto OR pasta
Now, let it be known, he didn’t actually tell me that I should be eating differently. He was just gradually transitioning to a paleo-style diet himself, and I didn’t like it. Why, I don’t know. But I got angry…all the time….until he got angry back. That I was abusing him for trying to obtain optimal health pissed him off. And rightly so. Who was I to stop him from being healthy? How presumptuous of me to think that my way was the right way. So did I change my diet straight away? No, no I didn’t. I’m a little stubborn in that I need to find things out for myself. So that’s what I did – I started reading information on nutrition other than the mainstream regurgitation I was being fed at uni. And what I found was some solid scientific evidence to back up his nutritional decisions. I had to admit he was right all along (I still haven’t done that. I told you – stubborn!).
The real power was not in knowing this information, but what I did with it – I started to make changes to my diet. Just small changes at first – it probably took me around a year to completely take grains out of my diet, but I have never looked back since. Friends ask me if I miss bread and pasta – I miss them like I miss the constant itching from my chronic eczema. I miss them like I miss the extreme mood and energy swings I would experience throughout the day. I miss them like I miss the daily diarrhoea. So no….I don’t miss bread and pasta.
But I diverge – this was a post about support!!! My point was change is hard at the best of times. We are creatures of habit and routine. In order to make change we first need to have a really good reason to do so (e.g. to have more energy, to be a good role model for your kids, to not die from a heart attack before the age of 50). I could waffle on all day about what to eat for optimal health, but unless you embrace the concepts yourself and also understand why you are changing, you are setting yourself up for failure. Finally, and most importantly, we need support. We need it from everyone around us – friends, colleagues, partners, family.
To start with, you may find yourself defending your eating habits. The best advice I can offer to tackle this resistance is to calmly explain why you are making the choices you are making. Someone who has your best interests at heart will be happy for you and offer their support. The next step is to pass on your knowledge – get them onto the books, articles, blogs and websites that helped you make changes. And finally….cook for them! Show them that healthy, nutrient-dense meals can be just as tasty as any other meal!
Hopefully, one by one, we can spread the knowledge, grow the support network and be on our way to healthier, more fulfilling lives.
Who's got your back?